Friday, June 14, 2013

Looking Under My Bed

I woke up in the middle of the night, startled and in a panic, a single thought running through my mind, over and over: had I just ruined my life?
Was I being paranoid or was I now to be on the "watched" list if not the watch list? Was I no longer anonymous, at least to the wrong people?

I had recently done what, over the past half decade has become second nature to me:  submitting a letter to the editor of the New York Times. In it I chose to be critical of the government's blanket intrusion into our lives through surreptitious gathering of our phone records. I used words like "offend" and "disturbing".  I took a swipe at the President, and threw in a negative reference about the last President for good measure.

On my computer, I now read my words in the Times. If the print version mirrors what I am seeing, my thoughts will be the lead in a series of comments on this topic. My critical view of the administration's actions sits next to a drawing of an American eagle, one wing now a clandestine eye. I wonder if I will soon be the target of that eagle's eye.

In recent days there has been many a revelation of government mining the records of those whose "questionable" actions came across their radar screen.  Information on calls of many reporters was studied in the hope, so we were advised, of uncovering the source of leaks on an issue of sensitive national security. IRS agents decided to pay particularly close attention to words like "Tea Party" in analyzing applications for those seeking certain beneficial tax status.

When the second amendment "wing nuts" cried foul over the attempt to pass legislation on a national registry regarding gun purchases, as this would be but a gateway to further government incursions, I silently mocked them for their belligerence and wrong minded fear.

But now the shoe may be on my foot. Am I now to be that scrutinized reporter, that right wing political machine masquerading as a charitable organization, that gun owner who tightly clutches his weapons close to his heart? Am I the next one in line?

Many have recently said they welcome the government into their home, that there is nothing to hide. But what happens if the government actually takes you up on that offer? What does that mean and where does it stop?
Fourth Amendment rights, when they don't appear to be in jeopardy are just an interesting collection of words penned by some people over two centuries ago. But, had I in my attack gone a bridge too far? How am I to know if Uncle Sam will soon be knocking at my door, or peering in through my window if I can't see him or hear him?

Yes, I know that this is all most likely delusional meanderings in the dark hours of the evening. Literally like yesterday's newspaper, tomorrow what I have said will be history and the few who have perused the letters and noticed my name will have moved on to more pressing matters. But what if I am wrong, and someone with the power and the ability gets upset with me? What then?  Am I forever more to be looking under my bed?

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