Two stories in domestic news this week may have hit a nerve: The first involves a student about to be expelled from secondary school on November 26th. She will, specifically, be jettisoned from a Science and Engineering program for her refusal to comply with wearing a mandatory RFID tracking device, a “smart” tracking device, around her neck. This rule is not specific to this student; the identifying device is already mandatory for all of the students attending this school. The device carries photo ID, name, a tracking chip, a bar code and identifies and pinpoints the exact location of each student, even after school hours. The second story dealt with a law permitting “authorities” to read anyone’s emails without any authorization. Neither of these stories hearkens from a Communist country. These totalitarian innovations are home grown.
The first story takes place in San Antonio, Texas. The subject is Andrea Hernandez; the school is John Jay High School, a magnet school. John Jay is not a school for habitual offenders. John Jay High School requires high academic scores and unparalleled attendance records in order to qualify for enrollment. It also requires full participation in the identification and tracking program. Ms. Hernandez’s refusal, undertaken with the full support of her family, may result in Ms. Hernandez’s expulsion then transfer to Howard Taft High School. Howard Taft HS does not “currently” participate in the tracking program. Nor does it have a specialized Science and Engineering curriculum.
The second story originated in the United States Senate. The bill, originally designed to “protect the privacy of America’s citizens” was…changed. Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont, self-satisfied, self-appointed defender of the people, had surreptitiously revised the original bill so that, according to Declan McCullagh of C-NET, “Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.” The original bill, according to Senator Leahy, was supposed to provide “enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by…requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.” Oh, really? It looked an awful lot as if the revised bill eliminated that need. Senator Leahy was not interested in protecting Americans; he was attempting to demolish the first amendment. Scalded by exposure, Leahy dropped the bill on Tuesday (I will not “support such an exception” for warrantless access). As if he hadn’t been the one to make “warrantless access” a provision of the bill in the first place. The bill had been scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week.
The Senate grows more overweening by the day. That is why this story remains noteworthy. The only reason Senator Leahy withdrew his support of his own bill was that daylight had disinfected it. Without the outrage generated by a vigilant public it would have been buried by the media next week. Welcome to the most “transparent administration in America’s history.”
Students of John Jay High School, and their families, are objecting to mandated tracking on the grounds of religious freedom and freedom of speech infringement. Local outcry has forced a suggested compromise by John Jay HS; removing the battery and tracking chip but keeping the photo ID, student’s name and bar code (directly linked to the student’s social security number). The Hernandez family, however, would be “required” to end their criticism of the directive. Ms. Hernandez’s father categorically refuses. He doesn’t understand why his right to disagree with the offensive program should be forbidden. Neither should anyone else. Students at John Jay complain of being treated “like cattle”. They are wrong about that. Purebred cattle have it better; they aren’t tracked everywhere they go nor do they wear microchips; only ear tags with a number.
These two stories may appear unrelated. They are actually inextricably linked. These are just two examples of bureaucracy, Federal or local, growing increasingly eager to limit one’s freedom under this administration’s encouraging eye. Both stories are powerfully cautionary. How is it that ID’s carried for voting purposes are an “infringement of rights” but American citizens are required to submit not only to wearing ID but being tracked everywhere they go, 24/7? When did it become acceptable to even consider monitoring an American’s communications, without a warrant? Has America reached the point where only the “rights” of illegals are protected?