Thom Sudol / June 1, 2011

The Incremental Assault on Liberty

Not so long ago, preceding the renewal of the Patriot Act by Congress, Sen. Rand Paul crafted a video explaining why he was opposed to renewing the Patriot Act. Subsequently, he offered 2 amendments to correct the more egregious violations of the Constitution perpetrated by the Patriot Act and delivered an impassioned defense of his position on the Senate floor. Plain and simple, Senator Paul believes in individual freedom: it is sacrosanct, it is enshrined in and protected by the Constitution. In addition, the American people have the means to redress that which violates individual freedom, even if it means taking up arms to defend that liberty. As we now know, Sen. Paul lost his fight and the Patriot Act has been extended by Congress. I would contend that he was right to stand up and oppose the extension of the Patriot Act, while I must also concede that the Patriot Act has yielded some benefit in our defense against terrorism. However, the Patriot Act as merely one form of attack on individual freedoms occurring in our nation. There is a growing host of even more egregious bootprints being placed on the necks of Americans. Many of these intrusions are local, county-wide, or state-wide in scope. Considered together with the Patriot Act, I am concerned there seems an emerging pattern of government overreach, seeking more power and thus, more control over our lives. Consider these few examples of the increasing reach of the government, gleaned from the news of just the past few weeks.

On May 12, 2011, the Indiana Supreme Court essentially nullified the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment by declaring in Barnes vs. Indiana, “In sum, we hold that [in] Indiana the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law.” Say what? Can you say judicial activism with me? In the pastoral and conservative state of Indiana, there exists a Supreme Court so arrogant as to posit itself above the law of the land? I will never purport to be a legal scholar, but it is logical to say that citizens of Indiana have lost a key protection under the Constitution. What redress do they have if police, or someone pretending to be police, force their way to their homes? Will this decision have any effect on the right of Indiana citizens to keep and bear arms? After all, it would make sense to ensure there are no weapons in homes so as to avoid “dangerous” resistance to an unlawful entry, right?

San Francisco’s ballot initiative to ban circumcision in males under 18 represents another governmental overreach into the most personal and private parts of our lives. It is also a denial of the freedom of religion, as circumcision is a ritual of the Jewish faith. While it is still only a ballot initiative, the proponents of this ban seek to ignore medical evidence that detail the health benefits of circumcision so that males can achieve new heights of sexual pleasure. A pretty selfish approach at best, but what should one expect from the San Fran lib establishment? It is interesting to note that at least one other California community is considering a similar ban. I could say stay out of our pants, but I’d rather simply trumpet the left’s mantra by saying: don’t try to legislate your morality or [anti-] religious beliefs on me.

On 5/5/11, The Hill reported that the administration “has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.” Add to this, the very recent report that the National Highway Traffic Safety administration is expected to call for the installation of Event Data Recorders (black boxes) in all automobiles. A May 31 report at Design details some of the controversy surrounding what data should be recorded, who owns the data and who should have access to it. Step back a moment and consider: it is certainly no quantum leap of the imagination to assume that, if the government is considering a mileage tax and mandating black boxes in all autos by some future date, the Feds will have access to that data to insure we all pay the correct amount of our VMT (vehicle miles traveled). What other information about our driving habits will they seek to have access to? Will they want to monitor the movements of “suspects,” however they define them? Any way you slice this, it reeks of BIG Government intrusion on our individual liberty.

Back in May, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission announced they would partner to review “the risks of location-based services,” following reports that Apple and Google were compiling data on smartphone users’ locations. While customers don’t seem all that concerned about the potential loss of privacy, Congress and obviously, the FTC and FCC do. Why? Do they want to know where people are and what they might be doing? Once the FCC and FTC gather up all the online comments and hold their public forum on June 28, what then? Will there be some legislative action proposed to ban location tracking software? The more likely scenario might be an invocation of the Patriot Act, demanding that Google and Apple share select users’ location information with the feds. Built-in GPS and software like Google’s Latitude provide smartphone users with tremendous conveniences, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll be banned. But even if they are regulated, is that not a restriction of our freedom to choose and to enjoy the convenience that such phones offer?

Gun control is an issue that has been muted of late, despite the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords back in January. There was an initial furor, but it died down very quickly, once it was discovered that Jared Loughner was not a right-wing crank. However, we should not assume the administration is not seeking further regulation of firearms. After President Obama called for tougher background checks, the Justice Department has been meeting quietly with officials and gun control advocates. Rather than consider better enforcement of the plethora of existing laws, there are a number of existing proposals that seek to restrict certain types of weapons and magazines, toughen up background checks, and add new reporting on multiple sales. Fortunately, such proposals are languishing in the Republican-led House; the President isn’t pushing too hard either because he knows he can’t get any legislative traction on gun control. Meanwhile, meetings with gun control advocates are still happening under the radar and the President has said, according to Gun Owners of America Director Larry Pratt, “there’s a lot going on under that radar.” One of the big fears put forth by gun groups is that the President is not above issuing executive orders to accomplish that which legislation cannot. Might the low-profile, information gathering posture currently in effect, be the prelude to an executive order banning large magazines and imported long guns? (Source:; May 28, 2011)

These are a few examples of the left’s incremental approach to eroding our liberties. I have no doubt that many more exist, perhaps even at the township and community level. I can only encourage you to do some homework and raise your awareness about what is happening around you. If we think for a moment that Big Brother is a fictional concept, we are sorely mistaken and our liberties may be gone before we awaken.

Author: RedCav – follow me on Twitter (@RedCav)

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