No Privacy Jihad, April 1, 2004
Regarding the editorial “The ‘Privacy’ Jihad” in the April 1, 2004 Wall Street Journal, the short response to Heather Mac Donald is from Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This phrase was used often in the Revolutionary period, even as early as November 1755 from the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the Governor because the Founders knew the value of liberty. The Founders knew the value of privacy, as encapsulated in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself. The Federal government was greatly limited in its powers for that reason – politicians use crisis to grab power.
Without privacy there can be no liberty. If the wisdom of the Founders does not suffice, consider the USSR a modern day illustration of that axiom. Without liberty, safety is irrelevant. A police state will be extremely safe, but only a fool would wish to live there.
To have safety doesn’t mean forfeiting your privacy and liberty. You can have safety and privacy. Big government and big brother may be the quick answer to attempt to secure our safety, but we will not like the end result, and will probably dislike the intermediate result as well.
My vote here, as with any question regarding the direction of the country, is to go with the well educated, thoughtful people who established it. If that isn’t enough, consider this: “The man who has nothing which he cares about more than his personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” Reagan was right in 1974, Ms. Mac Donald is wrong 30 years later.
There is a right path and a wrong path. The path toward statist, bigger government brought about by the intent to instill fear in the people is the wrong one.
Christian H. F. Riley
[Original article: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB108079540145771406,00.html?mod=opinion%5Fmain%5Fcommentaries – subscription required]