In 1759, Benjamin Franklin believed that those who looked to obtain temporary safety at the expense of essential liberty were not worthy of neither liberty nor safety. Franklin’s perspective is that freedom and liberty are more important than temporary safety.
ResponseBenjamin Franklin correctly portrays the idea that freedom is more important than temporary safety because privacy is an essential liberty that Americans have. The Fourth Amendment to the United States surrounds the idea that there are to be no unreasonable searches or seizures without a warrant, and though we may not be dealing with seizures nowadays, we are still dealing with unwarranted searches. One example of this is the government being able to go through anyone’s texts or calls at any given time. A 2013 article explained government phone spying saying, “virtually anyone with a Facebook or Gmail account could potentially have their private info read by the NSA.” (Adam Weinstein, Abc News). Weinstein essentially says that nothing on the internet is completely hidden from the government, which is contrary to what America promises in the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, anyone giving up these liberties in order to obtain more surveillance isn’t taking advantage of their powerful right as an American. Having the ability to keep your information private is a necessary part of being a U.S. citizen and is more important than the government watching one’s every move with some temporary safety. A common view is that temporary safety is necessary for the well-being of our society, and this makes sense because invasions of privacy such as security cameras and cell phone searches have the ability to catch criminals or terrorists. An example of this happened in 2014 when a man pulled over for a traffic violation ended up having his phone searched. After discovering that the man was connected to a previous shooting, he was arrested. In this case, “Police seized and searched Riley’s smartphone without a warrant, uncovering further evidence of gang ties (Harvard Law Review, Riley vs. California). The discovery that related Riley to a dangerous gang did help keep another dangerous person off the streets and can easily be used to support government surveillance. However, it is more complicated than that. The government invading people's’ privacy without consent contrasts what it means to have total freedom and what it means to be an independent American. The American people have earned the right to liberty and privacy, and giving up imperative liberties to gain something temporary does not agree with what our country represents. Not only does is violate our morals as Americans, but the privacy invasions do not seem to have made an intense impact. An article on NSA’s surveillance cameras highlights, “the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal” (Sternman, International Security). Sternman proves that the temporary safety we are ditching our American rights for is not overly effective and in no way overpowers the liberty and privacy citizens have always known. Those who are willing to give up America’s well deserved rights of freedom in order to have limited protection are not taking advantage of what it means to be a U.S. citizen, and need to be reminded of what that truly means.