Get Liberated ! - not regulated 

Our civil liberties were slipping away long before Patriot Act

Your July 11 editorial "Patriot shame" condemns those "insidious provisions of the Patriot Act" such as the government's ability to "search bookstores and library records" for reading habits. Our civil liberties are under attack! Rep. Michael McNulty comes to the rescue by voting with the Democrat block in an election year to strike that provision and save liberty. I find this curious. Where have you and McNulty been for the past few generations while our liberties have been legislated away?

Shall we start with the law that regulates smokers? Even Southern blacks were not segregated to stand in the cold when they wanted a smoke. Dare we remember the Second Amendment? A Crossgates Mall jeweler was recently robbed. He had the temerity to give chase and fire his licensed gun at the criminals. No one was hit or hurt. Still, the victim found himself before the judge. The criminals are free.

Where is the civil liberties crowd or Mr. McNulty when people who want to mentor kids or start a child care business must agree to fingerprinting and records searches? Seems a lot like guilty before proven innocent.

Who cannot inform on anyone for almost anything to an array of government agencies for any number of reasons? Recently, in Troy, neighbors didn't like the pigeons next door and called the authorities. An 81-year-old man, who harmed no one, was arrested because he refused to allow an inspector into his apartment. Where was McNulty then? Where was the ACLU? Where was the Times Union editorial board? All were silent.

In today's America, teachers must report questionable bruises that could get parents investigated and sent to the slammer. Health care practitioners can lose their licenses for a failure to report "suspicious" wounds. Bank employees must report suspicious money transactions to government agents. And the list goes on.

While you and Democrats rail about government agents investigating reading habits of terror suspects, government OSHA agents can investigate private construction sites. Health Department agents can investigate private businesses. Code enforcement agents can investigate private property. IRS agents can investigate your private financial records. By the way, how have those drug laws affected civil liberties? Have we forgotten Waco so soon?

At what point did we forget civil liberties and enter the police state? So what is this sudden outrage over the Patriot Act all about?

Loretta Hetzner
First published: Albany Times Union; Monday, July 19, 2004