Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taking the First Amendment for Granted

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Everyone once in a while, I stop and take in the brave new world we live in. We are always connected if we choose to be and sometimes when we choose not to be. Whether on Facebook, YouTube, Linked In or Twitter, we are saying things and commenting like never before. Imagine what Thomas Jefferson or James Madison would think if they knew just how far free speech has come. From a guy orating on a stump to some idiot trolling websites anonymously, we are stretching the bounds of opinion on a daily basis.

That's why it amazes me just how many people take this freedom for granted. Like every God-given right, we have to be vigilant to protect those we have. China shows how easy it is to not only keep the free flow of information from the masses (although some does get in and out) and the junta in Beijing knows the power if they were to ever lose that iron grip. The Soviet Union would never have survived the 90's and 00's because technology does not advance under communism and the propaganda would have been exposed for what it was. NoKo is another animal all together but it's a much smaller brainwashed nation...but I digress.

The freedom to speak and say what you want without repercussions is under siege. Liberals (and some libertarians and conservatives including this one ) screamed in outrage when the Patriot Act was passed to combat terrorism. The least escalation of government in our lives is abhorrent to any true freedom lover and the reassurances by the Bush administration did little to assuage the feeling.

Fast-forward to the current administration and take a quick look at what they are doing. If Bush had even tried to do a sixteenth of what Obama is doing, MSNBC's prime time lineup would have spontaneously combusted on the spot. Chris Matthews would have been even more incoherent than normal and Rachel Maddow would have looked into the camera even more deeply with that faux intellectual look she always affects.

Our rights are not to be trampled and we're seeing more and more on a daily basis. The latest example has been squashed by a judge but the fact they tried this is bothersome. An unnamed telecom company was served with a letter concerning customer information that not only forced them to not discuss the issues raised but to even announce they've received the letter, thus keeping us, the consumer from knowing the government was snooping around in our accounts.
Both challenges are allowed under a federal law that governs NSLs, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act that allows the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs over the years and has been reprimanded for abusing them — though almost none of the requests have been challenged by the recipients.
I encourage you to read the entire essay. Our freedoms were guaranteed to us by wiser and more visionary men than we have in charge today. In fact, they were put in place to stop the power grab of men like we currently have in office.

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