There are several signs around town that read: “Freedom isn’t free.” Often that is followed by: “Thank a Veteran.”
I agree wholeheartedly with that entire statement, but when I use the phrase I might be using it in a slightly different context. Service men and women are part of the equation to keep America free, but, as important is an informed electorate and how we understand our constitutional charter.
There is no freedom in America without our system of laws and justice, and without our charter to form representative government and to clarify our unalienable rights. Freedom is realized only by our collective willingness to live by that charter.
Freedom isn’t free and it isn’t necessarily safe. We can choose freedom or we can choose security, but we cannot necessarily have both. The laws which protect our freedoms can also leave us vulnerable.
The 4th Amendment to our Constitution provides us with freedom from illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement officers. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
The 14th Amendment contains the “Due Process Clause” prohibiting state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness. The amendment’s “Equal Protection Clause” requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction.
Even the seemingly irrelevant 3rd Amendment, preventing the government from quartering soldiers in civilian’s homes, is part of our Framer’s intent to secure individual rights and freedoms from government overreach, even in the pursuit of security.
With freedom come risks and our efforts to reduce those risks, can limit our freedom. Which brings up several topics: Wiretapping, Immigration, and Waterboarding.
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the “War on Terror,” was authorized under the Bush administration to monitor, without warrants, phone calls, internet activity, text messages, and any communication involving any party that was deemed suspicious by the NSA.
This program, referred to as the “terrorist surveillance program” was condoned by the administration, as well as many in the private sector, as a necessary program to combat terrorism in the wake of 9/11.
Enough public pressure did cause the Bush administration to cease the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007, but forms of it, under new guidelines, continue today. In April of 2009 officials from the Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications.
At what point do we draw the line? Security can be expanded to mean anything and so what does our right to privacy mean?
American citizens should not have to worry about their phones being tapped or their emails being read by government agencies, even in the name of security- THAT is the price of freedom.
The Arizona Immigration Law requires all aliens (legal) over the age of 14 who remain in the United States for longer than 30 days to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. Additionally, state law enforcement requires proof of immigration status when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant.
But, we are not a fascist country and no American citizen should be required to carry Citizenship Papers to pass within our own borders- even in the name of finding illegal immigrants- THAT is the price of freedom.
America’s revolution was ignited by respect for life, liberty, human rights and impartial justice. That realization cannot allow for torture, even in the name of intelligence gathering. “Waterboarding” is the sensation of drowning and causes extreme pain, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage, and even death.
When we condone such a thing by justifying its effectiveness to gather information from extra-judicial prisoners, we lower ourselves to the most barbaric order of civilization; we betray the fundamental human rights that we stand for and compromise the freedom that we claim to uphold.
If America is to be, as President Reagan once imagined, “The Shining City on the Hill,” then we cannot allow for the invasion of our privacy, the profiling of our citizens, and the sanctioning of torture. Not if we wish to uphold the principles of unalienable rights that we treasure– THAT is the price of freedom!