Religious prohibitions are widespread — they often prescribe what to eat (or not), to wear (or not), what not to read, what observances are required of the faithful. All are enforced by fear of punishment during life or after death.
Today (supposedly for your own good) you can’t buy a car without government-mandated equipment, marry without a permit (marry same-sex at all in some states) or build your house the way you want (restrictive building codes and costly permits). And sadly the fear of terrorism cuts yet more cloth from our ragged metaphorical bolt of canvas. And we don’t know yet what effect increasing government surveillance of our lives will have.
I think my quest for a concise referent for “freedom” has failed. See what you can do.
Jonathan Wells, Jon3sticks@gmail.com, encourages himself and you constantly to “find (or at least search for) the referent” of all the words you hear and speak. He lives in Newbury.