Liberty and Security: A Balancing Act

Recently, I was asked by a well-respected foreign policy expert to participate in a panel discussion. The title: Limiting Free Speech in an Age of Religious Extremism and Terrorism.

This got me thinking. I was asked to participate as the editor of the student newspaper here on campus, but that’s not all I am. I’m also a political science major, and an Army ROTC cadet. This left me with much to consider. I, like everyone else, must be able to reconcile my chosen career with my ideals. Thomas Jefferson once said that if given the choice between having a government and having a newspaper, he’d choose a newspaper. To an extent, I agree. I think a free and intelligent press is necessary for the success of a free state, but I know, as a journalist, that there is a tremendous responsibility that comes with reporting the news.
Journalistic ethics poses some of the most difficult questions I’ve ever come across. How do you reconcile the ideals of liberty and security? There is no easy answer, but I know that it is necessary to make sacrifices for both.
As someone who wants to spend his life sacrificing for his country, I know that there are many liberties that I will have taken away from me, or curtailed, and I take that obligation freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. However, at the same time, I am committing my life to the defense of liberty and for the security of my country.
I can’t tell you where the limit is for curtailing liberty in order to preserve security. But in the words of Justice Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it.
I invite everyone to consider the extent to which you’re willing to trade one for the other, because, after all, once we give up our liberty, what do we have to fight for?

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