Passover this year was overshadowed by such discouraging news all around us. Ironically, its message of freedom went unheard in the halls of state houses that are supposed to be purpose-built for democracy. 

After a gut-wrenching school shooting that left six dead, it seemed pretty natural to me that there would be protests against gun violence. It also seemed natural — even expected — that Democratic lawmakers would join the protests because they have the same goal. But when the Republican-led legislature in Tennessee decided to expel them for physically joining the protest, it really was a glimpse into “the bad old days.” 

An equally dystopian and authoritarian time travel adventure can be found by simply going to Florida. The governor seems to have never met a vengeful act he doesn’t like, which at first manifested as book bans — but has now devolved into an entire government department dedicated to getting revenge on Disney.

Kansas rounds out this rogue’s gallery with one of the most intrusive and unreasonable laws I have ever heard of: Inspecting the genitals of students who wish to play school sports. Even the federal bench seems eager to curtail freedoms at the drop of a hat, with a lone district judge in Texas banning medical (pill-based) abortions for the whole country. 

Finally, a more concerning disregard for constitutional principles can be found in Idaho, where lawmakers have made it illegal to even travel through the state in order to get an abortion. What a breath-taking violation of interstate travel. 

It’s all very hard to take, but when these people wrap themselves up in the word Freedom, it really diminishes what the word actually means. Freedom means both a) doing what you want, and b) letting people go. People can only thrive when they are happy. There will always be a risk that someone’s freedom may lead them away from you, but we all know that about life already. 

Freedom is sometimes uncomfortable, but so is progress.