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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is That You, America?

Our Mayor and Police Chief here in New York have decided to take the easy way out of a "crisis" that so far only exists in London. They have decided for us and the rest of the nation which rights we should have and which are expendable. That's what leaders do, right?

"[Police Commissioner Ray Kelly] said that while most passengers would be searched before they passed through turnstiles, police would retain the right to conduct random searches on platforms and on trains. Passengers using New York's bus network would also be subject to searches, he said." - The Australian, article by David Nason

I say nation because they are setting a precedent which other states will most surely follow. New Jersey is scheduled to do the same next week. Soon, most major cities will have little reason not to introduce similar measures, thus changing the face of America. Will these measures insure the safety of our cities? I don't know. Maybe it'll serve as a deterrent for future attacks on the subways and buses. But only on the subways and buses. It does nothing for pedestrians or people who arrive in the city by other means(by car anyone?). And at what cost? I mean, sure it would definitely be a lot easier to find terrorists if we just relinquished our rights to our wise governmental leaders. But, then what are we afterwards? Are we still America?

If you read the quote at the top by Our beloved Police Commissioner, you'd see that the searches almost give the police unlimited authority to search anyone anywhere in the city. If they can search buses, where is the line where searches can begin? Does it start while you are waiting on the sidewalk for the bus or just standing near a bus stop? Can they only search you once you are on the bus? And when you consider the city is already bending the law to its desire, who's to say that the line won't be shifted tomorrow to allow them into your living room? All of this is really vague and unsettling and more to the point unconstitutional. That reason alone should be enough.

"We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary. Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find that right balance." - Mike Bloomberg

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We could probably stop the terrorist threat tomorrow if we insert GPS chips under everyone's skin or put I.D. collars on everyone, and put cameras everywhere. We would also lose what makes us American. Once our rights are pushed aside by those in power, whether it's under the name of security or anything else, no longer are they guaranteed but are subject to the desires of that governmental body. At that point our rights mean nothing and our government takes on a new face - that of a dictatorship. It is then that we become all that we have fought against in our nation's history. And when that day comes our country's past and values lose all relevance.

If you are concerned and want to get involved, you can begin at the NYCLU site. That is the NY chapter of the ACLU.