"> Log Cabin Chronicles John Mahoney's Liberty and Freedom column

John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.21.01
Fool's Hollow, Quebec


What price liberty?

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin 1759

Fear and suspicion, these are the responses of the majority in North America today and I believe they will continue well into the coming decade.

Life in a Surveillance Society will be embraced, a War on Civil Liberties will be excused, explained away as necessary to protect our shores, 'Our Way of Life.'

Never mind that countless North Americans have fought and died during the past several centuries to ensure continuation of this way of life: a classless society with freedom of speech and freedom of movement.

Curtailment of certain basic freedoms, it will be argued in cleverest of Newspeak, is necessary -- that is the price of freedom.

Are you ready to produce upon demand to any 'authority' figure -- cop, rent-a-cop, bus driver -- your national identification card?

You already have your national id number. All you need now is a photograph and all of your personal data encoded in a tiny chip. Encase it in plastic and Big Whoever will be able to identify and track you instantly. Smart cards, indeed.

Got a 'foreign-sounding' name? Have dark skin? Wear a sari or a turban? Watch your back. And your front, too, for you may be The Other in some law enforcement 'profile.' Remember what we did to Japanese-American citizens in WWII?

Do you march to the beat of a different drummer, do you hold contrary opinions? Worse, do you speak them in public or write them where others can read them? You may find you exercise your right of Freedom of Speech at your peril.

Dissent is never well accepted in times of turbulence. Remember the jeers of 'Commie' and 'traitor' during the Vietnam War? I do not think we are entering a period of tolerance for those who insist on speaking out against war and massive retaliation.

At best, dissenters will be labeled as dupes giving aid and comfort to some not-yet-clearly identified enemy.

And that is the really sorrowful part -- we may all become potential evil doers to those who do not know us intimately, not just to the state trooper in his cruiser, the national guardsman on active duty, the federal officer at the border crossing.

North America is not a hopeful, trusting place today and I do not believe it will be for years to come.

And I fear that it's entirely too possible that now we are at this fork in the road, we may take the wrong path and become that which we have always professed to hate.

Eternal vigilance, Thomas Jefferson warned, is the price of liberty.

How much do you value your freedom and liberty?