By Marta Mossburg
The Hendricks County Flyer
Mon Jan 21, 2013, 03:42 PM EST
After the Newtown, Conn., massacre it seems crude to speak of rights and facts. With the unfulfilled lives of 20 children and six adults mercilessly gunned down foremost in our minds, it is more soothing to talk about safety and stopping the violence and letting those in authority do their jobs.
But this is when those who care about civil liberties have the most to fear because those who would strip us of rights know it is easier to regulate and legislate after tragedies. Psychology tells us why: Humans crave coherence and neat solutions, even when none are available.
Think of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It gave the government broad new powers to surveil individuals and search their property - with no means to test whether the new regulations would thwart terrorists.
Or think of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 in response to the financial crisis. Its regulations ensure bailouts for the biggest banks, which are larger now than they were before the Great Recession.
As President Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
It is in that light that we should view Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance's comments about "misinformation."
In a Dec. 16 news conference, Vance said anyone who posts misleading information on social media sites about the Newtown case would be "investigated, statewide and federally, and prosecution will take place when people perpetrating this information are identified."
He added, "All information relative to this case is coming from these microphones."
It's horrible that anyone would consider posing as 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza, try to disrupt the investigation of the murders, or cause further heartbreak for the victims' families.
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An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.
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