Papers, Please!

Robert Neuwirth has some poignant commentary on citylimits.org in which he tells his story of being taken into police custody and deprived of his freedom for 24 hours.  His opening paragraph really sums it up:

I spent 24 hours in the slammer the other day. My crime? Well, the police couldn’t tell me when they locked me up. The prosecutor and judge couldn’t either, when I was arraigned the following day. I found out for myself when I researched the matter a few days after being released: I had been cited for walking my dog off the leash – once, six years ago.

Government asks us to “give them the tools they need” to fight some serious problem, such as terrorism. Reluctantly, with assurances that those tools will not be abused, we grant Government just a bit more of our power.

We give up a couple of the checks and balances that assure our own rights. We hope that the Good Will of Government will prevail and not infringe on those rights.

But time and time again, the story is different. Every “tool” that is granted for a specific purpose, once in the hands of the custodians of the Government monopoly on violence, is turned on anyone who annoys those who believe they hold the power.

Slice by slice, we are willingly giving up the rights that hundreds of thousands of our predecessors have fought and died to wrest away from abusive governments.

Each request seems reasonable – “We need this to keep you safe” but I ask, “Safe from what?”

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