Swickard: Trading Liberty for Safety

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin 
The problems in Boston this last week have brought up other problems that arose from dealing with the attack upon the Boston Marathon and the subsequent capture of an alleged terrorist. Constitutional Rights were not in effect for citizens of the area because there was an emergency.
It has been said there was not enough time for the proper judicial authority so it was skipped. We are a nation of laws so when the government does not abide by laws I become concerned. Perhaps this was an unfortunate instance when the problems of law-breakers required our nation of laws to not be a nation of laws. What concerns me is not this time, which is gone, it is the next time.It is ever so easy the first time to find a reason to not abide by our Constitution and to not give American Citizens their rights since this was an emergency.
What about the next time and the time after that? Have we forfeited all of our Constitutional Rights because of an attack upon our nation? I would hope not. More so, if we have to lean one way or the other, which way should we lean: toward a tyranny of the government where citizens are forced at gunpoint to obey the authorities or liberty that requires the authorities to abide by the laws of private property search?
Me, I am for the government never having a time when we trade our Constitutional Rights for safety. So what I would like is two-fold: first, an understanding why proper channels were not used in Boston to detain an entire town and to search house by house. But that is something that happened so perhaps it is water under the bridge. More important, can our government just shut down towns without judicial review? Likewise, can the authorities shut down a state or even the entire nation without judicial review? 
Could there be a day when every American is confined to home without paperwork? Could we find a day when every home in American is searched without judicial review? Could the newspapers be shuttered and the Internet cut off? Could the cable networks be stopped and there be no one to write about it? 
Perhaps we should be talking about this in Congress and our state Legislatures. If we do not talk now, we may not ever. Will you trade safety for your liberty? Read Column