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|The Risk We Run|
by noteworthy at 8:51 am EST, Feb 21, 2011
David K. Shipler:
Digital information is different.
Digital inspections raise constitutional questions about how robust the Fourth Amendment's guarantee "against unreasonable searches and seizures" should be on the border, especially in a time of terrorism. A total of 6,671 travelers, 2,995 of them American citizens, had electronic gear searched from Oct. 1, 2008, through June 2, 2010, just a tiny percentage of arrivals.
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.
The policies ... are truly alarming.
It has a loophole ... If the ACLU's characterization of this [watch] list is anywhere near accurate, the list is a complete joke. It simply is not objectively reasonable to suspect that someone on this list is dangerous.
We're in the business of risk mitigation.
We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it.
The question is, What do we do now, in a world where, in the absence of liberal aristocracies, in the absence of social democratic elites whose authority people accept, you have people who genuinely believe, in the majority, that their interest consists of maximizing self-interest at someone else's expense? The answer is, Either you re-educate them in some form of public conversation or we will move toward what the ancient Greeks understood very well, which is that the closest system to democracy is popular authoritarianism. And that's the risk we run. Not a risk of a sort of ultra-individualism in a disaggregated society but of a kind of de facto authoritarianism.