Many Americans think right now that they “have nothing to hide” and that if the government says that it’s necessary for them to be spying on everyone, then all right then, it must be the truth. After all, my government would not lie to me.
There are multiple dimensions to this issue but I’m going to confine myself to just one for the time being.
If you think that the Fourth Amendment against “unreasonable search and seizure” is trumped by the “War on Terror” and that there is nothing “unreasonable” about “search and seizure” and that the government’s searching and seizing everything about everyone is ok and that we may as well get rid of the Fourth Amendment, then you are also saying that you and everyone else in the entire society from now until the end of the “War on Terror” (which will last, according to Cheney, for generations) should give up entertaining, let alone acting on, a desire or need to dissent from what the government is doing for essentially ever.
Why is that?
By giving up your and everyone else’s rights to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure and your approving of the government conducting search and seizure of yourself and everyone else in the entire world, you believe, in other words and in effect, that you and everyone else should give up your and their right to freedom of speech and assembly forever because you have decided that it is appropriate for the government to have truly comprehensive, detailed information about each and everyone of your and everyone else’s associations – every person you know, have dealings personal and/or professional with, and how close you are to them; any and all personal information about you – what you’ve done or not done during your life and also what everyone else has ever done, embarrassing, illicit, or otherwise.
You are ok with them having all of this in their hands and not worried that they will ever be tempted to use it against you – either in fully accurate form or in any conceivable distorted but plausible form in a concerted effort by those who are in authority to character assassinate you and everyone else who they don’t like and disagree with – because you have given up your rights and those of everyone else in the society to ever run afoul of authorities in any way whatsoever.
What happens when someone, you or anyone else, tries to stand up and resist something that those in authority want to do? What has been the experience of each and every person and organization that has resisted what those in authority want to do? Do those in authority listen solely to reason and are they persuaded by reasoned argument? Are they willing to revise what they are doing because anyone points out to them the error of their ways? Is not the historical record that authorities and governments tend to use their authority and power to silence, ridicule, marginalize, or eliminate those who challenge them?
When you say that you’re ok with giving up the Fourth Amendment, you are not only foregoing your right and ability to ever dissent from authority, you are abandoning the right of each and every other person and organization everywhere of ever dissenting and organizing against anything that authority says forever.
While you might think that this is ok, then what happens if by hook or by crook a dictator gets into office and institutes fascist measures across the board slowly but surely over the course of years in every arena in public life and you no longer have the right and ability to organize and speak up and no one else does either because you willingly allowed the Fourth Amendment to be destroyed?
Do you think you would recognize it when such a person comes to power and then object?
How could you when you don’t recognize how this is already going on step by step on a slippery slope NOW?
This article originally appeared on dennisloo.com.