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Letter to the editor: How are uproars over gay rights, NSA alike?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 12:01 am

As I listen to my few friends and many acquaintances, I come to realize that most of the gibberish filling the air is politically correct thought or else someone whose expressions are selective, dependent upon who may be listening. I would like to pick out two of the current subjects – the uproar over the National Security Agency and the uproar over gay marriage. How are those two similar?

Those who sniffle about their rights to privacy being compromised over the NSA’s collection of call records are often the same ones who are willing to jump into the idea that we should make Christian Shariah law to enforce penalties on those who are gay.

My view on the NSA collection of call records is that it is OK as long as it doesn’t include recording or listening to conversations without a warrant. At the telephone company we collected and used this same data, as well as the length of calls, to engineer and design the telephone network. This data was essential to determine the most economical way to route and handle calls. We wanted enough trunks and equipment to hold “busies” to a minimum without breaking the bank by adding necessary amounts of equipment. We never monitored conversations, although when provided with a warrant , we did wire in wire-taps for the use of police agencies .The collection of this data is far, far less intrusive than the data collected by banks, retailers, social media, etc.

Is it helpful for NSA to have this rather unobtrusive data? Absolutely! I don’t understand why someone should feel that the NSA can’t use it to track down terrorists and give me the freedom to live without fear of a bomb in our midst and to slow down the infiltration of drug cartels onto U.S. soil. To quote Supreme Court Judge Arthur Goldberg, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” The figures tell it all; only several hundred of those NSA call records have led to someone listening into conversations, none of them being my friends or acquaintances. The drug lord El Chapo is one whose capture was helped by having call records available and of course, the tracking of Osama bin Laden’s courier is another that led to the demise of OBL. You can have most of your freedoms and liberties taken away unless you are willing to give up a few of those self-imagined freedoms to permit us to live in a reasonably fear-free environment. If you don’t understand, try walking around at night in a high-crime area.

I have seen the pattern that those same individuals who worry about NSA violating our individual freedoms are often the same ones who are quite willing to trounce upon gay peoples individual freedoms. I am heterosexual and have no interest in homosexual love, but I don’t see it as a major threat to my freedom. Look at what Shariah law is doing to the Christians in rebel-held areas of Syria. Religious laws regulating sexual activities are the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. When any religion, whether it is Muslim, Christian, Jewish or whatever, places its morals or beliefs into a law, that is the first step to our loss of religious freedom. I think that these matters belong in the church or within the church’s culture as well as in personal moral conduct. Although the Bible asks me to proselytize, I don’t believe it says I must impose my beliefs upon others. I am aware that there are many, many different versions of Christianity, but I don’t believe any of them really want to return to the days when you had to pass a test about any church’s unique view of how to practice Christianity in order to vote for elected officials in their Commonwealth (Virginia before the Constitution).

Security is essential to maintain our freedom of movement, but we don’t need to trounce upon others’ moral beliefs in order to maintain these freedoms.

Richard Loney