A little while ago, some suspected terrorist was picked up in Rhode Island, my stomping grounds, for going to truck driving school. He was acting suitably strange. He was belligerent and didn't want to bother learning to drive in reverse. Suspicious? Nooooooooo.
After reading above the fold, the very first thought to pop into my head was a fear that he was not a terrorist, and that he just was acting weird, and that because of that, his life was now ruined. It wasn't a fear that the terrorists are at the doorstep. No. I was afraid that this guy who could very well want to kill me, was innocent.
This was a great moment for me because it confirmed that that which I fear cognitively is the same thing that I fear emotionally; the loss of freedom. I fear the oppression of our government and the fact that just because someone is acting strangely, a human right, the fear of others can prevent them from doing so.
I think about this with every court case, and every episode of Law & Order. In many ways, I feel that Law & Order gives people a very distorted vision of the world. On TV, the bad guy is ALWAYS the bad guy. The fact that when people get off, they may not be the bad guy, is lost in the show. I would let a thousand truly guilty people go if it meant keeping one truly innocent person out of shackles.
Benjamin Franklin's quote about those who trade freedom for safety deserving neither carries weight, today. It carries weight with me personally. I am not now, nor have I ever been, afraid of terrorists enough to change my daily behavior. On the other hand, I think about my freedom every day. I revel in its presence and fear its elimination. I fear it for myself and for other people, and my heart goes out to those wrongfully jailed. And now I know that is truly how I feel. Which feels great.