Knee jerk opposition

Bob Wyman provides an example of thinking in plattitudes.

Moe, like George Bush, invokes the mantra “this is a war” to justify his acceptance of universal surveillance. But, in focusing on the new “war” against terrorists Moe forgets the older and never-ending “war” to protect our freedoms. In that war, just as soldiers who march to battle, we must all accept some occasional discomfort in order to achieve our goals and fend off defeat. In this case, it is best that we avoid the easy answer of universal and unrestricted wiretapping, and potentially let a few terrorists succeed, rather than teach us all to live in and accept a world in which we have no privacy — a world in which we have lost our freedoms. Freedom is not free.

There are so many issues with this rationale. One is the scare quotes around “this is a war” and the labeling that as a “mantra” – a legitimate question ridiculed. Another is the “universal and unrestricted” falsehood state as axiom. Then there is the ‘best to let a few terrorists succeed’ that, in this era of WMD should really give pause.

The fact is that people in a social environment, and people are social and do not live alone, never have privacy and never have had privacy. The question is really what others do with the information they have about us. Our society and culture has advanced in part because it emphasizes the doing more than the knowing. We know a lot of things about our neighbors but we do little unless we find that some line is crossed. This is the essence of a safe neighborhood with people watching each other and what is going on so that anomolies can be detected and acted upon.

It is a dishonest argument to pull out a bogeyman on a false fear and then cite high minded plattitudes like “freedom is not free” to rationalize subjugation to terror.

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