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Friday, August 19, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Civil libertarians, keep your eye on this

Editorial: Civil libertarians, keep your eye on this

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There are two sides to every coin, and there are legitimate reasons why the Fairfax County government is on the hunt for federal cash to expand its efforts to, as staff wrote in a memo to supervisors, “identify and divert individuals who may be at risk to radicalize or mobilize to violence prior to any encounters with law enforcement.”

And yes, the $215,000 grant being sought isn’t exactly going to provide a quantum leap over existing efforts. Compared to the overall police budget, it’s a rounding error.

But one would hope that true civil-liberties advocates will be keeping an eye on this. (By “true civil-liberties advocates,” we mean those who haven’t been co-opted into far-left wokester-dopesterism as, sadly, the likes of the ACLU appear to have been.)

The key word in the quote in the first paragraph is “may.” How many powers are going to be handed over to law enforcement (or social-service personnel) throughout the various rungs of government in order to address something that “may” happen or someone who “may” seem to someone to be a future threat? And what remedies are there for anyone indiscriminately caught up in an Orwellian nightmare that could result?

(An aside: We are welcome to be proved wrong, but based on the verbiage in the staff report, it certainly appears efforts will be based on addressing those on one side of the political spectrum. Wanna hazard a guess which one?)

Obviously, nobody should want anyone who turns out to be a threat to themselves or others to slip between the cracks when red flags are present, as seems to have happened in just about every recent big-ticket shootings and thousands of other, lesser-reported incidents that occur across our embattled fruited plain in a given year.

But at the same time, we fear the slippery slope of encroaching government authoritarianism in addressing perceived rather than substantiated threats. (Do the excesses of the Patriot Act ring a bell?)

Hopefully Fairfax officials have their ducks in a row as they aim to expand their footprint on this complicated and nuanced issue. Because the increasing use of government resources to inquire into the lives and actions of those who haven’t done anything illegal certainly would seem to lend itself to the potential for misuse and abuse.

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