Home > Liberty Under Attack > [Tru Blu Tuesday] Our Big Bad Bully

[Tru Blu Tuesday] Our Big Bad Bully

Just last week someone asked me “So what makes you angry?” I had to stop and think for a minute, because, believe it or not, I don’t get angry very easily. After giving it some thought I blurted out “Bullies.” If I can paraphrase my explanation to the inquirer: As a large person, I have always felt it is my responsibility to protect smaller and weaker people. When I see other people abusing their victims, that really gets under my skin. At the moment, I was thinking of individuals picking on other individuals. That was the context of bullying that was on my mind at the time. But when I arrived home later that day I realized my hatred of bullies stretched across a much wider spectrum.

On June 5th the story broke that the National Security Agency secretly got their hands on three months worth of Verizon customers phone NSArecords. They were able to see who called who, from where, at what time and so on. They did this to millions of people. They did this illegally, without a warrant. Yes, they butchered the Constitution en route to explicitly invading the privacy of millions. As I said before, I don’t get angry easily. When I read this piece of news, however, my blood boiled. As it turns out, bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

The story from The Atlantic

The New York Times calls out the Obama Administration

Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano rages

I expected a lot of outrage from this event. I fully anticipated that an all out uproar would take place from almost all Americans. I mean, most conservatives will jump at the chance to bark at President Obama, and civil liberties is a special pet of liberals right? Why wouldn’t there be a near-unanimous calling for accountability? I guess I’ll have to keep waiting.

Instead, I saw an unhealthy lack of interest and an extra dose of apathy. I gather that the cause of this is from two dominating modes of thinking amidst the public: a) It doesn’t affect me, as I have nothing to hide and b) What does it matter anyway?

Today, I’d like to answer those questions so we can all oust the bullies together!

Why it really does affect you:

The initial reaction to this story for many is “I have nothing to hide, I don’t care if they invade my privacy. Only bad people should feel nervous about this.” This mindset ignores the inevitable reality of what such a privacy invasion, if left unchecked, will lead to. By this logic, you won’t mind the government snooping into your purchasing data, your medical records, banking records, your internet browsing history, or even your cellphone conversations. “No way!” is the natural response, I would hope. “That is too far!” you might say. Oh really? Just how do you draw that line of yours? A favorite book from my childhood reads “If you give a mouse a cookie, he is going to want some milk to go with it….” It is only to be expected that if you give the NSA your phone records, it is going to want to know everything there is to know about you, and then some.

And what happens when the Federal Government gets a hold of that information? Well if you’re a Verizon customer they already know your calling habits. They know about those late night calls to that cute guy you met at the bar last month. (You know, the one not even your husband is aware of.) They know a lot about where you spend most of your time. (Like that one secret spot you thought you had all to yourself.) If the pattern of privacy invasion continues and they get to know more about you how much information will they find out? — They’ll know about those embarrassing fungal infections you’ve been researching online. They’ll know how much -or rather, how little- you have saved up in your rainy day fund. They’ll know all the flirty one liners you use in internet chat rooms. Of course they won’t find any terrorist activity associated with you…but they’ll get everything else.


Why this really matters so much:

Ok, so you still don’t care about your privacy. You wouldn’t mind if everything about you was known by some shady bureaucracy. That’s fine.

The most serious problem with what the NSA has done is that it has brazenly violated the Constitution, as a government agency, and may get away with it scott-free. (Note: The ACLU is currently pursuing a law suit against the agency.) The Fourth Amendment, in no uncertain terms, states 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,”. I keep quoting that Amendment over and over it seems, but it hasn’t changed since the ink that wrote it dried on the Bill of Rights two centuries ago. We still have our right to be secure and we still are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Amendment continues: “and no Warrants shall issue, except upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the places to be searched and persons or things to be seized.” Secretly gathering personal information from millions of people, without a warrant or even so much as a hint of probable cause is like taking a machete to the Constitution.

Our Constitution is the very foundation of our country. Everything about us rests on its words. We debate its content endlessly, as we should, but it remains the rock on which America builds its successes. On Memorial Day I wrote of the sacrifices made by men and women to preserve our freedom from foreign threats. The Constitution was written as the permanent guard to liberty from enemies within. Enemies that would like to abuse their power to exact control over us. So if the federal government can simply discard the rule of law, paint it as “keeping us safe”, and walk away as if they did nothing wrong, what is the point of having the Constitution in the first place? Why don’t we just let them walk all over it? Arms? Let them come and take my guns. Due process? Come put me in prison for absolutely nothing. Freedom of speech? Bind my lips so that I never utter another word. It is all a bully could hope for.

The molested principle here, is that the highest law in the land has been broken by the highest level of authority. We need to take that authority back for ourselves and put abusive government in its place: under the power of the Constitution of these united States. Then, and only then, will we have an answer for our big bad bully.

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