Friday, January 22, 2010
“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin
Like other reporters in the Austin-area, the Infowars team was immediately sent to the Texas Capitol building on news that a man, identified as Fausto Cardenas, had started shooting for no apparent reason.
There wasn’t much else to discover once we got there. The suspect had apparently harmed no one and State Troopers were quietly combing over the South steps with their investigation. Apart from reports about an angry visit to State Senator Dan Patrick’s office, there was no indication of a possible motive for the bizarre incident. Spokeswoman Tela Mange was polite but offered very little info.
I had catalogued all the activity going on behind the roped-off area and wandered around the other side of the Capitol to film another grouping of troopers who were combing the grounds with a (presumably bomb-sniffing) dog. When a trooper noticed me filming their quiet investigation, everything suddenly changed.
Though the building itself was closed, the Capitol grounds remained open, and people were milling about freely. Only the area immediately surrounding the South steps was restricted by yellow tape. This was not that area.
Yet this officer approached me sternly, pointing his finger and commanding that I ‘point the camera somewhere else’ and provide ID. I refused.
For those who have forgotten, in the haze of post-9/11 paranoia, America is not a ‘papers please’ dictatorship or a corrupt banana republic, even if certain forces are attempting to drag us in that direction.
Outside the Capitol, ostensibly a monument to free society, there was no reason to impose ’security’ in the face of natural public order. There was no panicked atmosphere; the shooting was clearly over. Media personnel, news cameras and other spectators were waiting around calmly.
So why did this officer feel the need to rush up and demand I justify myself? Were I suspected of a crime as benign as speeding such action might have been warranted, but I had literally done nothing but look in the wrong direction and catch the eye of the wrong person.
His name is known, but not important in this instance. He ceased being an officer, abandoning due process for arbitrary power. That is against the law– the spirit of the law– and thus I felt compelled not to go along with it. He asked if I had ID and I told him truthfully that I did, but did not feel I should give it.
He told me not to move as he called over his superior officer. I asked if was being detained. “Yes,” he answered clearly. I was now considered a supsicious person for not producing my driver’s license on demand for no reason.
After a few minutes of impatient waiting, the superior officer asked a few questions, discovered I had done nothing at all and let me go without further ado. And yet, something had happened at the Capitol.
There, as elsewhere, with every capricious event, came a clumsy hardening of the system. Everytime an unpredictable person surprises us with a crime or even “act of terror” in an otherwise ordinary place, we act not with order and resolve– showing the strength of good laws. We instead react with panic and fear, as we begin regarding everyone with suspicion.
The result is a loss of our principles, and a compromising of good laws with ‘emergency power’ to meet a crisis. Not pursuit of a crime in progress, but a publicly-trusted and oath-sworn officer frightfully uncertain if he is looking out at his fellow-citizens or a sea of potential criminals, potential ‘terrorists.’
In our fear, we capitulate to the purveyors of chaos and lawlessness. Have we truly, fundamentally reached a point where we are so ‘terrorized’ that we really do throw out the baby with the bathwater? The wisdom and protection of the Constitution is our most precious public holding. Would we really violate it for such small urgings?
This article was posted: Friday, January 22, 2010 at 11:48 am