Benjamin Franklin Summary Response
In Ben Franklin’s 1759 quote he describes that people who are willing to give up their own freedom for a small amount of safety deserve to neither have freedom nor safety. He explains how if someone is willing to give up their personal freedom or privacy for a small amount of safety, then they deserve to not have either.
In Ben Franklin’s 1759 quote he incorrectly portrays that people who are willing to give up their own freedom for a small amount of safety deserve neither because if we want to stay safe then we have to give up some privacy and if we are willing to give up privacy for safety then we should at least get safety. Franklin stated, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” (Benjamin Franklin, 1759). As a citizen of the United States I want to make sure that I am as safe as possible. If this means that I have to give up some of my privacy to ensure that I am safe, then I am willing to do so. For example, I am willing to be videotaped and on surveillance cameras if it means that the criminals are on surveillance cameras as well. I am not doing anything wrong, so I have nothing to hide being on camera. The people who are doing illegal actions will also be on camera which gives the government a better chance of being able to find these people and keep myself and others safe. Nancy La Vigne describes how video surveillance cameras help identify criminals, “The potential value of public surveillance technology took on new meaning last week when investigators identified the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing after sifting through video images captured by the city’s cameras. This has prompted public officials like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to speak of the “important function” such cameras play in offering safety on a daily basis and during events both big and small” (How Surveillance Cameras Can Help Prevent and Solve Crime, Nancy G. La Vigne). La Vigne is explaining how the surveillance cameras made it so the government was able to find the criminals of the Boston Marathon shooting. She also describes that the cameras are proving to protect people more than take away their privacy so more and more people want them. If I personally want to stay safe, and think that the way to do this is to give up some freedom and privacy, then I should be allowed to do so and have some privacy as well as safety. Whoever is willing to give up freedom for safety, should get that safety for their sacrifice.
However, some people believe that the way to stay safe is not by giving up personal freedoms. If you give up freedoms such as your privacy, then what makes you deserve to be safe. We are videotaped by the government hundreds of times throughout the day. If the government can see what you are doing and where are you are going every second of the day, what makes you think that the rest of the world and criminals can’t see what you are doing. If you are willing to be surveillanced, then you are putting yourself out there to criminals, therefore you don’t deserve to be safe. Matt Rotenberg from EPIC agreed with this argument, “ In documents obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Information Act, travelers routinely described the body scanner experience as embarrassing and humiliating. Pregnant women worry about the effects of radiation. Men and women liken the pat-downs to sexual assault” (Body scanners, pat-downs violate law and privacy, Matt Rotenberg). Rotenberg is explaining how body and security scanners violate people’s privacy. They can see things that people might not want them to see, and the make women and men feel uncomfortable. He is explaining how many people feel violated by the body scanners and how using them in places like airports is unconstitutional. Freedom is something that all people should have the right to just like privacy. Things such as being surveillanced everyday or having to go through security scans most public places that you go to are taking away your freedom and privacy. If the government gets to watch you, what makes it so everyone can’t watch you. You don’t deserve safety if you are willing to give up personal freedoms.At first glance, many people agree with Benjamin Franklin’s ideas that if someone is willing to give up their freedom or privacy to the government in order to stay safe, then they deserve neither. We cannot deny that giving your freedom and privacy up to the government, also gives it up to the rest of the world, and if you are willing to do so, then shouldn’t deserve freedom nor safety. This interpretation is helpful, but it misses the important point that in today’s society the only way to ensure that we are safe is to watch the criminals, and we don’t know who the criminals are unless we watch everyone. If the government watches some people, then they have to watch them all. I want to be and feel safe, as I am sure many people do. If being surveillanced and having to go through security is what that takes, then I am okay with it because I have nothing to hide. The only way that safety can be ensured or as close to ensured as possible is by being videotaped or having to go through security everywhere you go. And in order to catch the criminals, all people must be watched and checked. In conclusion, in Benjamin Franklin’s 1759 quote, he incorrectly portrays that people who are willing to give up their freedom for safety, deserve neither because giving up part of your freedom is the only way to stay safe in today’s society.