Thursday, July 26, 2018

Liberty Makes Us Unfree, Says the ACLU

J.D. Tuccille

..."Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to address," senior policy analyst Jay Stanley insists on the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project blog. As a result, he argues, "those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they're willing to trade for those rights."
This is the old "why do you make him hit you?" argument applied to civil liberties. It excuses the actions of the abuser—the state in this case—as reactions to the missteps of the abused. But it's actually a step further removed, because most gun owners fly entirely below the state's radar. They're among the general population getting slapped by policies that politicians justify as responses to the crimes of a tiny minority.
This is also a blame-the-innocent argument that can be applied to so many civil liberties.
The FBI wants back doors into cell phones because terrorists and criminals occasionally use encryption? You wouldn't have to worry about overreaching law enforcement if you'd just drop your stubborn advocacy for privacy.
Authoritarian politicians want to clamp down on the Internet because a few basement dwellers get radicalized in online chat rooms? We could calm the calls for censorship if you'd abandon your defense of free-wheeling speech rights.
Anybody with a limited taste for defending freedom—or an actual hostility to the same—can construct a similar "stop making them hit you" argument against the exercise of any sort of liberty that makes government officials nervous. Which means that there's no end to it, because the whole idea of people going through their lives unguided and unmonitored ultimately keeps government officials awake at night. That's why they'll grab for any excuse at hand to expand their power and control.

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