Will Terrorism end our civil liberties?

A friend of mine (not sure if he wants to be named in this blog) and I were exchanging some email on the topic of terrorism. He had this to say:

I think that as terrorism gets more and more sophisticated that we will eventually have to give up some of our cherished rights just to survive. It’s even possible that one day in the future all sports events, political rallies, concerts, etc., may be too risky to attend and they all become strictly televised events. This is simply because it may be too dangerous to have a large gathering of people in one spot, especially when it’s pre-announced.

To which I respond:

I suspect the basic human need to gather in large crowds will not be thwarted by terrorism.

We waste an awful lot of time with idiotic measures that I’m hopeful will be abandoned soon in favor of more practical approaches that don’t simply pay lip service to the protections we are demanding.

But the reality of terrorism is that it’s simply not that big a player / risk even in places where it is common. It is sensational but it is not terribly effective from a damage POV. The 9/11 attacks killed only about 3,000 people – deliberately to be sure. Where 30,000 – 40,000 folks died that year on roadways throughout America. Really, where do we think further dollars spent could yield the greatest citizen safety boost?

I think, worst case, we’ll just consider it another part of the risk of going about our business. Best case, we’ll have more effective means of preventing it or ameliorating it’s impacts that won’t reduce our civil liberties. Frankly I’d rather risk getting killed going to the store than to ask a government bureaucrat for permission to do so.

I’m an optimist in that I think that people are clever enough to apply our genius to resolving the issues of our day through a combination of sophisticated social engineering and technological tools.

I’m a pessimist in that I feel that any of the solutions that we come up with need to be safeguarded from our government’s unconditional use. Already our congress is rife with foolish bills and notions, many promulgated by special interest groups which serve as our representatives’ sole source of information on many topics. It is against these narrowly educated/experienced people that we need to safeguard our government and our most basic liberties.

So, dear reader, what do *you* think?