The Patriot Act allows the government to classify unruly activity by passengers on airlines as acts of terrorism. Some individuals have been treated overly harsh because of this. For example, the following article describes a woman, Tamera Freeman, who was charged with a federal felony because she cursed at a flight attendant and threw her tomato juice on the floor.
As I was at the gas station, I thought about the potential dangers we have all been warned about such as smoking at the gas station, talking on a cell phone, and filling your car while the vehicle is running. These acts could all cause a massive explosion resulting in loss of life. What if the government, realizing this potential avenue for terrorism, decided to treat gas station violators as terrorists…..
A man pulls into the gas station and begins to fill his car with gas. As the meter slowly climbs, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a box of cigarettes and a lighter. He lights up and takes his first puff. Before he can begin to enjoy the cigarette, a bucket of cold water is thrown on him, and he is tackled to the ground. Rough hands pull him up and drag him to the back of the gas station where he is beaten and then chained to the bathroom urinal until federal agents can arrive. In the meantime, his car is impounded.
Imagine another scenario. A woman pulls into the gas station. Her kids are bouncing around in the back seat, and you can hear their playful voices as she steps out of the vehicle. Her phone rings as she begins to fill the car. “Hello?” she says as she answers. “Oh yes, I am on my way home. I just stopped at the gas station. We’ll be home soo…” She is cut off mid-sentence as a bullet tears through the phone sending fragments into her ear and shoulder. The man with the gun commands her to get on the ground. In her panic, she looks to her children as they begin to scream. Another man vaults over the hood of the car and sprays pepper spray in her eyes while pushing her to the ground. She is handcuffed and led away. Agents arrive later to collect evidence from the scene and take custody of the woman. A social worker begins speaking with her children.
Sound plausible? Not right now but that is not the point. We need to make sure we don’t go too far when trying to protect people. We still have rights – sacred rights – that must be protected.