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08/04/2004 Archived Entry: ""Going over the edge""

SORRY ABOUT MY ABSENCE. I'VE BEEN DOING RADIO INTERVIEWS during what would otherwise be my blogging time. This morning I was on a call-in show in Missouri on which one of the callers inadvertently brought up an important point.

It was an interesting show, in general. The hosts were quite rowdy, good humored, and libertarian without ever being explicit about it. The three men who phoned in at the end of the 45-minute chat were of a different stripe: very sober, intelligent, respectful, but markedly Bush-conservative. They were well-informed in a mainstream way. One "knew," for instance that Patriot Act Section 215 (the library fishing-expedition provision) has never been used even once -- because that's what John Ashcroft claims. But he didn't know about the substantial number of librarians who report that Section 215 has most definitely been put into action in their own libraries.

The first caller, having listened to the hosts and me bantering for a half hour observed, "You start with things everyone can agree with about privacy and so on. But then you go over the edge." He didn't approve of going over the edge. For instance, although he agreed that armed citizens on airplanes would seriously deter hijackers, he considered it folly for me to talk about it because "there's not a snowball's chance the government will ever allow it." So in his eyes, the only anti-terrorism measures open for legitimate discussion were ones the government will allow. And allow in the present moment.

My reply on that particular point wasn't great. I simply agreed that it was my job in life to be the one to go over the edge or cross the line, then went on to deal with his other issues. I wish I'd pointed out that, unless somebody goes over the line ... somebody discusses the "impossible" ... somebody pushes the boundaries ... then things never really change. The outrageous ideas of today become tomorrow's reality if enough people, or enough really serious people, get behind them. Thousands of bad outrageous ideas have become government policy. Isn't it time for some freedom-enhancing outrageous ideas to get more of a hearing?

I'm well aware that my ideas (and real hard-core freedom ideas, expressed by thousands of us) aren't mainstream and I don't expect mainstreamers to like or adopt them (which is one reason why this whole mainstream radio-interview business increasingly looks like a waste). I understand the comfort and practicality of staying within what can be achieved.

But it's what can't be achieved right now that's most worth aiming at.

Posted by Claire @ 11:59 AM CST

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