Especially considering the revelations of such far-reaching spying and data gathering recently, I decided to play that old game of imagining what the Founding Fathers would have to say. We may not know for sure, but we may have some clues - and I do have some actual quotes!
So imagine a news anchor is on air when 5 gentlemen in colonial garb enter the studio...
"Here in the studio are some gentlemen with extraordinary claims. I think I'll let them speak for themselves and you folks at home can make up your own minds." She gives a microphone to the first guest.
"This is George Washington. I have some real concerns about the state of our freedoms. In 1783, I said, 'If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to slaughter.' Citizens, do not take this Freedom, or any other of our Freedoms for granted. Be ever vigilant."
The next guest takes the microphone. "This is John Adams. I learned the hard way that Freedom of Speech needs to respected. Yes, the Bill of Rights is there for a reason. Remember also not invest too much power in any one official. My words are still true: ' ...trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.' By the way, Mrs. Adams keeps asking me about why some Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified."
The microphone passes to a third guest. "This is Thomas Jefferson. It is true that members of our generation were the first American Dissenters. So nothing could be more American. I still feel that 'The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.' Do not let government put out this fire of independence of spirit."
Guest number four now takes up the mike. "This is Benjamin Franklin. A wise man once said, ' They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.' Oh, that was me, wasn't it? Well, I told you it was a wise man! My message to you today is do not give into fear-mongering, but cherish and defend your liberties. Freedom may have some risks, but isn't it really better than the alternative?"
Guest number five now takes his turn. "This is James Madison. Please remember who ordained our Constitution. It was 'We, the People.' It was not We, the Surveillance State, and certainly not We, the Corporations. One of the functions of our hallowed document is to 'secure the Blessings of Liberty.' We must make sure we hold our laws and officials to that standard."
The microphone passes back to George Washington. "Dear citizens, remember that a republic is supposed to foster liberty and freedom. As I wrote so many years ago, 'It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.' Know your freedoms and protect them."
The anchor receives back the microphone. "Thank you, gentlemen for sharing with us your very stimulating thoughts. We'll be right back after this break."