How far is too far?

Published 8:54 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2003

By By Lindsey Sherrill
Staff Writer
I read yet another article a few days ago regarding the safety features and so-called "improvement" that the government continues to install, and I wonder, Where will it all end?
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks much attention, most of it fear driven and, dare I say, terribly exaggerated, has been given to the ideas of national security. Airport security has been increased to unbelievable and, in some cases, ludicrous levels. Baggage searches can take hours and lines stretch on forever. The newest turn in the saga of "homeland security measure" is a frightening new rule for international travel.
The new proposal requires all Americans traveling oversees to file an itinerary of each stop they plan to make on their trip. This itinerary must pass security checks and will be filed with national government agencies who will check the plan, just in case they should find any "terrorist ties" or suspicious activity.
What?!! Are you having the same reaction that I did when I read the above information? How can this be? Perhaps I am being an extremist, but I find a chilling, slightly Gestapo-like overtone to the fact that such an idea would even be considered, much less implemented.
In recent days the popular political cartoon Doonesbary has been running comics dealing with the governments supposed tactics for dealing with terrorist suspicions. Normally, I don not agree with the liberal slant of the cartoon or with the way it treats certain issues, but in this case I believe I can see the point. How many basic civil and political rights will be taken in the name of security? At what point does freedom outweigh security?
Some of the most basic of Americans constitutional rights are those of privacy and freedom from undo government scrutiny. Yes, security is a concern, and many measures are greatly needed and legitimate. But when the government begins to reach into such affairs as vacation plans and must approve them it is going too far. Freedom and democracy do not come without a price.
Perhaps in America's case, the price means uncertainty or threat. The crazed paranoia (whether justified or unjustified) of the Bush administration is not in keeping with the spirit of America. America faces danger with determination, not by making prisoners of her own people.
Lindsey Sherrill is a staff writer for The Atmore Advance.

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