You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide: Security vs. Freedom

by Oletta Branstiter

Big Brother is watching, and apparently, we’re okay with it.

Steve Stevens’ Facebook video promoting his own act of murder went viral on Easter Sunday. Virtually everyone who has access to mass media knew his face. A craving for a chicken nuggets meal did him in when a McDonald’s employee recognized him and called the police. His resulting suicide was not broadcast to the public, but odds are, it was picked up by a security camera mounted nearby.

Former and current TV shows like Person of Interest, APB, and Hunted demonstrate the folly of criminals and citizens who attempt to evade the authorities. Virtual eyes are everywhere. Recently, a security camera video posted on Facebook showed a young man apparently armed with nothing but a knife, holding more than a dozen unarmed English Bobbies at bay. Britain has decided that a video camera on every corner is safer than armed police officers. This particular camera records the lengthy humiliating encounter.

The new Ring doorbell has become a security wonder, recording the close-up comings and goings of everyone who dares to approach your front door. But it records the owners’ entry and exit as well, complete with a time-stamp.

Tom Hanks and Emma Watson star in a new movie called The Circle, which depicts ubiquitous surveillance as beneficial…until it isn’t. Similar to the plots of Minority Report and 1984,  Brave New World portrayed the inherent dangers of pervasive “security”, even when the population desires it. The tragic ending proposes the question: Once we trade our liberty for security, could we ever get it back? Would we want to?

The prescient mid-20th century cautionary tales by Orwell and Huxley suggest that being forewarned falls short of forging the necessary precautions. Modern society has gladly accepted the secular fallacy that death is the worst thing that can happen to you.

Yet, even the family of Robert Godwin, Sr., murdered in cold blood by a self-centered monster, realized that harboring anger, unforgiveness or vengeance toward their patriarch’s killer would make his death more tragic.

Liberty is fraught with risk. Thomas Jefferson said, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” John Adams warned us that, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

Were Huxley and Adams right? Once we surrender the unalienable right to Liberty, as we have done with the right to Life, since Roe vs Wade, are we doomed to evolve into hedonistic slaves?

What if the worst thing that can happen to you is a long, safe life that denies you the right to be free?

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