Compare And Contrast

Currently in Boston, they’re trying out a new program to cut down on gun violence. The police are going to homes and asking for permission to search the house for illegal guns. If any are found, they are confiscated — but no charges are being filed. And if the residents refuse, the police (in theory) thank them for their time and move on.

This has a lot of people concerned about the intrusiveness of the police, and potential violations of civil rights and intimidation of people.

I’m not too thrilled about it. Surprisingly, this puts me on the same side as the ACLU, which is going out of its way to make sure residents know that they can refuse the search without fear of repercussions.

But the Boston Globe found a couple of scholarly sorts to defend the program, and published their lengthy essay last Sunday.

While I was reading it, I found myself seeing many familiar terms and concepts. Safety, security, making compromises for the common good, trusting officials to do the right thing and keep their word and respect boundaries…

In short, many of the same arguments put forth by the Bush administration to justify many of its anti-terrorist programs.

There are a few differences, though. The Bush administration focuses its efforts on people who do bad things — or want to. The Boston police are after objects, and we all know that things are far more dangerous than people. Just last week, I read the story about a shotgun going on a rampage and killing seven people before police tackled and unloaded it. They’re currently seeking the owner who let it loose to run amok.

Another is that the Bush administration is looking at finding ways within the laws, creative and constructive solutions to protecting the American people. The Boston cops are showing up unannounced at homes and hoping that they can intimidate people into signing away their rights and allowing them to go through their homes.

I’d be very interested in seeing Mr. Braga and Reverend Brown distinguish between the Boston police’s new “Safe Homes” program and the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism programs. The convolutions of logic and rationalizations and justifications could be most entertaining.

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