The recent lone wolf terrorist attack in Australia reminded me of a basic principle of democracy. The perpetrator was well known for having extremist views and for supporting the objectives, if not the methodologies, of terrorist groups such as ISIS both on the internet and on the streets of Sidney. He also had a reputation for turning his views into action. He was convicted of sending harassing letters to the parents of Australian service personal serving in Afghanistan. He also seemed to have a pattern of violence. He was a suspect in the murder of his wife and was accused of the sexual molestation of a girl who went for him for spiritual guidance. So Australian authorities have been asked repeatedly, why was this man free instead of behind bars where he belonged.
The answer the Australian officials gave was quite simple, Australia like the US, is a free and open country, and while this potential terrorist was free on bail, he simply had not done anything that warranted putting him back in jail before the hostage taking. Like the US, Australia has no laws against professing radical ideas. In the Australia, like the US, the rest of us pay a price for being free; our lives are not quite as safe as they could be if we agreed to live under a more totalitarian government.
Here in the United States our founding fathers made the decision fight to be free at any cost, but there are many among us now who argue that we should be safe at any cost. These are mutually incompatible philosophies. Those who value safety over freedom would suspend some of our precious rights for which so many died in order to provide a bit more safety for the general population.
These are the kind of people who imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent in camps during World War II. They would keep Ebola fighters isolated from the rest of us though there is no evidence to support that as a medical necessity. They find ways to prevent police officers accused of excessive force from being indicted. They would love to find ways to put away radical Muslims, Communists, Nazis, skinheads and other anti government trolls from taking advantage of their rights to free speech to spread their messages of hate. They ask only that we give up some of our precious rights to enjoy to some additional measure of safety.
I find it interesting that those who are most willing to send young men to fight and die for us in foreign lands are also usually the most willing to give up our collective rights to secure additional safety for them selves. If there is a better definition of cowardice I have not come across it.
Our forefathers risked their property, their wealth and even their lives to secure the rights which we enjoy in our country today. The least we can do is have enough courage enough to secure them for our selves and for and future generations.