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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vandalism of the Lincoln Memorial

A few days ago, the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized. The monument was temporarily closed and the police have no suspects.

If the government cannot stop hooligans from vandalizing one of the most prominent monuments in the nation's capital, how could it possibly defend against terrorism? The monument is under surveillance and guard 24/7 and whoever did it still got away with it.

The NSA surveillance program and its defenders say that spying on Americans will prevent terrorism by keeping an eye on everyone. Incidents like this show that the government is not god. It is made up of imperfect, fallible people no different than anyone else. It is a crude instrument of coercion that works at best, some of the time. There is no justification for the billions of dollars the government confiscates by force in the name of safety when they cannot guard a statue from vandals.

No doubt authoritarians who read this will immediately chime in with the inane strawman that folks like me believe the government should not try to stop vandalism. Uh huh, because pointing out the imperfections in something is totally the same thing as saying that it should be abolished entirely.  In case things are not clear enough, yes, the government should try to stop things like terrorism, but no, they should be allowed to read everyone's email or listen to or track their phone calls. Yes, national monuments should be guarded against vandalism, but it would be impossible to prevent ALL vandalism without eliminating free access to the monuments.

It is impossible to eliminate all risk of things like crime and terrorism without destroying liberty, which is the most precious thing of all. I have heard that some liberty must be sacrificed for safety. I disagree. Liberty provides the best safeguard against the greatest danger there is: government.



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