Slippery Slope

I

am not fond of the current administration, as many of you probably already know. I don’t think that the president, as a person, is a bad man. Quite the contrary, he seems very likeable. The operative word is “seems”. He manifests a penchant for keeping his close friends close and everyone else at arms length. This suggests that he is either unable or unwilling to either share his thoughts or listen to the opinions of others, or both. Which would explain why his approval rating have fallen below 30% in some polls. He continues on his crusade single-mindedly focused what he believes is right. And rightly or wrongly, he seems convinced that what is right for him is right for everyone else as well.

This is a scary attitude.

Take the most recent revelations of the NSA gathering our private phone records. I believe this is wrong. Certainly, catching terrorists should have a high priority, but not at the expense of one of our civil liberties, the right of privacy.

But that is not the scary part. I fear that justifying one privacy right will lead to other justifications. This is far too slippery a slope to be climbing. If the government can collect our phone numbers, the numbers to which we called and how long we were on the phone, what is to stop them from next collecting our credit card numbers and the vendors with which we transacted? The collection of phone calls is only to match phone numbers with other phone numbers to look for patterns; there is no eaves dropping, no investigation of the content of the calls. But if a terrorist can purchase plane tickets, chemicals, or weapons with a credit card, then would not the NSA be justified in collecting credit card numbers to look for more patterns? No content information, of course, nothing about what was purchased or how much; just the credit card number and the vendors, in an attempt to find a pattern of transactions for certain chemicals, or airline ticket purchases to certain countries. Would the public feel okay about the government compiling a database that might include your transactions with Amazon.com or Frederick’s of Hollywood or Guns ‘R’ Us; or donations to certain religious or political groups?

I fear that justifying one invasion of privacy makes it easier to justify the next one. But our president doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with it, because he is singlemindedly focused on the “war on terror,” the single phrase they throw at us to;keep us at bay.

Okay, break time over. Back to grading….

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