Here's the text of the flier we discussed at the meeting. Please submit any feedback.
Love & liberty,
<<< starchild >>>
ARE YOU ON CAMERA RIGHT NOW?
[graphic of a camera lens staring at the viewer here]
Is your voice being recorded? Did you have to pass through a "security checkpoint" today where you or your vehicle were subject to a search? Unfortunately there's a good chance that the answer to one or more of these questions is yes.
In San Francisco, every MUNI bus, every BART car, and every taxi cab now have cameras installed. There are dozens of "red light" cameras on city streets, with many more on the way. Ordinary people going into City Hall, courthouses, and other government buildings, are made to submit to searches. Around the holidays, law enforcement agents often set up random “drunken driving checkpoints" where they search peoples' cars, and police officers can easily run a check on your license plate, pull you over for no reason, or make up a reason. Thousands of people on parole are subject to random searches of their homes. Others who have served their sentences are forced to wear electronic monitoring devices 24 hours a day. The San Francisco Public Library wants to put electronic RFID chips in the materials they lend out so they can tell where the books are that you are reading, and they're making it more expensive to travel over the Bay or Golden Gate Bridge unless you buy an electronic card that records your identity.
Meanwhile, under the "PATRIOT" Act and other new enactments, the Feds are empowered to listen to your phone calls, read your email, and look at your medical records without your consent and without a warrant, and indefinitely hold you prisoner in an undisclosed location without trial or due process by declaring you an "enemy combatant." New cars and cellphones are being manufactured with GPS devices that allow the authorities to pinpoint your location when you are using them. It is becoming more and more difficult to travel, including to leave the country, without using government-issued identification. A wall hundreds of miles long is scheduled to be built along the Mexican border. Already, drivers many miles from the border are stopped and their vehicles subject to searches. People of Latino, Middle Eastern, or African American descent, especially young people, are frequently subject to racial profiling, whether in border areas, airports, high crime urban areas, or elsewhere.
Far from resisting this trend, the business sector has been mostly complicit. Many stores and businesses install their own cameras, which often capture passers-by on the street as well as customers. Companies like AT&T have helped the National Security Administration build databases to spy on people while others like the Correctional Corporation of America help government run prisons as part of the system that keeps a higher percentage of people behind bars in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. Firms including Gillette and Wal-Mart are eagerly looking into putting RFID chips in consumer products. Voicemail systems used by large companies typically inform you that "your call may be recorded or monitored." While personal data collected by corporations at least starts out in many different private hands instead of under the control of a powerful central authority that's trying to run your life, governments can easily demand access to this data and footage once it exists. A company called Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) is even making chips designed to be implanted in human beings. Who has ADS targeted as its top customer? The U.S. government.
With the steady advance of this "surveillance society," it is obvious to anyone who's paying attention that we are rapidly losing our freedoms and privacy. The problem is that few people seem to be paying attention. Many have become so conditioned to fear terrorism or ordinary crime that they welcome the security they think submitting to more surveillance will bring them, without thinking about the consequences. The potential consequences, in an era with more and more capable technology, are truly frightening.
"By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under surveillance.”
-George Orwell, "1984"
It's true that authoritarian police states typically have few terrorist incidents and low levels of ordinary assaults, burglaries, vandalism, and similar "street crime." This was as much the case in Orwell's fictional society of 1984 as it has been in the real world. But this "security" did not make most human beings in places like Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China happy, nor did it ultimately make them safer. Millions of people in those societies paid a horrible price for the power accumulated by the governments that ruled over them -- crushing poverty, torture, starvation, even genocide.
Of course the United States has a strong legacy of individual liberty, including a Bill of Rights that prohibits government officials from searching and spying on innocent people, let alone arbitrarily killing them. But that and $1 will buy you a cup of coffee, as the saying goes. These days, politicians of both establishment parties (Republicans and Democrats) offer mere lip service to the Constitution while routinely violating it, and the courts usually let them get away with it. How long can this go on before America bears no resemblance to a free republic based on a democratic process and the rule of law?
"Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."
-Benjamin Franklin [exact proper wording of this quote needed]
Do you deserve to be free? Are you doing anything to win back your freedoms, or protect those you have left? In this supposed "land of the brave," will you be among those who have the courage to stand up for freedom against the growing government control that is slowly enslaving all of us?
The Libertarian Party is part of a movement that is trying to stop a police state from happening here. Our mission is to defend your civil and economic rights and liberties without compromise, and we urgently need your support. Please call or visit our website today. It's not illegal -- yet.
[LPSF name & Statue of Liberty logo here, with local and national phone numbers and websites]