The Proud Duck
Friday, June 23, 2006
As we approach the Fourth of July, we're told that America is apathetically sacrificing liberty in the name of fighting terrorism.
Horsepucky. Utter steaming horsepucky.
To everyone who says the NSA's monitoring of telephone calls to international calls to numbers associated with terrorist suspects is the end of liberty as we know it, consider this:
When they passed laws banning smoking indoors (I don't smoke and am generally annoyed by people who do, but not everyone thinks as I do), you didn't care. When they mandated seat belt and car seat laws (and imposed ghastly fines on people whose two-year-olds decided to throw tantrums and climb out of their car seats just as the minivan pulled up next to a cop -- speaking not entirely hypothetically here), you didn't care. When they cranked up tax rates to the point where ordinary people can expect to see up to 40% of their incomes taken (here in California), depriving them of the freedom those funds would have given, you didn't care. When you banned fireworks because some idiot burned his fingers or worse, you didn't care. (Long live Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, and Stanton -- last champions of sulferous liberty here in OC!)
And if there's a chance that if I make a phone call to a telephone number associated with terrorists, someone might listen in -- I don't care.
All government is a trading of liberty for security -- "to secure these rights [of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men." Which is why Benjamin Franklin never uttered the silly phrase, often attributed to him, that "those who trade liberty for security deserve neither." I trade my liberty not to quaff a case of beer and go on a joy ride, for my security not to be killed by someone who thinks that's a good idea.
Right now, in response to the new and uniquely challenging threat of terrorism, liberty has been restricted far less than it has been in pursuit of other objectives, including the war on drugs. If a truly essential liberty comes under attack, I'll meet you at the barricades. Right now, I'm more annoyed by fireworks bans than I am by anything that's being trumpeted as the End Of American Democracy As We Know It. It just isn't so.