Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Your new name is THX 1138

Just a quick note as I try to get back into the swing of things. Head on over to Slate to get the low-down on the brave new world of John Ashcroft. They are running a four-part series on The Patriot Act and its successor, the Victory Act. It's frightening, not for what it does, but for the groundwork it lays down. The government pulling library reading lists isn't that Orwellian in and of itself. But it diminishes, ever so slightly, the privacy and liberty we have come to expect as Americans. Thomas Jefferson famously said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Some people use this as a justification of the Patriot Act. But what it really says to us is that we, the citizenry, must defend our rights and responsibilities at all times. We have been given a precious commodity: freedom. We enjoy some of the most far-reaching liberties the world has ever known. But we seem to have forgotten that those liberties must be watched and guarded over at all times. The public has become apathetic and, as a result, you have items like the Patriot Act passing Congress with little debate. The citizenry must become more active in politics once again, and I don't accept the excuse that Big Money makes it a pointless endeavor. The difference has been education. We have had a whole generation being educated without civics classes and with history books that highlight our national failures and discard our numerous achievements. With that kind of viewpoint, is it any wonder that fewer and fewer people vote, and that nascent dranconian laws are passed? But while we try to correct that educational failure, it's up to those of us now of voting age to stand up and defend what so many have died to protect. Vigilance is as much about preserving our rights as it is about defending our shores.

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