2013-03-28 / Editorial


How safe are we?

Our island schools are currently undergoing major security upgrades in wake of the tragic shootings of elementary school students in Newtown, Conn.

You will now have to go through two sets of secure doors to access each of the schools. Both sets of reinforced metal doors will be surrounded by bulletresistant glass and monitored by video surveillance. If you are dropping something off at school for your child, there will be a transaction window – much like the one found at the local police station. That led a Town Council member to suggest the security renovations made the school seem like a prison.

Although the school doors were previously locked, this new heightened state of security represents another example of our eroding freedoms. In the national debate it has been suggested that we place armed guards in all of our schools. Some extremists even want to have the teachers carry firearms. But what’s to stop the next crazed gunman from attacking a bus load of children?

A new department of the federal government – Homeland Security – was formed after the attacks of Sept. 11. Now we must submit to body scans and TSA groping in order to fly. Once we’re aboard the airplane an armored cockpit door protects the pilot and co-pilot from any unruly passengers.

When you ride on Amtrak you are warned that your bags can be searched at any time. There are also police dogs to sniff out explosives and drugs in the major metro stations.

Almost everywhere we turn there are closed circuit television cameras – video surveillance – watching our every move. Often what the security camera views is processed by a mainframe computer that has facial recognition software.

No longer can one hide in the crowd. Big Brother will find your face.

It used to be that our personal information could be used for identification. I remember taking tests in college where students wrote their Social Security numbers on the exams instead of their names. Today we would never do that. We protect our personal information as if it is gold, because in many way it is more valuable than gold. In these days of advanced technology, hackers armed with just a few details of information about you can steal your identity and empty your bank accounts in the blink of an eye.

The state of Wisconsin has a sign on one of its borders warning criminals and terrorists that its citizens are armed. It seems that the old Wild, Wild West days are returning. Who says that history doesn’t repeat itself?

One has to wonder: Are we any safer with all of this extra security? Or is the world a more dangerous place?

— Jeff McDonough

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