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Individual Rights vs. Public Order

Concentrating more on public order than individual rights would decrease, the crime rate, fear of crime, and terrorism in the United States. Greater public order lowers crime but limits individual rights; laws concentrating on individual rights tend to create public disorder and high fear of crime.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' formulation of liberty is that "each individual should have the maximum liberty consistent with the equal liberty of all other individuals" (Tarr, 63). America is founded on the value of the individual and that value is often expressed in the right of to privacy. Today, we are faced with the threat of terrorists who can hide within our borders and kill scores of citizens in a single act. The government must have the ability to discover the presence of terrorists and to stop them before they commit such acts as the attack September 11. Thus the issue of privacy must be looked at in light of the question of national security - the security of every citizen of the United States (Wilkinson, 208).

One of the terrorists who participated in the attacks on September 11, 2001, had been put on a "terrorist watch list" after he was spotted meeting with known al-Qaeda terrorists in Malaysia. In fact the FBI had agents looking for him after it was discovered in reviewing INS files that he was already in the country. He had used his own name on a credit card to purchase a ticket for Flight 77 the day of the attack. Had he been detained at any point after entering the country before the attacks he might have given up information that would have allowed the authorities to disrupt or even prevent the coming attack, saving of 3,000 lives and the destruction in New York City (Woolley, 46). He was not discovered because the government's information files were not connected to any of the other databases, such as the credit card company. While Amercians would certainly chafe at the idea of the government monitoring the...

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Individual Rights vs. Public Order. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:42, February 26, 2017, from