Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Evil of Prior Restraint

The Evil of Prior Restraint

Tibor R. Machan

NSA’s excuse for snooping on innocent citizens -- namely, that it can prevent serious harm to us, might even save lives -- is spurious.  If you incarcerated us all, that, too, might do all that.

Free men and women are, of course, capable of violence, even murder, but unless it is proven that they are embarking on these, unless the burden of proof is fully met, they must be left free. The job of protecting the citizenry must be carried out without violating their rights.  That is the spirit behind constitutional government, especially the American Bill of Rights. 

If and when one signs up to work in the security professions, one must adhere to strict standards and do one's job without violating them.  One must cope with the limits and not run rampant unrestrained.  (It is a bit like medical research and experimentation--it is all very important but doesn’t justify ignoring the basic rights of patients or subjects!)

That our government officials fail to grasp all this is truly a disaster.  When they refuse to act within the limits posed by our individual rights, they are a far greater danger than terrorism!  Indeed, they become like terrorists, making use of arbitrary means to reach their goals!  Nothing excuses it! 

The oath of office of all security professionals includes a commitment to act without doing violence of the rights of the citizenry, including to their right to privacy and due process.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Thank you Scientsts & Technologists

Thank you Scientists and Technologists

Tibor R. Machan

There is so much that scientists have discovered that makes our lives rich and rewarding that it may seem pointless to call attention to it all.  But I am very fond of the saying, “Notice the good and praise it,” over and over again.

Of course, what science and technology bring forth can be of immense significance, in medicine, transportation, agriculture and so forth.  But there are the trivial pursuits that are enhanced by it as well.  For me the delete button on my Mac, the mute button on my TV, the screening I can do on my phone now as well as many other minor benefits make a lot of difference.

For example, as an avid tennis fan, I watch most of the major tournaments, such as the French Open, the US Open, Wimbledon, etc.  But I detest it when audiences make pointless noise.  Certain players have fans who insist on creating intolerable noise.  In some cases they even bring noise producing instruments with which to make that racket.

Less annoying but still nice to avoid is when players, mostly the women, scream as they hit the ball or during their serves. Or when some commentators insist on yakking on endlessly, with their idiosyncratic observations and memories of previous tennis events in which I have no interest at all.  I am very grateful to whoever invented the muting device and subtitles. 

I used to own a P-1800 Volvo sedan.  I had it for over twenty years.  I  liked it a lot and now and then I would express my thanks to the engineers who designed it.  These days I do something similar to my computer, my stereo system, TV and so forth.  

So let this be a short tip of the hat to all those folks who work on ways to make life better for us all.