In my last post I mentioned that statements like “they have nothing to fear if they aren’t doing anything wrong,” and all its variations, seem to be heard more and more as individual rights take a back seat to security. I took a peek at the CNN’s readers comment page regarding the taser incident at the University of Florida and it seems that about a third of the comments contained this sentiment.
I am not naive enough to think that Mr. Meyer was as sinless as we would be led to believe (the media loves its underdog), but it bothers me that people are so willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that the police had an inappropriate response. We are always willing to toss the other guys individual rights aside in some misguided effort to convince ourselves that none of this stuff has an impact on us personally, when in reality the actions against Mr. Meyer only makes it that much easier to abuse the rights of all.
In 1989, when the students at Tiananmen Square in China were protesting the policies of the Communist Party, the local authorities wouldn’t move against them because the general population, in a large part, agreed. The government called in the army from the provinces because they were willing to say “if they weren’t doing anything wrong, the government wouldn’t want to run over them with tanks.”
Not the same you say? Well true, Mr. Meyer is not in prison, but these things happen by degrees. We won’t wake up someday and be in a totalitarian state, it will be a long slide with every step rationalized and approved of.
You can’t deny that there are people out there that want power and control, and are working to get it. Our current emphasis on security, at any cost, is giving them a clear path to what they want. Only our vigilance, and our willingness to put up with an occasional jerk (maybe like Mr. Meyer), can make sure we keep the balance between security and freedom.
Benjamin Franklin said, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”