During the past week I've been reading various posts and comments regarding possible expansion of the Patriot Act. Most of the commentaries seem to have the common theme of "I'm not a bad guy, so I'm not worried about it. It's only the bad guys who should be worried, so it's a good thing." This is nonsense.
It's not about whether you think you're a bad person, it's about whether someone else with unlimited powers thinks you're a bad person. Watch how fast you don't like the Patriot Act when you're thrown in jail without cause or reason and not allowed to have representation for months or years. What happens if the friend you play tennis with every weekend turns out to be the next Timothy McVeigh, only with a team of militants (there are tens of thousands of them here in the U.S., we just haven't paid attention to them since 9/11)? What happens when you're locked up under suspicion because you were good friends with this suspect? Sure, this is unlikely, but the point is that the government can use the Patriot Act against anybody at any time. It's not just reserved for Muslims.
We've seen countless examples of abuse by our government. Just look at the recent arrests of the suspected terrorists in Lodi, Calif. The initial announcement stated that the suspects were targeting hospitals and food stores. But mysteriously, when the indictment was filed, this information was deleted. Why? Because they wanted to put it into the public mind that these people are evil-doers, convicted without a trial. Is there a better way to reach the public gut (maybe elementary schools, but they're probably saving that one for another time). Maybe these people are evil-doers, but it would be nice if this country would stand on what it's supposedly fighting for: democracy, justice, rights, and innocence until proven guilty -- and not pick and choose who has access to these rights.
By the way, millions of innocent, hard-working, patriotic people were sent to gulags and/or murdered by Stalin and his gang based only on the fact that Stalin et al "thought" they were bad.