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Libertarians, After a Calculated Silence, Peek Out from Under the Rock

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The title of this post suggests more antagonism toward libertarianism than I feel or it deserves.  I do think, though, that libertarians need to ask themselves some questions in light of the Boston Marathon bombing and the capture of the surviving suspect.

The authorities caught him because of the widespread use of surveillance cameras, cell phone tracking, a massive police presence, and thermal imaging of private property.  Every one of those things has been harshly criticized by libertarians as choking off freedom and paving the way to Big Brother Government.

These concerns are not without merit.  There are a number of areas where libertarians are sounding a worthy alarm.  The proliferation of strict liability (generally regulatory) crimes and the infiltration into prosecutorial decisions of the blob-like urge-to-control should worry all of us.

But allowing little children to be blown apart in the street is too high a price to pay for what seems often to be more attitude than sobriety in looking at what we face.  We did not ask for this war.  It was thrust upon us.  If we are to win, we need to learn some lessons about how the fight must be waged.

In Reason Magazine, a libertarian publication, the authors agree that we need to learn something, but their syllabus for the course is considerably different from mine. And one suspects there's a reason they laid low until more than a week after the bombing.

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I think it possible to have robust civil liberties and an effective response to terror. As someone with very strong libertarian leanings, the issue, I think, for most libertarians is that government simply cannot be trusted, actually, more accurately, people in government cannot be trusted. I think the recent brouhahas over civilians filming police officers in action is an example of how authoritarianism in our country is growing. Maybe it's understandable that a policeman, annoyed by a cellphone camera, will arrest the "perp." But what does it say of prosecutors when, after reflection, decide to bring down the hammer on someone for supposedly invading the privacy of the police officer who is in public? There is no other word to describe such action, other than tyranny. And yes, I am choosing that word.

I don't profess to know all the answers, but I do know that government abuses of power seem to be growing in America, and it's something that I, as a freedom loving citizen, fear.

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