April 08, 2008

Paging the Fourth Amendment...Please pick up a white courtesy phone

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

This one couldn't be more meaningful for today's America, could it? Fear has driven us to give up all sorts of liberty in the name of safety.

Patriot Act, anyone? That little gem of a legacy from the Bush Administration has stripped away much that I doubt we'll ever get back. It violates many tenets of the Bill of Rights, what I've always thought of as the shining star of American democracy; that thing which defined us as "The Land of Liberty." The Patriot Act's use, and misuse, has had the unfortunate but unmistakable consequence of virtually gutting the Fourth Amendment, in particular.

Really, it's our fault for letting this happen, though. We don't hear it as much anymore, but we've lived with the idea of "the terrorists have won" if we don't do something we'd normally do if not for 9/11 and its after-effects for the last seven years. But for us to have let our own government strip away things that were so fundamental to our identity as a country, in the name of our safety, certainly smacks of that to me. Maybe they've only won a battle in a larger war we hope they'll lose, but at what cost?