I was thinking about the squawking over hate crimes legislation in the United States, and how the right wingnuts are crying that it's an unreasonable infringement on their rights to spew forth vengeful, spiteful ignorance and promote marginalization and discrimination against GLBT citizens.
Meanwhile, these same people applaud laws that allow for detention without charge, kangaroo court trials and the like if you're one of those swarthy, dark skinned types that happen to worship Allah instead of Christ.
(Of course, they conveniently don't call people like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh or Theodore Kaczynski terrorists - no, they are dubbed "insane", "deluded" or possibly "bomber", but only rarely does someone attach the word terrorist to their acts.)
Instead, they capture and imprison people like Omar Khadr for the simple crime of being in a war zone, and charge him (after multiple years of detention without charge) with being an "illegal combatant". (Or, if you are Vic Toews, you want to throw people in prison for simply being accused of a crime - especially if you ever were caught before...)
When it comes to giving the government unrestrained powers of detention, arrest and surveillance, these people dredge up some bogeyman and tell us that if we don't comply with their demands, that some vast evil is going to happen to us. They tell us that they need to suspend basic rights, such as habeas corpus, or that the government has to be able to monitor our telecommunications, just to make sure we aren't being seditious.
Meanwhile, ask them to treat fellow, law-abiding citizens with respect and dignity, and they howl that their precious "freedom of religion" is being stepped on. I won't go into the theological contortions that their arguments rest upon here - suffice it to say that I think the arguments themselves are fundamentally based upon false premises.
But, we must ask what is the greater infringement and danger to the body of society. Is it truly that unreasonable to ask those of a faith community to keep their beliefs within that community? Must they foist them upon the rest of society whether we subscribe to them or not?
Or, perhaps the greater harm is done when we allow our politicians to break the very social contracts that formed the foundation of what is now called Western Democracy? Is there ever a valid reason to turn over to the government the unfettered right not only to monitor and oversee our lives, but to detain innocent people based solely upon their name, or some unprovable "suspicion" that they may act in malice towards others?
I argue that the latter is far more dangerous to our collective freedoms. Not only have we turned over to the government the right to detain citizens without trial, but without charge too. We have handed the government the right to invade our lives by monitoring our communications. I do not argue against law and order, but rather I argue that law and order must exist to ameliorate the lot of all citizens, not to restrict it at the whim of some politician who fears that we may figure out how inept they really are.
While complaining about laws which protect an otherwise law abiding part of the population from the predations of those who turn to the language of hatred and discrimination (the same legal foundations that protect others on the basis of race, gender or religion), the Neo/Theo-Con crowd turns about and accepts a degree of government invasion into every citizen's lives (including their own) that would make George Orwell shudder.