Shedding rights one at a time

What with all the hullabaloo about SOPA, it’s not surprising the majority of the American public has gracelessly overlooked another controversial piece of legislation. President Barack Obama signed it into law on New Year’s Eve, quietly slipping it under America’s nose while they were busy celebrating. Not that it’s his fault. Politics is a complex and dangerous game in which the president plays only a part and is oftentimes a pawn for the interests of lobbyists, financial groups and members of congress themselves. Nonetheless, this bill is law, which is both terrifying and enraging at the same time.

The National Defense Authorization Act, henceforth known as the NDAA, effectively makes it legal to lock up an American citizen indefinitely without trial, as long as they’re suspected of terrorism. Translation? The government can lock up anyone they want for as long as they very well please as long as they claim this person is a potential terrorist.

Okay. So for most people, it’s not really a concern. And some people think this bill is great! This means they can lock up all those awful terrorists without those pesky things like fair trial and due process! Great! That’s what the bill was intended for.

Which is probably false.

The bill was first proposed seriously in the wake of the Occupy movement, which turned an unpleasant light on the way corporations influence politics. No doubt the governments and their respective corporate sponsors and lobbyists didn’t exactly like that, and so here was a solution; the opponents to the movement called them everything but terrorists, and so the police force, ‘protecting’ us from a ‘terrorist’ threat, could arrest mass amounts of people without having to let them go.

Thus, they quell the dissenting opinion, which makes us no better than North Korea when it comes to censorship and the killing of ideas.

This law has had minimal coverage in America itself, and yet it ran as the top international news story in dozens of other countries, like Britain and France. Not surprising considering the fact that the country known for civil liberty has suddenly converted to abject totalitarianism.

The problem is that this could single-handedly destroy civil freedom in America if put into the wrong hands. The corruption of government is nothing new, and yet major violations like these are allowed, and even supported, if they are in the name of ‘safety’. Will the laws catch some criminals? Oh, sure. That’s entirely possible. But is it worth it to sacrifice our civil liberties for the feeling of being just a tiny bit safer?