Give Me Liberty…

…Or give me death.

Immortal words from a speech given by Patrick Henry (published after his death).

Interestingly, there are many people today who choose something other than liberty and they make no bones about it. Jules Witcover, writing in the Baltimore Sun, has produced a piece in which he describes the enhanced security procedures of the TSA as a sacrifice for the security of our nation. Witcover equates this sacrifice to the sacrifices made by the people who fought or supported WW II and to a lesser extent Vietnam.

Witcover describes sacrifices made by people during those tumultuous periods of our history and then goes on to say that those who are squeamish about making sacrifices now can stay home on Thanksgiving and watch football (not a bad idea regardless).

But what Witcover fails to see is the distinction between personal sacrifice as in doing without or collecting for the war effort and the sacrifice of liberty.

During WW II Americans did without quite a bit in order to support the war effort. Food was rationed and people collected rubber and scrap metal to help the war effort. Americans bought savings bonds to support the effort. These are all admirable things and none of them involved sacrificing LIBERTY.

The enhanced screening done by the TSA is an invasion of privacy and an affront to our rights. We have a right to travel by air (as codified in the United States Code) and we have a right not to be searched without probable cause. The Fourth Amendment to our Constitution protects us against such invasions.

Witcover thinks that we should ignore our rights and acquiesce to the government because, to him, it is no big deal to have this disregard of our rights in the name of security. It is, as he points out, a sacrifice that we should make.

Americans are not dismissing the need for security at our airports though one could argue that the procedures in place are hit and miss and that anyone with ill intent could easily breach security. The issue with the enhanced procedures, as I see it, is not about security but about control (the process is a great example of the Overton Window). There are other non intrusive methods available that have proven more effective. The Israelis use a method of profiling that screens passengers and weeds them out to those who pose no threat and those who might. Those who might are given a more thorough look while those who are not are sent on their way.

The Israelis have not had problems with terrorists getting on their planes.

My message to Mr. Witcover and others who think like him is that we should never, ever give up our liberty in the name of security. We are not the enemy and we are not the threat. Those who are can be better identified and dealt with without subjecting the rest of us to intrusive searches.

We are Americans and we have rights and we should never abandon those rights in the name of security.

As Ben Franklin stated; “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Those, like Witcover, who would give up their liberty in order to have the temporary security on an airplane deserve neither liberty or security.

What do you say we actually work on targeting those who would do us harm and leave the non invasive screening for those who value their liberty?

Mr. Witcover, it is admirable to sacrifice during times of trouble and past generations have shown what sacrifice is but they did so without sacrificing their liberty. While one could argue that this generation is sacrificing little in the way of supporting the war effort, that should not be an excuse to demand that people sacrifice their liberty.

America is the land of the free because it is the home of the brave and that includes the brave people who stand up to tyranny from their own government. It includes those who refuse to allow their rights to be violated in the name of security.

I wonder where Mr. Witcover would stand if the government decided, in the name of security, that all articles from journalists had to got through the government to be censored. Jules, would you be willing to sacrifice in that instance or do you only value some rights?

The entire text attributed to Patrick Henry is as follows:

“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Substitute the word security for peace in the quote and you will have my answer to Mr. Witcover’s request for sacrifice.

I don’t plan on dying anytime soon and I certainly don’t plan on giving up my liberty.

Remember, the only way you can lose your rights is to give them away.

And if that is the kind of sacrifice you want then you can count me out…

You can contact Mr. Witcover at

Cave Canem!
Never surrender, never submit.
Big Dog


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2 Responses to “Give Me Liberty…”

  1. Liberty Card says:

    I am in favor of flight safety, but what the TSA is doing clearly violates the 4th Amendment. No federal thug would be permitted to search my kid. I would demand that they charge me with child abuse and prove that I had but a bomb on my kid.

    That said, the ‘problem’ could be solved by ending on-line, and third party ticket sales. Making people buy their tickets in person would give a screener an opportunity to profile terrorists as the ICE worker did in Port Angeles, WA and as do the Isralies.

    There could also be a trusted flier program for frequent/business flyers.

    What’s going on now is totalitarian.

  2. Blake says:

    There is flight safety, but NOTHING the TSA has done has ensured that- as BD says, it is all about control, and it alarms me that so many would give up so much in terms of Liberty and freedom, just to obtain an ILLUSION of security- because it is that, and (to quote Poe) Nothing More.