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January 18, 2006 - Northwest Herald (IL)

Without Our Freedoms, Nothing Is Left To Lose

By Eric Olson

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Sometimes I think it's a shame there aren't more libertarians around.

Whether or not you agree with them all the time, libertarians are the ones with the sense to question why the government has a right to make you do something.

Take Ken Prazak, who embarked on a long and quixotic crusade against the state's law on seat-belt compliance.

It seemed obvious that Prazak would lose his 2 1/2-year quest to have a jury disregard the law that resulted in him receiving a $25 ticket in Algonquin.

But he had the conviction to pursue it to the bitter end. Most people don't have this kind of conviction because it tends to result in the criminal kind of conviction.

Which Prazak got, resulting in a $25 fine and 100 days of court supervision.

But we need folks like Prazak to make us question exactly what's going on.

Because government doesn't need to keep track of what we buy at the drugstore or who we're talking to on the phone, unless we are suspected of committing a crime.

It really should be that simple, at least if you believe in the Fourth Amendment, the one that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Every time there's a new technology or some new threat, the debate resurfaces.

There's been a terrorist attack, so we need to monitor who checks out certain books from the library. And eavesdrop on international phone calls.

Lots of people are using cough syrup to make methamphetamine. So you have to sign a registry every time you buy over-the-counter medicine so we can check up on you.

Both of these great measures are supposed to make me feel safer. But they do just the opposite. They tell me that law enforcement has become lazy and would prefer to circumvent the Constitution rather than investigate crimes. That's supposed to be against the rules.

So here's a better idea: Have police and other investigators get out on the street and do their job within the limits of the law.

Terrorists menacing America? People making methamphetamine in their basement? Find them. Then listen to what they're talking about or check on what they're buying.

The freedoms and protections that the Bill of Rights gives every American should not be casualties of the "War on Terrorism" or the "War on Drugs."

And just because I'm not doing anything wrong doesn't mean I shouldn't be worried.

Because when our leaders use that line of reasoning, our government is doing something wrong.

And we should all be worried.

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