Contempt for the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of corruption of governments.  This is from the French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen, although it sums up the ideals of all who strive for a fair and just government.  Through out history, many groups of people have strived to create a perfect society, while many others have sought to gain power and exploit their fellow man.  During the French revolution, those with societies best interests at heart created a document that they thought would secure societies rightful freedoms, unfortunately, they made several mistakes that allowed those with malicious intents to take power and be nearly unstoppable.  A singly entity should not be able to obtain a great level of power, this has been proven in the past, and society must work to make sure it is not proven again.

            It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.  Voltaire said this, voicing his feelings that he lived under a repressive government.  He said this before the French Revolution.  The revolution began in order to combat inequality, its goals being to create a fair governing body under which all people could live freely and happily.  Those who created the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen though that they had achieved this goal, when in reality they had only managed to create a shield for those with power to stand behind.  On a first reading of this document, it seems that it will protect society from a cruel government by creating several inalienable rights.  Upon closer inspection, it is evident that although it might look good, the document is useless, and it might even help the government to be worse than it was before.   The first major problem with the document is that it presents many rights to the people, but still allows society to be exploited by leaving many loopholes.  To preserve freedom of speech, it states “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions… provided their manifestation dos not disturbed the public order established by law.”  Before, if someone spoke out against the government, they would be punished, now they would only be punished if the disturbed the publics order.  Unfortunately, the government, the very group that was spoken out against in the first place, defines “public order”.  This means that a person has no greater rights then they did before, it only appears that they do, and even if the people have more rights, the governments power is not checked in any way.  Similar loopholes also negate nearly all the other effects of the Declaration of Rights of Man.  In order to protect this new “freedom”, the Committee of Public Safety was created, they were given absolute power to protect society and their freedoms in any way necessary.  This group took the most extreme measures to “protect society.  Anyone who spoke out against the government was considered a threat and was executed.  The COPS made the biggest threat against freedom the government itself, and it destroyed what it was trying to protect. Robespierre, the head of the COPS, became so consumed in making sure that the government was secure, he forgot that the very point of the revolution was to help society, and he was a major factor against society.  These events show how when unchecked, power corrupts, and there must be means to make sure that power is used properly.

            Those who are willing to sacrifice basic freedoms for a little temporary security deserve neither.  Benjamin Franklin believed that a government should only protect its people to the point before it begins to take freedoms.  The Patriot Act, as well as the upcoming Patriot act II, server to disarm the public of their freedoms in the name of public safety and the flag.  The very name of the bills attempt to make them seem as if they are the American way, and that those who may oppose them are in fact working against the country.  The truth is that the bills are themselves un-American, as America was founded on the principles of freedom and equality, even as the bills move towards the abolishment of these principles, their supports make it seem as if they are defending Americas freedoms.  Many conservatives will say that what makes America great is the higher standard of living, and the un-oppressed and free lives Americans lead.  Few people will argue this.  The Patriot act is only working to destroy what America stands for, the logic being that it is the only way to keep society safe.  But what is the point of maintaining a society if its very foundation has been destroyed?  Conservative logic seems to be saying that in order to defend something, we must make it a shamble of its former self in order to make it easier to defend.  Although, there is not point in destroying what you love in order to maintain a memory of it, when you can simply keep it in its current state.  Whatever greater threats freedom may bring from the outside, the lack of freedom brings an infinitely greater risk from within.

            Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  It seems that America is now at a parallel point in history as to when France was at the time the COPS were put into power.  France was at a point were they freed that the physical safety of the country was in trouble, and they wanted to protect the newfound rights that their revolution had so recently afforded them.  In America, many people feel that the country is in danger from a newfound enemy, terrorists.  One common opinion is that the only way to be safe from this threat is to give the government an unprecedented level of power and control over the people in order to root out this threat, and hopefully avert any future terrorists actions, at the sacrifice of the rights of the average citizen.  In many ways, both means of protection, the COPS and the Patriot acts, inadvertently become their own worst enemy.  Both take protective measures to an extreme, and in doing so give a great level of unchecked power.  In France, this power destroyed many liberties.  The patriot acts themselves take away many civil rights, and by doing so allow the government to exploit society.  The COPS lead to a dictatorship, and with the Patriot Act, it is easy to see how something similar could happen, the most sure way to stop this is to make sure that a group does not come into unchecked power, and that a group is not checking itself.

            When the French felt the need to be protected, they placed themselves in a dictatorship that only served to act what the people feared.  In America, people have been scared into believing that the only way to be safe is to give up their rights to the government, and let those above them decide how they should live their lives.  History shows that people should not be willing to let their freedoms be taken, because that only works to give the government more power. A free society will often be safe from foreign invaders, and will always be safe from internal threats, a society that is not free will often be safe from foreign invaders, but never can be safe from internal threats.

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