"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin
We all know or have heard that quote before. Stop and think about what it really means for a second. Understand that this statement is a one-size fits all approach to liberty and not some cliché to be battered about between partisans and paradigms. Both the political left and right have fought each others' agendas in the name of good Ole Ben's quote and more often than not, both have been right.
The political left has used this statement to defend against the "Patriot" Act's passage after 9/11. They were right. The right has used it in response to the left's attack on gun ownership. They are also right.
Liberty is not a left/right issue. Moreover, anytime we must make a decision regarding Liberty vs. Safety, let's always err on the side of Liberty.
Do you feel safer in the streets knowing that the government has access to private and public surveillance cameras the area to deter against muggings and other violent crime?
Isn't it more efficient now that the government can listen in on phone calls or view the documents of terrorists and take them into custody for further questioning before waiting for the slow process of a legal warrant?
Aren't we all a bit more safer in some of our busier cities knowing that strict gun laws ensure only trained, licensed, law-abiding citizens (and, yeah well, criminals) are the only one's carrying concealed weapons?
Those of us who live in states that allow law enforcement to pull us over because we don't have our seat belt on is a life saver, is it not?
Is it not so quicker to safely fly from place to place now that we can just walk up to a machine and be scanned for weapons? We really don't care that our wives and children are having nude photographs taken of them. Screw privacy; this is safe!
We are so much more safe, and the world is a better place.
Come close. Come really close. Come on in just a little closer. I want to ask you a question:
How safe will you feel when the government criminalizes you?
How wonderful will it be that the surveillance cameras used to protect us from muggers can also be used to identify us personally the next time we peacefully gather to protest the next legislative nightmare in Congress? Some may consider your protest seditious. I suppose the government could collect the video and enter your photo into a government data bank of dissenters for future use (along with your Google searches, bank account info, so on and so on).
Even worse, if two or more of us happen to speak about policy on terrorism (or anything else really involving government policy) in a way in which the Constitutionally untrained ear of some public officer or government sponsored "civilian militant" overhears, we may be considered terrorists by the Patriot Act. Now that we have been defined as terrorists, we are open to unlawful eavesdropping, search, seizure, and arrest.
There's no need to make a big scene arresting you at the event. After all, there are cameras there you know or some other civilian may capture us on tape hassling you regarding your terrorist demeanor. We don't want to look bad on national TV.
We have you on surveillance. We can print or digitally send your photo out in a nanosecond to the proper authorities. There's really no need to set up a "legal" check point and slow traffic down just to find you. We'll just pull you over because it appeared that you didn't have a seat belt on. I'm glad for your safety that we were wrong about the seat belt thing, but we still need to see your license. Wait here for a second so we can make sure everything checks out OK in our computer anyway. It's just procedure--no big deal.
Wouldn't you know, we have a photo matching your ID. Get out of your vehicle, we have to search your car. What is this? Why do you have a pistol? It's registered? You have a permit? Wow, we really need to tighten up on our gun laws around here if people like you can get a gun so easily. I'll have to suggest tighter gun laws to the mayor. By the way, come with us, you are a suspected terrorist.
On the same subject of safety and security, isn't the Arizona legislature doing a great thing to crack down on illegal immigration by allowing the police to stop these criminals and demand on the spot proof of legal citizenship? Let's round 'em up and send 'em packing. Law enforcement against illegals will be so much more efficient and effective now.
Won't it be great that an officer can walk up to us on the street and demand to see our "papers" on grounds that we just might be an illegal immigrant? You left your driver's license at home because you didn't drive? You can't prove you are an American? I'm afraid you are going to be detained while we sort through all of this. By the way, to hell with your Constitutional right to privacy. I don't care if you didn't break any laws. "Papers please!" as they say in Nazi Germany.
This is a dangerous world. It is also becoming a very high tech world making life easier for us while at the same time making certain aspects of law enforcement easier.
I appeal to remind you that despite the danger and the wonderful power of technology, we must be extremely careful. No matter what technological advances are available to us as, we still have an outline of rules we must follow. We still have a 200 year old document that protects our God-given rights to privacy and liberty.
I warn you that once we take the shortcut and allow our Constitution to be usurped by the conveniences of technology--once we transfer our God-given rights to government granted protection--we will remain on a very fast free fall that will guarantee the slavery of mankind to the state.
The same rights guaranteed from God and outlined in the Constitution are to protect us from becoming criminalized by government tyranny. We must remember this first when considering shortcuts to solve society’s problems and tracking criminals.
Let's not politicize or polarize Liberty. Let us always err on the side of liberty over safety and convenience.