Tuesday, November 22, 2005

People's willingness to give up other people's rights

There's a nice op ed in the San Francisco Chronicle from a last Monday, by a civil rights lawyer, Ben Rosenfeld, about why it is a bad idea to make common behaviour a criminal offence.

The origin of a police state in this country, I believe, is this: We gradually exchange a rights-based system, in which governmental power is limited by law, for a paternalistic one, in which we may all be arrested for one thing or another, but authorities forebear from doing so, or intruding in our lives, until they subjectively brand us "bad guys."...

Perhaps we will have to keep throwing away rights that matter more to other people for a time, until we realize that we are throwing away our own rights in the process. Only then will we start to create a society truly founded on principles of equal protection and mutual support."

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