BY VERN TURNER
There has been much talk about our freedoms as a people in the United States and how many or how few of them are being usurped, threatened or damaged by some decision made by some agency, politician or court ruling.
All facets of the political spectrum seem to have some opinion about this subject so near and dear to the hearts of all red, white and blue citizens.
Take the Patriot Act … The Fourth Amendment specifically states that any intrusion by government shall not be permitted without just cause or a warrant. The “emergency” legislation that produced this large governmental boot, the Patriot Act, was ginned up well before 9/11 by a Justice Department headed by some guy who lost re-election to the U.S. Senate to a dead man.
The opportunity to foist this invasion of our privacy by government resulted in the multi-billion dollar boondoggle bureaucracy known as Homeland Security.
The Bush Administration scared Congress into giving it carte blanche to staff this outfit to the tune of over 40,000 new government employees, dozens of new buildings and great publicity that have produced the illusion of security.
No attacks by crazed terrorists must mean that all this worked. The Fourth Amendment was the price.
So, how do you feel about having your telephone monitored, your e-mail read and your location checked every day? Are you a risk to our nation? Where are the warrants? Do we trust homeland security to be ever so diligent and fair? Be sure your grandmother doesn’t try taking bombs onto airplanes?
Instead of just directing better coordination of our intelligence communities that already exist, former Vice President Dick Cheney and the fear mongers created a whole new government agency and stomped on the Fourth Amendment.
We have laws that give women the freedom and rights to choose their reproductive decisions. The First Amendment guarantees each of us the freedom of and from religion. It also guarantees us the right to assemble peacefully, to speak our minds and have our grievances heard.
Why, then, are police used to break up the peaceful Occupy gatherings?
The media have the freedom to print anything they like, but the people have the freedom to decide whether the publications are real or claptrap.
Sadly, the press/media are owned by businesses who struggle with the ethical dilemma of printing and influencing information that may be opposite to the ownership’s view. Most, but not all media, practice high ethical standards.
The real question with the media is whether or not they are being complete in their investigations or just complicit with political pressure.
The conservative side of American politics keeps saying that the other guys are trying to destroy our freedoms. The more conservative the voice, the more freedoms are said to be in jeopardy.
Yet conservatives keep saying a Judeo-Christian agenda is the basis for our Constitution, that our fears justify our phones being tapped without a warrant, that a woman does NOT have the right to choose her own reproductive behavior.
They want to legislate who can marry whom and say that the mostly peaceful gatherings of the “Occupy” movement are illegal and harmful. Conservative media blasts every other media as liars and exhibiting irresponsible bias.
I don’t hear those freedoms being threatened by progressives or liberals. I hear: Let Freedom Ring!
– Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Marble Falls, TX, where he writes a regular column for the River Cities Daily Tribune. His latest book is A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, available through Amazon.