Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are Individual freedom coming under more complicated and sophisticated threats?

It sure seems that way doesn’t it? My inclination is to believe that civil liberties are coming more and more under attack. The Patriot Act and the TSA’s new full body scanners are examples of that. The Bush Administration was documented as having violated the civil liberties of American’s in general with the aid of the NSA. This is all justified under the well meaning guise of securing the nation and making our citizens feel safer. The Obama administration seems only to ignore or reinforce these issues, which goes to show that once you lose liberty it’s hard to get it back without a fight.

But, the government isn’t the only front on the battle to maintain civil liberties. The internet has created the greatest threat to personal privacy. Then there is the sentiment of the people in general. A lunatic brings a gun and kills innocent people and suddenly guns need to be restricted and banned (not saying whether the do or not here). Often people will trade civil liberty for security. Even more disturbing is that they are not always aware or even concerned of the trade off.

The problem is that the erosion of civil liberties and that’s really what it is, gradual erosion rather than an outright fight, is so subtle that many are not really even aware that it is happening at all. Most Americans aren’t affected by the Patriot Act so it seems like a non-issue to them. The TSA scanners will eventually become commonplace as to be acceptable. They will just be one of the many inconveniences of travel. Look how quickly we have adapted to longer lines and increased security measures when flying. In fact the clamor has died down. Most likely new technology will replace these with something less invasive, but who really knows.

The volatility of ever changing geo-politics and the evolution of new technologies occur more quickly than our ability to cope with them ethically – it seems – leaving us in the position that we are in right now. What we need to decide, those of us who love civil liberty, is what we are willing to trade off for liberty? I have said this before and I say it again, emphatically, there is a price to pay for a free and open society. The price tag sometimes is soaked in blood.

That doesn’t mean that violence is acceptable or encouraged. It’s just a fact. Some people will occasionally do horrible things. The question is whether we will use this as an excuse to allow liberty to be curtailed or if we will chose a more courageous stance. Benjamin Franklin said that those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither (paraphrase).
I can’t disagree with that. I would prefer overall liberty to a forced sense of security or fairness. Finally, any real threat to our civil liberties doesn’t start with the government. It starts with us and what we are willing to accept.

For a kiss I will answer all your questions.

No comments: