What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
One of the books I’m reading (as you can see on the sidebar) is Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws, written by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. This book is an awesome asset in understanding how the government, in the name of “national security” and “upholding the law”, has repeatedly broken the law and ignored (if not trampled) the Constitution.
The book reviews example after example (probably 40+, I might guess) of such instances. Being a former judge and the current Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News, Napolitano has seen it all and reports on a number of court cases and political scenarios when persons in authority broke the law.
One section of the book discusses the government’s invasion upon our privacy. The subject of privacy invasion is one of profound importance, but unfortunately is treated with saturated apathy by the populace. Many people spew the ignorant, dangerous argument that “I don’t have anything to hide, so why should I care if the government invades my privacy?” In answer to such nonsense, Napolitano writes the following:
Most Americans don’t want the government to know of their personal behavior; not because we have anything to hide, but because we don’t live in the former East Germany or the old Soviet Union; because government in a free society is supposed to serve the people, not spy on them; because without probable cause, without some demonstrable evidence of some personal criminal behavior, the Constitution declares that our personal lives are none of the government’s business. (Andrew P. Napolitano, Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws, p. 148)
John’s comment on a previous post is equally telling:
I think people need to realize the slippery slope that privacy invasion threatens, and the possibilities that open up once privacy is surrendered. Most will counter that they don’t mind because they have nothing to hide, but this premise assumes that the interrogator is benevolent, and isn’t hiding something himself. :)
Indeed, as Napolitano says on page 127 of his book, “Unless you work for it, sell to it, or receive financial assistance from it, the government is not your friend.
Gone are the days when agents of the government were required to obtain a warrant to invade the privacy of a citizen. Gone are the days when such warrants were narrow in scope (as mandated by the Constitution), only allowing officials to invade one’s privacy for a specific purpose that was supported with reasonable evidence. Gone are the days when one could feel protected by the government, rather than suspicious of its actions and intentions.
We must protect privacy. It doesn’t matter if our phone conversations, mail, and emails are innocuous. We must uphold and defend the liberties secured to us by this country’s founding documents. Once those are abused (which they have been repeatedly), it becomes easier to further abuse, ignore, and ultimately destroy them.
We’re headed down that path. What will we do?