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Lost liberties

By Phillip J Hubbell
web posted January 7, 2002

Sitting around the house over the holidays, exercising my right not to wear shoes, I was listening to the news reports about all the other rights and liberties I was giving up due to this new fight against terrorism. I went out in the yard and picked up my newspaper, sure enough there were editorials screaming about the loss of freedoms and liberties, and they all wondered just how far it would go. How many of our precious rights were we willing to exchange for not being blown out of the sky next time we flew.

I travel a lot. I fly most every week to someplace in the country and I also fancy myself a writer. So, I guess the rights that mean the most to me is the right to travel and freedom of speech. Nobody is keeping me from traveling and here is my column ... so I guess those rights are intact. I can read the columns from the ninnies in the newspaper trying to scare us into fearing the war on terrorism. I can watch TV and listen to the network talking heads hysterically wringing their hands about how awful it is that an airline pilot wouldn't let a Middle Eastern man with a gun on an airplane. That sounded like a good idea to me.

Quite frankly, I can't think of a single right I had before September 11th that I don't have now. So, I thought I probably should look in the Bill of Rights and see if I missed any. Before I go too far, I would like to point out a remarkable thing about the Bill of Rights and rights in general that a lot of you probably didn't realize. First, the rights of man are not granted by governments, they are only restricted by governments, some more that others. There is no right to anything someone else has to provide. All rights are individual rights and deal only with things you can do for yourself or should be free from having done to you. You have a right to speak, a right to write down what you think, a right to start a media outlet and a right to your religion. You don't have a right to a microphone, a printing press, a free radio station or a church building with pews.

You have the right to bear arms. This has restrictions created by government and backed up by their tendency to bear more arms than the rest of us. You have a right to not have government soldiers boarded in your house unless they are your kinfolk and then it is none of the government's business. You have the right to be secure in your person, homes, papers, effects, etc...from unreasonable searches and seizures. It is the word unreasonable that is key here. Given that 19 of 19 September 11th hijackers were Middle Eastern men who got onto airplanes and killed thousands of our citizens, it isn't unreasonable for the government to be wary of Middle Eastern men getting onto airplanes. You see, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution doesn't not require that everyone die in fiery plane crash so that liberals and Middle Eastern men aren't offended by being reasonably singled out and searched.

No person can be held to answer for a crime, unless they are indicted by a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger. This is pretty clear. And only the most addled liberal university professor would argue that this is not a time of war or at least public danger. The other argument that this is talking about our soldiers only is okay too, because then it would only apply to American citizens ... which you must be in order to be a member of our armed forces.

All criminals will enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district the crime has been committed. You have a right to be confronted with witnesses, and you get a lawyer. I am all in favor of getting on with it for those arrested in the United States. Let us try these people, kick them out of our country or let them go if they are citizens and we don't have the goods on them. If they are in violation of our immigration laws, charge them, try them, and deport them. I have always believed, given the nature of all the other rights in the Bill of Rights that the right to a lawyer meant that you had a right to obtain a lawyer if you had the means. The idea that the government can compel lawyers to serve criminals in my mind violates the 13th Amendment that outlaws involuntary servitude.

Now, back to the notion of the loss of my civil liberties. I never have had the right to violate the law. I don't even have the right to violate the law in private and in secret. The main problem with liberal thinking ... aside from it being an oxymoron, is that liberals believe that as long as no one sees something happen, it is okay for the person to be doing it. They also seem to believe that the government should be less vigilant in its efforts to stop the kinds of events like the September 11th attacks. Rather than take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening, the liberals would tie the hands of the government in order that the perpetrators of terror have a fair chance of committing their crimes...less they be offended or inconvenienced at the airport.

So, in order to make it fair, I hereby volunteer to be offended and inconvenienced. I am a white male of European decent, and I give my permission to the people at the airport and to law enforcement in general, to pull me over, check my bags, make me wait in line or take me off a flight, simply for being a white male. Yes, I will be inconvenienced ... I will be offended ... but the lives of my fellow passengers and that of the people on the ground come ahead of my comfort.

Phillip J Hubbell is a Viewpoints contributor to The Dallas Morning News and is the author of Write Winger: Solutions for the Politically Oblique! Available from www.booklocker.com.

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