Monday, March 17, 2008

Wastes of Time and Wire Taps

I've made the editorial decision to pretty much ignore the latest tempest in a teapot controversy surrounding Barack Obama's pastor. Frankly, I don't see it as a big deal. The only thing it really does is give us a preview of what the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania primary are going to look like. The Obama campaign took down Ferraro from the Clinton campaign. Now the Clinton campaign has taken down Wright from the Obama campaign. Maybe now they'll go back to real campaigning. Somehow, I doubt it.

On a note of actual substance, Julian Sanchez wrote a great article in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend about the real dangers of wire tapping. First, Sanchez makes the point that pretty much since the wire tap was invented, political leaders have used it against their enemies to forward their own ends and seek more power. This was all done in the name of national security of course. But, you know, once you start violating the Constitution it's hard to stop.

Sanchez also refutes the argument that if you are a regular, law-abiding citizen who doesn't spend his free time consorting with terrorists, you don't really have anything to worry about, even if the government is listening in on you. That always bothered me as a slippery slope toward Big Brother in which all opposition is crushed by, "What do you have to hide?"

Sanchez, however, points out that most of us never have and never will invoke our first amendment rights (or many other Constitutional guarantees, come to think of it). But while we may not have anything particularly controversial to say, we recognize the importance of allowing others to say controversial things for the sake of our democracy.

When we start allowing our liberties to be taken, we lose our freedom. In a nation built on liberty and justice for all, that's simply unacceptable.

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