Big Brother’s been working out

The Patriot Act. It sounds pretty, well, patriotic, doesn’t it? But are we really safer than we were before Sept. 11, 2001, because of it?

It’s debatable.

One thing we know for sure: The Patriot Act has given the U.S. government even more power to intrude on our privacy – the prime example being the story that moved last week about the government’s ability to seize our personal phone records. Face it folks, there is no such thing as a personal phone call anymore.

Big brother has gotten bigger and stronger. And scarier.

The government insists it’s not listening to our calls (I guess we’ll have to believe that), but it’s still disheartening to know the calls we make are being tracked. Our liberties seem to be eroding more and more every day, and while no one wants a terrorist living next door, it’s hard to blame anyone for having even more ill will toward our government today than in the past.

We want to believe our country is safer, and maybe it is; certainly a number of terrorist plots have been foiled in recent years. But try convincing the people of Boston we’re all safer.

We need the Patriot Act, but in a revised form. The American public should not be an open book for our government to peruse anytime it wants or deems necessary. Since our government doesn’t always practice transparency, this is boldface hypocrisy.

This country tends to work in mysterious ways. Just a few months ago, the head of the Transportation Security Administration insisted on lifting a ban on small knives aboard airplanes. Thankfully, after sleeping on it for a few months (and after receiving some not-so-positive feedback on the idea), he decided last week not to further pursue that nightmarish scenario. But the very fact that it was being considered makes us wonder what really goes in the minds of our top officials.

It’s one thing to live under the ominous cloud of terrorism, but we shouldn’t fear our own government. That’s not right. That’s not American.