Liberty Is More Important Than Safety

Author- William Baumgarth

We turn on the news, we hear stories about bombings, stabbings, shootings, and murder by vehicle. Hearing so much negative news leads many to think “what is happening to the world?” It seems as if there are more and more maniacs everyday. More importantly, society thinks that these acts of terrorism need to be stopped. But the question is, how?

Many politicians will tell you that safety is their number one concern. They promise to put an end to all terrorism. As long as you pay a small price, these politicians promise that you will be safe from all terrorism. However, what is the small price?

The “small” price to be paid, is your privacy and liberty. Every single day the government comes up with unique ways to take away your fourth amendment rights. This is all done under the guise of safety. The politicians will promise that Act X will prevent a future terrorist attack, but Act X also gives the government the permission to search your house without a warrant. This is “justified” by politicians who say that they’re only going after terrorists, and if you aren’t a terrorist, then you have nothing to hide.

If you have nothing to hide, why should you be concerned? I’ll tell you why. The Freedom Act, which is an extension of the Patriot Act, allows the government to wiretap and listen to your every phone call. This is all done through an agency known as the NSA. The NSA database holds all kinds of information about people including phone calls and internet activity. The best part about all of this perhaps is that information from the NSA database gets leaked. That means that the NSA is being used for reasons other than catching terrorists. To make matters worse Bloomberg news says that NSA employees “deliberately ignored restrictions on their authority to spy on Americans multiple times in the past decade.”That means that people working within the NSA abuse their power more often than we think.

From 1995 to 2014 there have been roughly 3264 deaths resulting from terrorism in the US. In other words, it is VERY unlikely to be killed by an act of terrorism. What’s strange about this is that 3264 deaths somehow justify spying on every human being, even though more people are killed by heatwaves.

And it seems as if the spying has no ending point. The FBI and other government agencies admit to using surveillance drones “rarely.” This means that the government has a machine follow people they perceive to be a threat or dangerous. The federal government even gave local police departments 1.2 million to spend on drones in 2013. That’s a lot of money to eavesdrop on your own citizens.

If you’re still unconvinced, what if I told you that the government can take away your liberty by killing you? It was 2011 when Obama sent a drone strike to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born in New Mexico. His son, an American only 16, was killed by drone strike two weeks later. In January 2017, an airstrike was called to kill his 8 year old daughter. I’m not claiming Anwar was innocent, in fact, he was probably a terrorist. But the disturbing point of the story is that as an American citizen, you may not even get a chance to stand trial. If you’re perceived as a big enough threat, you can have your entire family killed by drone.

It’s time to cut the bullshit. Are we really going to give up all of our liberty in exchange for safety? Were we unsafe to begin with? As Benjamin Franklin says, “[T]hose who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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