The Red & Black’s editorial: Safety vs Freedom

A long lasting debate exists in our nation. The two competing sides both try to maintain the granted freedoms in the American Constitution with their position, but there is only one true answer that safeguards American freedom.

That debate includes two sides: protecting each American citizen’s right to privacy and making  necessary compromises to this freedom in order to prevent any potential threat from existing within things such as the internet.

It’s completely understandable why someone would want to advocate for government surveillance such as this. Although it might prevent something like a terrorist attack, the aversion of a potential attack does not justify the blatant violation of the inalienable rights that are granted to each individual citizen.

People should have the right to communicate with one another over the internet or through cellular communication devices without the fear that a government agency might be spying on each conversation that you might have.

That being said, there is merit to monitoring what people are saying in a public domain area of the internet. For example, if someone is cyberbullying another, or making death threats to another person on their Facebook feed, Instagram post, Twitter, etc, then they should absolutely face the repercussions of their actions.

Since these areas are available to be seen by anyone, it makes complete sense for the authorities to use this as reasoning for punishment. Public social media feeds can have just as much of an emotional and mental effect on someone as a public area such as a crowded shopping mall can.

That being said, private messages and private conversations should not be monitored by prying eyes in the name of “national security.” The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. If people cannot even maintain the privacy to speak to others through the tools available to us, then we have completely ignored the constitutional rights given to all citizens. The day that we give up our own constitutional rights just to feel a little safer is the day that we surrender to our own fears.

 

The idea that we should give up a large portion of our freedom to gain safety is quite ridiculous. These sacrifices tend to lead to the government over extending its reach by a large margin.

One of the most extreme examples is Nazi Germany; where the government controlled all media and it allowed the government to gain almost complete control over the beliefs of its people.

The reasoning behind this was to unite the people against a group that was, at least according to Hitler and the Nazi Party, the cause of all of their problems. In this, the Nazis were able to sneak in and chip away at the freedoms that are truly essential.

At this point, the sacrifice of freedom for the sake of safety becomes counterproductive because the lack of freedom removes the ability to defend oneself, freely speak or have privacy. These freedoms are essential to having an individualistic and safe society.

This is one of the most extreme instances throughout history, but there are modern examples as well.

Modern-day China is a huge example of how an overreaching government is dangerous. The overbearing Chinese government heavily censors its media as a means of protecting the citizens from themselves.

This government censors any and all media that conflicts with their point of view. This gives an “everything is fine” mentality to many citizens when from an outside perspective. Everything is obviously very not fine.

Both the Chinese and Nazi governments are examples of what can happen when a government reaches too far to protect its citizens from real and non-real threats.

In the United States, the conflicts between the people and the government become more common and more severe seemingly by the day. Whether it be the news that Facebook sells its users’ personal information to the government or that the government can see into our private text messages.

The idea that media control is necessary for a safe society is simply untrue. The freedom of free speech is just too important to give up.