In the first week of the New Year, our federal government made moves to avoid public scrutiny; Ohio and Missouri took steps to protect citizens' rights; California foisted still more unreasonable and outrageous restrictions on the Second Amendment; and a Colorado city paid the price - literally - for unreasonable search and seizure.
A word of caution about the vastly changed landscape in the corridors of power: To assume that a new regime will automatically mean a new age of liberty is foolishness. Party affiliation does not guarantee respect for personal freedom; it merely offers indication of which freedoms are more likely to be prioritized for infringement. And our President-elect's proposed cabinet is a collection of mixed messages.
When the big guns fall silent, it might not mean the war is over. It may just mean they're reloading.
America, I've never stopped loving you and I never will. But I can't keep watching you destroy yourself. You have a problem with authoritarianism and it's affecting the way you think. It's been growing year by year, and now I'm terrified that it's going to kill you. It's time to admit that you've hit rock bottom and get help. I'll stand by you with every step. Please....
In September of 2016, two football players refused to stand for the national anthem, causing a furor over their perceived disrespect. Then, after a pair of terrorists launched back-to-back attacks which wounded dozens, our political leaders refused to stand for our national principles. So far, not much furor about that.
Maybe none of us should be singing about "the land of the free and the home of the brave" until we're certain we're still earning the title.
This past week, attorney Stephen Stamboulieh was able to force the FBI to correct their NICS system and restore a man's rights after a six-year delay. The success of the lawsuit is certainly cause for celebration, but the fact that it took six years and a federal lawsuit to make the FBI clear an innocent citizen's name should be cause for alarm.
What do you do when government knows it has made a mistake and refuses to correct it?
On July 5, 2015 - ironically, the day after Independence Day - America's "top cop" stood before the American people and declared that we are a nation of laws. It's just that they only apply to some of us.
Are your rights and liberties government-issued, and dependent upon the blessing of our courts? Or are they innate – your birthright to speak your mind; to defend yourself; to demand answers and compensation from your government; to maintain your privacy; to be tried by your peers, and to be able to defend yourself before them by facing your accusers? These were the same thoughts and dilemmas faced by the men who gave us this American experiment, and struggling with them ourselves is perhaps a better way to honor our nation’s birth then watching a fireworks display.
As you celebrate this Independence Day, take some time to ponder what “independence” really means to you - and whether we still enjoy it.
A slow month of writing does not mean a slow month for freedom. A horrific tale of a former cop now in his eighth month of solitary confinement for standing by his 5th Amendment rights; legislative resistance to giving up even the smallest bit of control; and bungling of "security processes" by everyone from state school boards to US Customs led the bad news. The good news came in the form of legal victories against regulatory agencies, a legislature living up to its state's ambitious motto, and two federal judges taking government to task.
In March, we explained our objection to background checks for firearm purchases. Recently, BuzzFeed Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton echoed many of our concerns. In his case, however, it had nothing to do with the Second Amendment but rather the First. It seems that a 2013 Presidential directive is allowing the Secret Service to mandate background checks for reporters.
We skipped last week's review to promote visibility for Burt Wagner's story, and have some catching up to do. Several stories came to light since mid-month, with all the volatility of spring - a true mixed bag of gains and losses for privacy, Second Amendment rights, state government overreach, and federal government integrity.
In 1796, President George Washington delivered his farewell address, in which he explicitly warned of the dangers political parties posed to just government. "[T]hey are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion...."
Yet, to look at our news headlines of late, one would think that our two major parties were our government, bound by the principles of our Republic and necessary to its continuity. Guest contributor Luke Wager has a more pragmatic - and, in our opinion, accurate - view of things.
To wit: The parties don't represent you. They don't particularly need you. And they most certainly don't care about you.
Burt Wagner was arrested for something that was not actually a crime. His home was raided, his finances were ruined, his family was traumatized, and he was "disappeared" for several days, stuck in solitary confinement while his wife and attorney tried to simply find out where he was being held. All warrants and grand jury testimony were secret and sealed, so he could not refute evidence or face accusers. In the end, all charges were entirely dismissed - once he agreed to let the federal government keep $80,000 of seized assets.
Welcome to our post-Patriot Act nation, where civil asset forfeiture is used to steal the life savings of innocent citizens who happen to catch the attention of a hungry government. As you read Burt's account - and he deserves that much - we'd like you to keep two questions in mind. First, does this even remotely sound like America? And second... how tasty do you think you look to a predatory prosecutor?
More gains for the Second Amendment and a revised look at privacy made pro-liberty headlines last week. Unfortunately, though, "overreach" was the primary theme: the ATF was caught installing surveillance devices; HUD redefined "racial discrimination" to increase its regulatory reach; a CA Congresswoman wants more cell phone tracking, this time of purchases; and the FCC delayed announcing a program was rife with fraud until the day after it was renewed.
There were some bright points this week, including an upcoming PA vote to abolish a corrupt court, the expansion of encrypted communication to over a billion people, and a(n almost imperceptible) victory for the Second Amendment in NJ. Sadly, though, these were overshadowed by stories of gross governmental overreach, expansion, and abuse.
We wish we could report better news.
Bogus headlines abound on April Fool's Day, so we'll stick to brevity in this intro lest you read too much into it. Second Amendment rights have been expanded, with one notable exception. And our government has developed an unhealthy interest in our genetic information.
Gun owners’ opposition to background checks is probably the most difficult position for non-owners (and even some owners) to fathom. Discussion often degenerates into pro-gun rights activists chanting “registration is confiscation” while anti-rights activists respond with cries of, “Paranoid gun nuts!” We hope this piece will shed some light on the objections by explaining the mechanics of how a background check works, what becomes of that information, and how it has come back to harm those who go through the process.
It was a week that favored liberty - with some notable exceptions.
Separate federal courts opposed - and even berated - abuses by both federal and state governments, while the DoJ appears to have abandoned its assault on Apple. Mississippi's legislature is considering a law to force transparency regarding civil asset forfeiture, and its Supreme court has again championed Second Amendment rights.
However, in the same week, a NJ state senator proposed that legislators and judges deserve rights denied to citizens; the governor of VA vetoed a bill to override his executive order disarming state workers; and a law-abiding NC man was arrested - for a video rental that he failed to return... 14 years ago.
In the early 19th century, the Luddite labor movement sought to improve their bargaining position with employers by destroying the industrial machinery that was threatening to make their jobs obsolete. The word "Luddite" has become synonymous with someone who rejects new technology.
But when that technology threatens much more than your job... is that such a bad thing?
In the last seven days, we’ve seen a number of stories about blatant government overreach and abuse of power. However, we also witnessed an expansion of Second Amendment rights in two separate states, and an Alabama legislator who is seeking to limit the power of the state over who we choose to marry. We also came across an organization with an honorable mission: teaching college students that they have every right to hold and express their personal political views while on campus.
It was a close decision, but we think the good guys won this week.
We know that one should not blame on tyranny what can be explained by bureaucratic incompetence but the combination of stories we found this past week does not seem to bode well for our First Amendment rights. Certain protests are now illegal; the DoJ is looking into whether arguing against climate change should result in charges; and FOIA requests are being blatantly ignored. We also found that a Mississippi legislator thinks parents should be graded on their involvement, and that the IRS exposed thousands of taxpayers to online identity theft.
On the bright side, the West Virginia legislature took a principled stand on behalf of its citizens Constitutional rights. So we've at least got something....
Who knew a Turkish proverb would have much to teach us about American political culture?
This week, we learned that two public figures were willing to speak out in defense of privacy and of Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, we also learned that protesting someone under Secret Service protection is now a crime. No, seriously.
Sometimes, it gets to be too much - one story was all we needed this week. The software used to determine - based on cell phone metadata - who is worthy of assassination is based on an algorithm that is, in the words of one security expert, "complete bullshit."
This is not about unlocking a phone. This is about a government that, in a few short years, has gone from judging how much insurance companies and doctors should be "allowed" to make to telling companies that their employees must work by compulsion.
Are you okay with that?
It was welcome news to learn a federal appellate court recognizes the individual right to be armed "in defense of hearth and home." It was less welcome to learn - from no less than US Director of National Intelligence - that intelligence agencies "might use" smart devices to surveil, track, and even recruit citizens.
Last week's major stories can best be summed up with one word: arrogance.
Over the last week, we've encountered not one but two instances of government seeking to limit its own abuses. That's a far smaller number than it should be, but still far greater than we've come to expect. Of course, we also found more demands for decreased privacy, so we're not entirely in the Twilight Zone....
This past week saw the further erosion of Second Amendment protections, but a small glimmer of hope for privacy advocates. Sadly, the greatest gain for freedom took place in The Netherlands instead of "The Land of the Free."
It seems that everyone has heard the expression, "You can't see the forest for the trees." It means that you've lost sight of the big picture because you've focused on a single facet of the situation. Unfortunately, having the expression be so universally known doesn't mean its warning has been universally heeded.
Over the last week, I’ve put together a list of almost one hundred and fifty stories from local news websites from around the country, from January 1st of 2015 through today. Each one represents an individual just like you who avoided or prevented bodily harm because they were armed. This list only skims the surface, yet still represents roughly one person every two and a half days defending themselves and others over the course of a single year.
This is the side of the gun control argument that is rarely discussed, and often maligned. But it's the side that deals with lives saved, and security preserved. It's the side that needs to be known, and to be a prominent part of any future discussions.
“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Charles Dickens could have been writing about politics in modern America.
Many politicians are using the terrorist attack in San Bernardino to call for more restrictions on the rights of American citizens. Sadly, this isn’t a particularly new response. What is new, however, is how close their justification is coming to nothing more than, “Because we said so.”
Our site has primarily focused on threats to our civil liberties but the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have generated intense news and social media coverage about "if it happens here." There has been some good advice doled out, but there has also been more than a little wild speculation and fear mongering. We’d like to offer our own perspective, in the hopes of providing some realistic advice of our own.
Constitution be damned! If you want to own a gun, you're empowering criminals. If you want to encrypt your communications, you're enabling terrorism. If you question the logic behind a protest, you're a racist.
Sound familiar? It should, because it's the same argument every time. And, as fallacious as it is, it's been working - because we've been letting it.
Humans have a terrible habit of letting "what we know" blind us to what we see, of letting our tactics lag behind our technology. More often than not, the consequences of this flaw are disastrous.
It's time to open our eyes, take a clear look, and change our way of thinking.
In his "Prejudices," H.L. Mencken wrote, "The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it."
The problem is, that effort can become so all-consuming and so intolerably frustrating that those romantics can themselves go a little insane. Hopefully, these tips help you avoid that fate as you soldier on.
North Carolina used its regulatory power to "redefine" private citizens as farms, and an activist was arrested in Denver on the charge of jury tampering - despite the fact that he was merely handing out educational flyers on jury nullification. Elsewhere, however, a U.S. judge, the DoJ's own inspector general, and Alabama citizens have all, in their own arenas, pushed back against tyranny. And personal privacy faces another threat beyond politics, as a popular Android app is found to leave users' phone completely open to malware infection.
Use of cell phone interceptors - such as Harris Corporation's "Stingrays" - may be banned or severely restricted in California, and justice finds a deputy who lied to procure search and arrest warrants.
However, data collection and mining continue to flourish at the federal level, including several initiatives to enlist consumer technology companies - an industry that is discovering its own vulnerabilities - as "Little Brother" surveillance assistants.
In 1958, DC Comics introduced a new character - "Bizarro Superman" - to their Superman storyline. He was a reversed shadow of the Man of Steel. His appearance was grotesque, his language convoluted and primitive, and his vocabulary was inverted, with "good" meaning "bad." A cute enough concept in a cartoon - but horrific in a nation of laws.
We now live in Bizarro America, where property is placed on trial, where guilt is presumed rather than innocence, where government secrecy and intrusion are applauded, and where citizens seeking privacy are treated with suspicion and contempt.
This past week had an absolutely horrendous laundry list of criminal offenses - child-stalking, extortion, evidence-shredding, data theft, land theft, violating tax laws. But there were no arrests because it was all done by the government and law enforcement.
Last week's stories covered fallout from a massive data breach, accountability for legislative overreach, a bit of surveillance karma - and proof that those who would be king refuse to learn from any of it.
When we launched this site, we anticipated using it as a forum for original (and sometimes lengthy) articles while relying on the more timely medium of Facebook for quick updates on current events. This seemed a logical breakdown - until we realized that not all of our readers have an interest in social media!
To reconcile this, we're going to try something new. Each Friday, we will offer a "week in review" post, containing a brief synopsis of what we've shared elsewhere. We hope you find this informative and useful, and we welcome your feedback.
The Declaration of Independence wasn't some stiff, dusty document written as a formality between governments. It was a suicide note written by men with everything to lose - and the expectation that they would lose everything - but who risked it all for the principle of individual liberty.
Don't mindlessly recite it. Don't skim it. Read it. Forgive the misspellings and grammatical mistakes. Look up the words you don't understand. But read it and try to put yourself in their shoes - if you can.
In the 1996 movie Ransom, Gary Sinise’s character chillingly recounts a key part of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, in which he describes a future humanity divided into Eloi and Morlocks. The Eloi live a life of safety and ease aboveground, to the point where they are ambivalent about nearly every blessing - and danger - in their lives. The Morlocks are underground dwellers who run the subterranean machinery providing the technological wonderland on the surface. And every now and again a Morlock will come to the surface and snatch an Eloi to eat.
We are becoming Eloi.
When we think about child protection laws, we envision caring social workers and brave police protecting those most in need of it - our children. We envision neglectful mothers, callously leaving their toddlers alone for days on end while they go off on some selfish bender. We picture abusive fathers, beating their offspring for every little offense - real or imagined. But what happens when the law protects your children from something you don't believe is harmful?
In his 1922 essay, "A Visit to Holland," G. K. Chesterton wrote, "I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act." In New Jersey, men and women are acting. The odds are stacked heavily against them. They will need every ounce of help they can get.
Our challenge to you: Act with them.
Last month, there was a revolution. It was quiet and went mostly unnoticed but it stopped regulatory overreach on two separate fronts. The people involved were ordinary citizens, just like you and me. They held no special position, possessed no special talent, enjoyed no unique connection to the halls of power. But they ground the system to a halt.
And it only took ten minutes and one email to pull it off.
"In a mass surveillance world where the law is unknowable, we live our lives not knowing what crimes we’re committing or when we’ll be detected and prosecuted. This has a chilling effect on how we live. We censor ourselves to suppress the underlying anxiety of knowing we’re criminals who are being watched and recorded.
"The end-game of mass surveillance is self-imposed subjugation. Threats and cages are no longer required because people believe resistance is hopeless. When we know we’re being monitored by those who have the power to beat, cage, and kill us, we imprison ourselves in our own fear.
"The message becomes unmistakable. The government is off-limits to meaningful criticism or resistance to whatever it dictates. Obeying authority is what we’re taught to do from childhood. You don’t want trouble, do you? Then don’t complain and abide by the laws. Next time somebody wonders how things got so bad, there’s your answer. "
America did not magically appear. It was engineered and designed by men who believed that legitimate power flowed from the citizenry to government, not the other way around, and that individual liberty was sacrosanct above all other things. Yet many fellow citizens are lining up to willingly sacrifice our civil liberties - the absolute essence of what made "the American Experiment" unique in history - on the altar of promised safety. As members of our national Senate debate the limits - if any - of domestic surveillance, we are now faced with a sickening question. Do you want to be possibly safe but no longer truly American, or to run the risk of physical harm to maintain our freedoms as American citizens?
We have created this monster. We have fostered the corruption of our communities; we have allowed an overabundance of laws, criminalizing all sorts of behavior; we have internalized the "us versus them" mentality; and we have accepted a double-standard of the application of laws and regulation between police and "civilians." We will not get past this - or even get through this - if we don't make some serious changes in the way we think, the way we act, and the way we treat each other.
Meganet Corporation offers a product line of "VME cell phone interceptors," and their "Dominator" model cannot be detected, and allows interception of voice and text, voice manipulation, text intercept and modification, calling & sending text on behalf of the user, and directional finding of a user during random monitoring of calls.
They only sell them to government agencies. And there were seventeen of them operating in the U.S. almost a full year ago. You'll forgive us if we're a little suspicious.
In the six months that we have been publishing, we haven't simply been passing along random tidbits of information. We've been talking about movements, about people and groups willing to do something to preserve our privacy and our liberties. Grand or modest, we've been writing about actions and events that may have long-lasting impact on our future as a free people.
And we've got some updates for you....
When agents of our laws - those who make them; those who enforce them; those who determine the fate of citizens who violate them - can execute their duty based on whim, or are not held to the standards they are allowed to enforce upon others, they remove all incentive for the law abiding to remain so. And if we, as citizens, do not take offense, do not take active opposition, and do not unceasingly demand accountability for such behavior, we deserve every horror that follows.
Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Thankfully, in the face of authoritarianism, American citizens have decided to make some noise. In both Oregon and New Jersey, everyday citizens are preparing to follow Colorado's lead and recall legislators refusing to listen to their constituencies.
Legislators are neither gods nor royalty. They are neither omniscient sages nor infallible experts. Not only do they not always have your best interests in mind, they sometimes are completely unaware of the ramifications of their actions. If you want to stay free, you must stay informed - and involved.
If the only thing that keeps members of society civil to each other is government compulsion to engage in commerce, we aren't living in a tolerant culture, we're living a lie under an umbrella of intimidation. When we seek to reverse laws that encourage cultural honesty and individual free expression, or to pass laws that penalize them and compel specific social and business interactions, we are acting like thugs. We're saying, "Government, they disrespected me. Go f*** them up for that!"
In 1984, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders sang, "I can't get from the cab to the curb without some little jerk on my back." Nowadays, it seems that we're living in George Orwell's 1984 and can't get from the cab to the curb without being surveilled, recorded, documented, and cataloged for future reference.
When did we become the Surveillance States of America?
We’ve posted many stories of a government reaching far beyond its intended bounds to infringe upon our individual rights and freedoms. We’ve introduced some tools that can help defend your privacy against mass data collection and intrusive surveillance. We’ve even introduced you to private citizens – just like you – who have launched their own counter-offense, pushing back against overreach.
But now, we’ve got something different. A group of citizens has launched a nationwide effort to teach Americans how to control of our government, not by fighting it, but by rediscovering and effectively exercising our civic authority to retake it.
It’s far harder than it sounds, but nowhere near as complicated as you might fear. All it takes is courage and knowledge, and if you can provide the former, the Center for Self-Governance – through public classes being held throughout the nation – will gladly provide the latter.
Odds are pretty good that you wouldn't be reading this unless you had some interest in the state of our country, maybe even some concern or suspicion that things simply weren't quite right. Odds are also good that you haven't done all that much about those feelings.
That's not a negative judgement, so please don't take offense. It's just an honest observation. Most people don't get involved because it's confusing... mysterious... arcane... intimidating. It's politics and labels like that evoke feelings in us. The problem is, caring about such labels has allowed something ugly and frightening and dangerous to grow unchecked behind the scenes of our day-to-day lives - and it's spreading.
If you're willing to listen, I'd like to talk about labels like "politics," and why we need to start letting go of them for all our sakes.
Alarmed by both government and corporate intrusion into private communication, software developer James Cary set about creating a tool that would allow him to encrypt text messages in a virtually unbreakable manner, using nothing more specialized than his smartphone's camera. Now, he's preparing to release his app for public consumption.
His Android app, "Message in a Picture" or MIAP, is a secure way to disseminate messages using a virtually unbreakable cryptography technique combined with a method that prevents unauthorized readers from even being able to see that a message exists. James took the time to talk with us about how the application works and what else may be on the horizon for future development.
On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, the FCC declared the Internet to be a Title II utility and therefore under their regulatory purview. Whatever American consumers may think they have gained in terms of service, the fact is we have all lost still more freedom. The United States has now joined the very despotic regimes we have condemned for their control of citizens' internet access.
Agit Pai, one of the two commissioners to vote against the move, has issued a scathing statement of dissent, outlining all that is wrong with this decision and laying the blame squarely at the feet of President Obama. "In short," Pai stated, "because this Order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have, I dissent."
His words - and his warnings - are worth reading.
The Washington Post has published an excellent article on the secrecy surrounding the use - and, in some cases, apparent misuse - of "Stingray" devices. More importantly, they included a diagram that illustrates in simple terms how the devices forces all phone in an area - even phones that are not in use at the time - to register with them, potentially accessing call records, history of cell tower access, and even the content of text messages.
Our thanks to Ellen Nakashima, Lazaro Gamio, and the Washington Post for this information.
It's not a pleasant admission but we live in a world where our privacy is under attack and you no longer need to "be someone" to have your personal communication intercepted and stored. Luckily, Swiss-based ProtonMail offers a browser-based email service with an encryption model that's been referred to as "virtually NSA proof" by Forbes magazine.
And it's free.
In America, the elected legislators of Congress build the machinery of law and political appointees to various regulatory bureaus and agencies are authorized to keep it running. The problem is, those regulators are throwing an awful lot of our liberty into the gears and Congress doesn't seem to be inclined to care, much less stop them.
Are you willing to try, even if it's about something that doesn't directly affect you?
Last week, we cursed the darkness and provided a not-very-rosy but very realistic assessment of the cost of pushing back. This week, we wanted to light a candle by providing examples of people who accepted that cost - and are taking ground anyway.
I learned many lessons during the course of my work with organizing Colorado's historic recalls and I hope to share them here. Some of them are strategic. Some of them are inspirational. You won't find those in this post. Here, you will find the ugliness, the frustration, the disappointment - because if you can't take that, the rest won't help you a bit.
If I knew then what I know now... I'd do it all over. Because my rights - my children's rights - are worth it. But I could've saved myself a lot of pain if I knew this was coming. Hopefully, it helps you to steel yourself and move forward anyway.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston S. Churchill
What if the Second Amendment was the only one we got to keep?
It sounds like an odd question but it’s been rumbling around in my head for some weeks now and, while the thought isn’t entirely formed (my apologies as I Braille my way through it here), it’s beginning to focus into a plausible – if disturbing – picture.
What if we end up keeping it because it will pose no threat when there’s nothing left to fight for.
This picture was taken inside a gas chamber at the Auschwitz death camp. It shows claw marks, scratched into the cement by bare fingers. Imagine the horror, panic and desperation felt by those trapped within as the gas stole the oxygen from their lungs.
Now imagine that you put those people there.
Earlier this week, a dozen French citizens were murdered for the crime of hurting people's feelings. We can dress it up as nicely as you'd like, complicate it beyond recognition, claim all sorts of justification based on religious or cultural grounds - but it doesn't change that simple fact.
In Missouri, almost three-fourths of St. Charles County voters passed a ban on red light cameras in their communities. However, the municipal governments of several cities in that county are suing to prevent the ban from being enacted.
When a representative government directly acts against the expressed will of the people that employ it, can it still be considered "representative?"
It's often said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing. Sometimes, though, it takes even less. Sometimes the good won't even admit that evil exists. Sometimes the good perpetuate evil through simple denial, willful blindness, and a stubborn, frightened refusal to see what is right before their faces.
Regulatory agencies such as the IRS and ATF have the legal power to ruin lives with random - and oftentimes unpublicized - changes to their interpretations of law. Despite being the target of at least two lawsuits over such a capricious "change of mind," the ATF has again declared something legal to one party, only to turn around and declare it a crime to another.
How can people remain law-abiding when the definition of what is legal is a moving target?
Regardless of your feelings about marijuana (or alcohol or guns or...), you need to look beyond the thing and look at the principle behind an issue. Do states have the right to govern themselves as their citizens see fit? Does your right to carry a weapon for self-defense hinge on whether you choose to use a substance - caffeine, alcohol, or pot - to influence your mood when you are not carrying that weapon? Or are our rights subject to the moral approval of our neighbors and the Federal government? And, if so, is there any limit at all to that precedent?
Sometimes, we create our own complexity, especially in matters of morals. Sometimes, we know exactly what we need to do but the implications and sacrifices it entails are so frightening that we choose willful blindness. It's a natural human response. But it's wrong.
There is a larger issue here and I fear that we are being distracted from it by the red herring of "stuff." It's not about gear, it's about attitude. It's about an "us versus them" culture that has been cultivated and allowed to fester by those who make the rules of our society - and we've all been suckered into buying into it.
Apparently, "Divide-and-Conquer" isn't just a good idea - it's the law.
A former officer of an organization that has been called "worse than the Gestapo" is appalled by our program of mass collection of citizens' data and communication. Our elected officials - of both parties - just authorized funding of that program and its retention of that information. And we are expected to simply trust those that are collecting it, with a fail safe of oversight by those politicians who signed off on it.
Are you outraged at the loss of our freedoms and liberties? If so, what are you willing to do to reverse it? If not... why not?
Ever feel like your old, worn-out right against self-incrimination is just cluttering up your home? Tired of tripping over unwieldy security of your person, house, papers, and effects? Well, a police chief in Wisconsin is willing to help you with that, all for absolutely no charge. Er... "fee," that is.
For a century and a half, we have ceded at least part of our authority as parents to the state. We have tacitly agreed that the state has the authority to tell us where to put our children, and the legitimate right to make them be there, lest we incur punishment for criminally neglecting them. With a precedent like that, have we lost our right to refuse anything "for the children?"
Police officers across America are now facing the prospect of working under a microscope, with a possible mandate to wear body-mounted cameras to make sure they're "being good." Many are offended by the implication that they are unprofessional and untrustworthy; that they must be treated like misbehaving children or miscreants, to be eyed with suspicion and monitored by some bureaucrat to keep them honest. They feel that they are being maligned because of the actions - or even perceived actions - of a small subgroup within their community.
To those officers, we American gun owners and privacy advocates say, "Welcome to the club - here's your orientation package and name tag, coffee's at the back table...."