Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Dissecting Ben Franklin

Where is the trade-off between security and liberty?

Dissecting Ben Franklin

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Here's a famous Ben Franklin quote:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Here's a CNN report:

 "A new CNN/Time/ORC International Poll indicates four in 10 Americans say they are willing to give up some civil liberties to fight terrorism, and suggests worries about terrorism have edged up after the Boston Marathon bombings.

In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, are you willing to consider giving up some civil liberties in order to combat terrorism?

"The national survey shows that concerns about terrorism are up slightly, with 40% saying they worry that someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism, up 6 percentage points from a 2011 CNN poll conducted on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"The survey also indicates that support for government monitoring of the Internet is down 8 points from right after 9/11, although there is still majority support: 55%. However, there is widespread and growing approval of the use of surveillance cameras in public places, with 81% saying they are in favor of it, nearly a 20 point jump from 2001.

"The poll, conducted April 30, 2013, has a sampling error of +/-4 percentage points."

I'm surprised it's only 40 percent who favor tighter security, giving up some liberties. Without knowing what is meant by that, it's vague, but we have given up some "liberty" already. Think airports. That affects us all. Think the Patriot Act. Doesn't affect me much.

Notice that Ben Franklin said "essential liberty." There's devil in the details. What is "essential?" We can argue that. I am willing to be, let's say inconveninced, to keep some a--hole from blowing up Americans.

Remember, too, we are at war. It may not feel like that (until a beautiful spring day in Boston), but while we be asleep, our enemies are not.

Stu Bykofsky Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Stu Bykofsky has been a columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News since 1987. Prior to the column, his assignments included theater critic, TV critic, copy editor, general assignment features reporter. He supports civil-rights and animal causes, he opposes political correctness, bicycles on the sidewalk and most other forms of selfishness and stupidity.
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Reach Stu at stubyko@phillynews.com.

Stu Bykofsky Daily News Columnist
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