Click me for an article from the Guardian. It details the arrest of a suspicious person by police officers guarding the London Underground. The synopsis: a guy takes out his cellphone in the tube. He gets arrested and his house gets searched. Now, my initial reaction is simple awe. The story is a startling glimpse into the after-effects of the British Terrorism Act. It forces me to consider what passes as normal and abnormal behavior in the panicked atmosphere of our modern world.
And of course, my instincts are to shout about Civil Liberties. But then I realize: This is The Price of Safety. And it’s a fair price. Sure, the guy gets arrested for 24 hours, and detained, and his house searched. But if this is happening to everyone on the tube who acts suspiciously, then wouldn't another bombing be ... at least more difficult? If his behavior matched the behavior of the London bombers, then he is suspicious. And, you know what? In the end, the searches validate his innocence. If he had been carrying a pouch full of plastique, we'd be celebrating the heroes of the London Underground, and their unwavering attention to detail. Instead, the article presses us to shriek about our potential police state.
You know what I say? Good job, MPs. And people of earth: Get Used to It.
Imagine that the next bombing was radioactive - would you give up a scheduled day of your life to potentially save the lives of millions of people?. Because that's what we're talking about. We're talking about whining about being handcuffed vs. doing nothing until it's too late, and everyone is injured or dead.
I carry around a big backpack. It's filled with gadgets. I carry a camera, take notes, and travel alone. I'm the perfect target for "heightened security measures." And you know what I say? Arrest me. And hopefully arrest a few others like me. I have nothing to hide, but maybe one of them might be planning to blow himself up on a train. I'm not so self-absorbed to think that my privacy is more important than people's lives. It's absolutely not.
And before you go quoting "they that give up their essential liberty for safety deserves neither," I'd point out that our founding fathers hadn't split the atom, and warfare was still a relatively chivalrous affair. When our enemies refuse to wear uniforms and threaten the sanctuaries of our civilian lives, it forces us all to reconsider the freedoms that we take for granted. I'd spend a week in a cell if it meant that the police were more likely to catch a person bent on destroying the lives of those I love. Hell, I'd take a year in jail over a downtown suitcase nuke. Because that's how much I care for the people around me, and it's the freedom I would sacrifice in order to provide a greater safety to my fellow man.
Stop whining about your handcuffs. Live your life, and make your sacrifices. To Benjamin Franklin, I would reply: Ask not what Your Country can do for you, but what you can do for Your Country.