Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

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Spying: An attack on our freedom

Blake Ringsmuth - January 26th, 2006
Regardless of our political affiliation, we should all be deeply concerned about the President spying on United States citizens without a warrant. Simply put, it is illegal for the President to spy on us without obtaining a warrant from a judge. 
Do not be misled. There is no compromise in our nation’s security by obeying the Constitution, as a warrant can be obtained in secret and even after the fact. The notion that any President has forsaken the very foundation of our country’s system of government whereby one branch (judicial) “checks” another branch (executive) from overreaching is an alarming fact. It is a modern day tyranny that must rouse our uniquely American sense of democracy and rekindle the historical embers from which our Declaration of Independence and Constitution arose. It is patriotic to stand against a government that violates its citizens’ rights. Indeed, it is our heritage and obligation, a tenet of our country’s greatness. 
To ignore “Big Brother’s” spying is to repeat our mistakes (e.g. internment of the Japanese) and allow the insidious degradation of our fundamental liberty. For if we are complacent, and anesthetize ourselves with the un-American mantra “I don’t care, I have nothing to hide,” we have just sold our democratic heritage, and those who gave their lives for it, out. We will have turned our back until these rights are a historical footnote, a quaint luxury of the past when there was no omnipresent “terrorist threat.”  

How we protect our civil liberties during a time of crisis is how our nation is, and should be, judged. If they mean anything, we must not cut and run from them when their real value is put to the test. 
Thomas Jefferson said, “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.” Now is not the time for timidity. These rights have earned more than lip service.
It is our freedom, constitutionally protected, that we point to when justifying our attempts to spread democracy, not our economy or standard of living. Is this freedom not the very concept we are trying to bring to those in Iraq at the expense of countless lives?
Freedom is indeed not free.  The cost of it might be less “efficiency,” and the guilty may occasionally go free, but we know we have the right to think and say what we believe, regardless of governmental eavesdropping, unlike North Korea. The right to be free from government spying is about as “American” as it gets. If we do not raise our collective voices in opposition, we have acquiesced, and should not be surprised to watch our liberties continually erode. 
As we learn more about the President’s spying in the upcoming hearings, we must be prepared to ask tough questions of him and ourselves. Is fear sufficient justification for taking our liberty? It takes courage to stand in the face of fear. Our nation can proudly make that stand for the whole world to see, and give discomfort to our enemies. 

Blake Ringsmuth is a Traverse City attorney.
 
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