CNHI News Service

Opinion

December 27, 2012

COLUMN: Public tragedies also victimize civil liberties

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Marta Mossburg's column, you can publish this one if you notify her at marta@martamossburg.com.

After the Newtown, Conn., massacre it seems crude to speak of rights and facts. With the unfulfilled lives of 20 children and six adults mercilessly gunned down foremost in our minds, it is more soothing to talk about safety and stopping the violence and letting those in authority do their jobs.

But this is when those who care about civil liberties have most to fear because those who would strip us of rights know it is easier to regulate and legislate after tragedies. Psychology tells us why: Humans crave coherence and neat solutions even when none are available.

Think of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It gave the government broad new powers to surveil individuals and search their property – with no means to test whether the new regulations would thwart terrorists.

Or think of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 in response to the financial crisis. Its regulations ensure bailouts for the biggest banks, which are larger now than they were before the Great Recession.

As President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

It is in that light that we should view Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance’s comments about “misinformation.”

In a Dec. 16 news conference, Vance said anyone who posts misleading information on social media sites about the Newtown case would be “investigated, statewide and federally, and prosecution will take place when people perpetrating this information are identified.”

He added, “All information relative to this case is coming from these microphones.”

It’s horrible that anyone would consider posing as 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza, try to disrupt the investigation of the murders or cause further heartbreak for the victims’ families.

Text Only
Opinion
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Impeachment arms Democrats, doesn't end the Obama disaster

    Republicans may have grounds to impeach President Barack Obama but they would be daft to pursue a case they cannot win in a Senate controlled by Democrats. Impeachment would only drive the Democrats' fundraising and potentially squander the GOP's best opportunity in years to capture both houses of Congress then, in two years, the White House.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Zamperini, the Olympian and POW, was a hero because of his faith

    Louis Zamperini collected many accolades as an Olympic distance runner and brave bombardier who spent a month adrift at sea and two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But faith and forgiveness are what truly distinguished him.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hobby Lobby critics push specious privacy pitch

    The violation of privacy argument by liberal detractors of the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby-Obamacare case doesn't hold water when you consider the current collection and use of the personal details of your medical preferences.

    July 11, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Declare your independence from empty slogans

    'Independence Day' is now an ironic celebration in a country where the president promotes government dependence over actual freedom, and where bumper-sticker slogans have replaced actual, independent thought.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Taxi owners, government patrons try forcing Uber to go 'off-duty'

    Uber gives urban passengers an enticing alternative. Rides on-demand arrive faster than taxis, are cheaper and cleaner, and get rated by customers. Rather than hail innovation, government enablers are helping the heavily regulated taxicab industry freeze out the upstart.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama: Don't listen to those who knew Bergdahl best

    The Obama administration chides anyone who suggests that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl - the POW traded for a dream team of Taliban terrorists - might be something less than a hero. The White House wants us to stop jumping to conclusions - unless, of course, we're jumping to the right conclusions.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Left tallies 'true cost' of coal with a political calculator

    Weighing the "true cost" of coal-based energy is politically convenient. In a "true cost" world, coal may be more expensive but alternate energies aren't affordable, either; you don't get a tax break on your mortgage; and the feds don't protect the United Auto Workers from Chrysler's bankruptcy.

    June 6, 2014 1 Photo

News
Sports

Features