Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Republican Fear is Dangerous, Not Funny

I did a first draft of this post, and I started it with a clever knickname for frightened Republicans. I deleted that, though, because mocking the Republicans may amuse me, but it really is not funny. We have a serious problem here in America, when the majority party is eager to aggressively expand the role of government and police in our society. A new survey by Zogby International confirms some of my worst suspicions about Republicans and their level of fear.

Here is a sample of how far the Republicans are willing to go to shift the balance between liberty and security in our still-great nation. The following numbers reflect the percentage of Republicans who agree with the respective police measures, with the corresponding number for Democrats in parentheses.
Would you favor allowing these methods if it meant increased protection from terrorist acts?

* Allowing your purse, handbag, briefcase, backpack, or packages to be searched at random anywhere: 66 (45)

* Allowing regular roadblocks to search vehicles: 62 (38)

* Allowing your car to be searched at random: 60 (37)

* Allowing your telephone conversations to be monitored: 56 (20)

* Allowing your mail to be searched at random: 49 (26)
These numbers reflect a collective loss of nerve I never could have imagined in America. Maybe it is because I grew up in cold-war America, where an essential part of the definition of America was that we are free, in stark contrast to the spied-upon police states of the Communist world. Now that we have outlasted the restrained and restricted Reds, the Republicans want to become them.

Can you imagine regular roadblocks to search vehicles, and random pull-overs to do the same? In America?

American Republicans, who are you? Why does this seem like a good idea to you? Does this really sound like a fitting response to a few threats? This, from a nation that once prayed for the enslaved people of the Soviet Union and Cuba?

I'm not mocking the Republicans for their fear. I am afraid, too. I fear the authoritarian impulses of our own government and the corruptible people within it, though, more than I fear what terrorists can accomplish in the face of a determined and courageous nation.


Blogger dolphin said...

Allowing your telephone conversations to be monitored: 56 (20)

I wonder who where the 46% of Republicans who oppose this are and why they aren't speaking up since George Bush is already doing it.

9/06/2006 8:11 AM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

The cops already do roadblocks and random sobriety check searches -

I've been wanded down and had my purse searched at airports, concerts, ballgames, etc -

No one can convince me my e-mail is private - anything on the internet is game already -

Is there some NEW threat to my privacy? I doubt it. It doesn't matter whether a republican is in office or a democrat.

I can tell you one thing that really does piss me off though. The Social Security Administration has the names of tens of thousands of people who have stolen the social security identity of American citizens, but they are prohibited under some privacy law for sharing that information with the Immigration authorities and they apparently also will refuse to even give the information to the person whose identity has been stolen.

9/06/2006 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative and a reluctant Republican. I can't stand what this administration is doing to our privacy and our civil rights. I am surprised that ANY identifiable group other than card carrying Communists would approve of random, warrantless searches, roadblocks, car searches, etc. other than in those situations where the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it permissible. Frankly, even the card carrying Communists wouldn't favor such civil rights violations unless they were in charge.

9/06/2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

That says it all. I got nothing to add.

9/06/2006 10:22 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I can see for the need of such things in the very near future or I can see 4-6 million people dead when a nuclear bomb goes off. It is not if another 9-11 event happens it it when it happens.

9/09/2006 6:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Travelingal -

You provide a brilliant example of the slippery slope. Sobriety checkpoints do not involve vehicle searches (actually, I think the S Ct got this one wrong, but my opinion on that won't change the law). To say that sobriety checkpoints should clear the way for random vehicle searches is a sad erosion of freedom. Similarly, the difference between wanding your purse at an airport and wanding it anywhere is the difference between having your purse wanded where one has no legitimate expectation of privacy, and totally giving up the concept of expectation of privacy anywhere. Don't allow your freedoms to die from a thousand tiny cuts, travelingal!

Michael, I realize that you have apocalyptic fears. A real nuclear bomb going off is a theoretical possibility, but not much of one. There are, however, lots of bad things that could happen. In my mind, having America surrender its expectation of privacy is just as awful, and infinitely more likely, than a nuclear bomb.

9/10/2006 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The problem with your suggestion that we might need to give up our privacy is that even if we do, some crazed lunatic can still figure out a way to create mass destruction, death and mayhem. Living in a police state won't save us. I don't like to be fatalistic, but you cannot prevent crazies from doing crazy things. Consider recent efforts by terrorists. They will constantly adapt to whatever restrictions are in place. I could be struck by a meteor tomorrow, but I'm not going to live in a cave to make sure that doesn't happen. I'd rather live my life as a free man and hope my life is not prematurely cut short by some freak event. To always live in fear is to choose to live in a prison of your own making.

9/11/2006 11:13 AM  

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