2004-07-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Better To Be Prudent Than To Be Dead

You walk into the movie theater at Green Acres and pass through a metal detector designed to insure that you are not carrying a weapon. You do the same when you walk into a number of local middle schools. When entering the airport departure areas, you walk through metal detectors and are sometimes asked to take off your shoes to make sure you are not carrying a weapon or a bomb. You go into any sports arena in the area and your bags are checked for contraband. Each of those actions are designed to ensure the safety of those who are innocent of any crime yet are at risk from criminals and terrorists. Are your rights under the U.S. Constitution being violated when you are asked to do these things? Judge Robert Sweet, a federal judge, has ruled that rudimentary searches such as those will not be allowed for those entering the area where the Republican National Convention will be held beginning in later August. Sweet says that, if the New York City Police Department wants to search the bags of those entering the area, it has to prove to the judge’s satisfaction that there is a “specific danger to public safety” and that the danger could be lessened by searching private property such as pocketbooks, backpacks and tote bags. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, to his credit, as pledged to fight the ban. “In this day and age, to not inspect bags at large gatherings where common sense says if somebody wanted to be a terrorist they might very well show up does not make any sense,” the mayor said. A spokesperson for the New York Civil Liberties Union said that the decision was a good one. “It keeps the cops from treating protestors like criminals,” she said. The problem is, some of the protesters might well be criminals or terrorists and those who are fighting the police department’s plans to keep us all safe might well be allowing those criminals and terrorists access to a very sensitive event.

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