There has been much talk about our freedoms in the United States and how many or how few of us are being usurped, threatened or damaged by some decision made by some agency, politician or court ruling. All facets of the political spectrum seem to have an opinion about this subject, which is so near and dear to the hearts of all red, white and blue citizens.
Take the Patriot Act: The Fourth Amendment specifically states that any intrusion by government shall not be permitted without just cause or a warrant. The emergency legislation that produced the large governmental boot known as the Patriot Act was ginned up well before Sept. 11, 2001, by a Justice Department headed by some guy who lost an election for state attorney general in Missouri to a dead man. The opportunity to foist the government’s invasion of our privacy resulted in the multibillion-dollar boondoggle bureaucracy known as the Department of Homeland Security. The Bush administration scared Congress into giving it carte blanche to staff the department to the tune of more than 40,000 new government employees, several buildings and great publicity, all of which have produced the illusion of security. No attacks by crazed terrorists must mean the department works. The Fourth Amendment was the price.
So, how do you feel about having your telephone monitored, your email read and your location checked every day? Are you a risk to our nation? Where are the warrants? Do we trust Homeland Security to be diligent and fair?
Instead of just directing better coordination among the intelligence communities that already exist, former Vice President Dick Cheney and the fear-mongers created a whole new government agency and stomped on the Fourth Amendment.
We have laws that give women the freedom and rights to choose their reproductive decisions. The First Amendment guarantees each of us the freedom of and from religion. It also guarantees us the right to peacefully assemble, to speak our minds and to have our grievances heard. The press has the freedom to print anything they like, but the people have the freedom to decide whether the publications are real or claptrap. Sadly, many media organizations are owned by businesses that struggle with the ethical dilemma of printing and influencing information that might be opposite of the ownership’s view. Most, but not all media, practice high ethical standards.
The conservative side keeps saying the other guys are trying to destroy our freedoms. The more conservative the voice, the more freedoms are said to be in jeopardy. Yet conservatives keep saying a Judeo-Christian agenda is the basis for our Constitution, that our fears justify our phones being tapped without a warrant and that a woman does not have the right to choose her own reproductive behavior. Conservatives want to legislate marriage and say the mostly peaceful gatherings of the “Occupy” movement are illegal and harmful. Right-wing media blasts other news organizations as liars and say they exhibit bias.
I don’t hear those freedoms being threatened by progressives. I hear: Let freedom ring!
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.