I recall lying on the floor of an empty new house on an air mattress with nothing but a small, black & white television. This time was summer 1968 during the Democratic convention in Chicago. News footage showed police (or, perhaps, National Guard) battling with demonstrators. Alone in an empty house, this had an affect, which influenced major decisions in later life. One decision was to become a helicopter pilot (there were other factors, as well) and to request stationing in Germany following my tour in Vietnam. I was an officer and a large portion of the soldiers were black. I could not see myself leading troops against fellow citizens, especially black against black.
When I see footage from the United States, like is being aired on the world’s media this week, I am happy that I made those decisions. I do not want to live in a militarised country…especially one that is not at war (except with itself!). And, I left a country that has turned its back on most of the Constituion and Bill of Rights….except second one.
The following story explains why I no longer want to visit the land of my birth.
I am happy to live in a town that has no police station, which says a lot about the quality of life in the country in which I reside. Of course, there are law and order issues, but one does not fear be abused by goons with too much time on their hands and too many lethal toys with which to play.
Each article or discussion about recent revelation of the US Government’s program of “spying” on all telephone and internet exchanges usually contains a quotes along the lines of “you have nothing to fear, if you have done nothing wrong”.
I am willing to wager than every human has broken some law. No one can know all laws, especially esoteric and historical statutes. Daily practices often eclipses rule, which all have forgotten, never known, or ignore.
That makes the government surveillance program an ideal tool for anyone wishing to screw up an opponent’s life. And, some over-ambitious civil “servant” can harass whoever he or she chooses to target. Or, worse, a contract employee can earn a bonus by fingering as many suspects as possible. The following column is scary (especially since my fingerprints are on file and I live in Europe)...
Of course, governments never break a law, because they make laws to suit their practices...
A good question posed in today’s Guardian...
Why does America lose its head over 'terror' but ignore daily gun deaths?
The marathon bombs triggered a reaction that is at odds with last week's inertia over arms control
A few key excerpts:
“...It was yet another depressing reminder that more than 11 years after 9/11 Americans still allow themselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the "threat" of terrorism.”
“...by letting one fugitive terrorist shut down a major American city, Boston not only bowed to outsize and irrational fears, but sent a dangerous message to every would-be terrorist – if you want to wreak havoc in the United States, intimidate its population and disrupt public order, here's your instruction booklet.”
“At the same time that investigators were in the midst of a high-profile manhunt for the marathon bombers that ended on Friday evening, 38 more Americans – with little fanfare – died from gun violence.”
“Americans seemingly place an inordinate fear on violence that is random and unexplainable and can be blamed on "others" – jihadists, terrorists, evil-doers etc. But the lurking dangers all around us – the guns, our unhealthy diets, the workplaces that kill 14 Americans every single day – these are just accepted as part of life, the price of freedom, if you will.”
I, for one, prefer socialism to worries about health costs and the risk of terrorism to the dangers of unlimited gun ownership!