Liberty, Security, and Terrorism

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little
temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It would be nice if Benjamin Franklin’s famous
were as widely believed as it is quoted. I doubt that
Sen. Lindsey Graham and his ilk would express disagreement, but one
cannot really embrace Franklin’s wisdom while also claiming that
homeland is the battlefield
.” (The very word  homeland should
make Americans queasy.)

If we were to take Graham literally, all of America would look
as the
Boston suburbs
looked last Friday — but even worse, because the
government would be monitoring everyone’s reading and web browsing
lest it miss someone becoming “radicalized” in the privacy of his
own home.

Who would want that? Is it a coincidence that virtually every
dystopian novel prominently features a police force
indistinguishable from an army in combat and 24-hour surveillance
by the state?

The Boston Marathon bombing obscures the fact that terrorism is
actually less common in the United States now than in the
past, and that the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist
incident are rather small. (For some perspective, see Brian
Doherty’s article, “3
Reasons the Boston Bombing Case Should Not Change Our Attitudes
About Privacy
” and Gene Healy’s “Boston
Bombing Suspects Are Losers, Not Enemy Combatants.

An open and (semi-) free society cannot realistically expect to
eliminate the risk of indiscriminate violence. The cost in liberty
and dignity would be way

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