On security and
by DICK DORWORTH
has heard the sophomoric witticism, "He who dies with the most toys
wins." And so has everyone heard the poignant Kris Kristofferson
line, "Freedomís just another word for nothing left to lose."
describes the end of the road (and, apparently, the goal) of those for
whom security in life is a contest measurable by material possessions. The
second indicates what happens to those who use freedom to avoid lifeís
difficulties instead of a means to keep growing, learning and staying
been in my mind since a recent conversation about the changes in America
after Sept. 11, in which a man I like and respect said, "I donít
mind giving up freedoms for security." For me, such a statement, and
the fears behind it (and the realities in front of it) are disturbing.
They are also dangerous to the life of the mind and to oneís ability to
think and make informed judgments and decisions. They are destructive of
democracy and of the institutions that preserve it.
the question seems to be, What use is security without freedom?
the question is, What use is freedom without security?
is neither absolute freedom nor absolute security, the answer to each
question involves a middle road between the two. How much freedom do you
give up for security? How much security do you give up for freedom?
It seems to
me that these are matters best decided by each individual according to
individual needs. And I do not mean one individual deciding for another.
They are not matters that can be rationally thought about, much less
decided, from a foundation of fear, individual or collective. Before Sept.
11, few Americans would have said, "I donít mind giving up freedoms
for security." The fear inflicted on the American psyche by the
horrors of Sept. 11 changed everything, and that fear, and many of the
decisions being made from it, are more disturbing than terrorism itself.
It is not inconceivable that they will prove to be more dangerous and
destructive than terrorism itself to freedom itself.
sparsely populated Idaho, there has been the fearful and ludicrous (and
poor) example of the governor barricading the State Capitol, making
himself and a handful of fellow politicos secure against the imagined
hordes of godless Taliban, fording the Boise River, knives drawn, seeking
to bring down the strategic and symbolic center of Dirk Kempthorneís
inflated imagination. Meanwhile, the freedom of Idaho citizens to do
business, seek information, monitor, question, criticize, watch or even
visit the workings of state government has been seriously impaired, all at
considerable taxpayer expense.
In New York
and Washington, citizens are no longer free to walk down the street
without being monitored by surveillance video cameras providing an
ill-defined sector of the populace a questionable security and an
unquestionable loss of freedom to anyone who believes that Big Brother and
freedom are antithetical, all at considerable taxpayer expense.
A couple of
weeks ago a U.S. Department of Energy official told an audience of people
in Twin Falls that the nuclear waste buried just east of the Wood River
Valley at INEEL will not be removed, as scheduled, mandated and promised
by the federal government, because of Sept. 11. That nuclear waste will
continue to impact the health of the people and the environment of Idaho
and beyond. While the governor is barricaded against phantom threats in
Boise, just a few hundred miles east the real threats to the health and
well being of Idaho citizens are ignored. The question is, Whose freedom
is being secured and at whose expense?
been many hundreds of people detained for months with no charges filed
against them, no evidence against them that they have broken any laws,
and, in many cases, no word given to their families about where they are
or what they might expect. United States law, which is the foundation of
both freedom and security, has been suspended. Many citizens who do not
mind giving up freedoms for security approve of the suspension of law in
the case of these detainees. You never know when one of "them"
might turn out to be a terrorist, and those who arenít are simply
casualties of war. Too bad for "them." But you also never know
when a law once suspended for "them" might be suspended for you.
Too bad for you. A law once suspended is no longer a law, but only a tool
of expediency for whoever wields power.
who currently wield power have even created, literally, a shadow,
underground, bunker government. The public does not know who comprises
this bunkered government, nor does it know the physical location of that
government. The public does know that it has been put in place without
elections, that the democratic process as been subverted in the name of
security, that it is not a government of the people, for the people and by
sacrifices of freedom to security necessary? They are certainly being
accepted too easily, with far too little scrutiny or resistance, with
barely a whimper of protest from people who donít mind giving up
freedoms for security.