Monday, June 13, 2005

On The Mark -- Patriot Act: What Nonsense I'm Reading

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.


Devo said...

THANK YOU, On The Mark! I was a touch frustrated and confused by many of the comments I received when I posted about the same thing not too long ago. Sure I know I'm not a "bad guy", but when it's not up to ME to determine who is a bad guy, it's up to someone else. Usually, that someone else is a jury of one's peers, and every citizen of our country is legally entitled to equal protection of the law, at least according to the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Or perhaps the fifth amendment, which promises due process of law...

Maybe the problem is that so few people are familiar with the Constitution that any attempt at hobbling it isn't even seen as a threat. I know for a fact that individuals are feeling more and more impotent in the face of a growing government, and they're pretty apathetic about it. The option of standing up to the juggernaut doesn't even enter their minds, because they've pretty much accepted the yoke of insignificance. They see our leaders not as representatives of the public will, but as an impersonal commander to be obeyed. I have no idea how to disabuse anyone of this notion, because it's pretty much a death sentence on free thought. And that attitude is pretty pervasive in my generation. I guess all I can do is just keep making noise, and perhaps one day, someone will listen, right?

Anonymous said...

Unless you get thrown in jail first.

On The Mark said...

No...thank you, Devo. Your on-the-point post inspired me.

Chandira said...

Maybe those of us that said they have nothing to hide are all paranoid.. lol

Yes, it does scare me, but that feeling of helplessness is worse, and saying you have nothing to hide makes you feel better about it somewhat. I'm in the position of being a non-citizen, so I am not about to make too many strong statements about it publicly.