By David Slavin
As I sit here writing, we the people have lost one more freedom. Occupy Oakland has been shut down by authorities citing public safety issues, and a New York court has judged that public safety supersedes the first amendment rights of the protesters. How have we gotten to this point; the point where a right, so fundamental as to be mentioned first in the Bill of Rights, is set aside to satisfy some ephemeral concept such as public safety? Maybe I missed that day in civics class, but where is this public safety restriction mentioned in the Bill of Rights, and what other rights are subject to this restriction? Perhaps trial by jury or due process? How about freedom of religion, or maybe we should suspend the right to vote, because people might elect the wrong guy?
Sadly, this is not the first time in recent history that pub- lic safety has been a reason for abridging the enumerated rights of the people. Every day, people are unreasonably and intrusively searched at airports around the country. Police offi- cers use this excuse to justify so- briety and seatbelt roadblocks. Crumbling cities around the country, like Detroit or Youngstown, contemplate forc- ing people from their homes in the name of public safety. As I sit here today writing, my soul cries. It cries for the death of this fundamental right. It cries for the inevitable loss of the others. It cries because I know the eventual endgame. That all of our rights will be subject to the whim of capricious bureaucrats, who will throw around terms like public safety, national security, and terrorism to consolidate their power. And so begins the death of our democracy. A death by inches.