A retweet from an illustration by Steve Kelley (shown here) got me thinking.

Credit for the image goes to cartoonist Steve Kelley

The cartoon reminds me of a quote from Benjamin Franklin that I regurgitate often: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” These words buzz through my mind every time I traverse the TSA line and pat my pockets to make sure I’m not “smuggling” more than 3.4 ounces of liquids onto the airplane.

The writers of the U.S. Constitution argued relentlessly to create a document that would protect our personal freedoms and keep the government from intruding. Now, due to a cacophony of circumstances, Americans are on a gradual (yet slippery) slope of allowing our freedoms to be compromised (sometimes willingly). I know, I know, this is a very libertarian-type stance to take, and I’ve been watching the warning signs for years–don’t charge me with obstruction for standing on this digital soapbox for a moment.

After seeing the above cartoon re-cross my Twitter feed, I clicked a few links and found a paragraph from Director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, Timothy Lynch. In these lines, Lynch poses a question that expresses it best:

“in a free society, the criminal laws are supposed to be clear so that citizens will know what conduct is prohibited … the Supreme Court has created a situation where ordinary Americans cannot be sure if they are invoking their constitutionally-guaranteed rights or whether they are committing a crime. If that is not a travesty for American justice, what is?”(2)

1.Image credit, see here. 

2. See here.