The thin wedge to immobilize citizens

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The thin wedge to immobilize citizens
An introduction to two essays exploring the unfolding war on freedom of movement


Over the last several months, I have been researching a series of legal assertions now being advanced by governments, worldwide, but which, while being enacted piecemeal in individual countries, can only be fully understood in their aggregate and in the recognition that those governments are clearly working jointly in achieving their aspirations for tracking and limiting the movement of people.

Developments in this area are very dynamic and so my findings are, themselves, a work in progress. Nevertheless, enough is now known to perceive a very clear and ominous trajectory in our governments' ambitions to regulate the movement of all people, both within – and between – countries.

That government has always had such ambitions is nothing new, of course. What is new, and fundamentally different from any other moment in the past, is government's unprecedented ability, through the accession of a powerful and completely new digital infrastructure, to make real and attainable what was once an unachievable dream. Its far-reaching ambitions for total control now lie fully within its ability to grasp. The limits of technology which once held its desire for omniscience in check have been effectively removed to grant it an extraordinary level of power over the lives of its citizens.

So far, my writing in this area consists of two pieces:

1) A report on “The International Megan’s Law”, both as a bill recently passed in the U.S. House (to be considered now in the Senate) and as a global concept which extends to all other nations through both international agreements as well as through the efforts of international bodies, such as Interpol (a previously backwater agency revivified through the opportunities afforded by Islamic terrorism), who coordinate and implement its sweeping and dangerous policies. The openly hoped-for result of the U.S. bill, if it becomes law, is to nearly eliminate American child sex offenders from ever leaving the U.S. But it is also clear that that goal is being (at least partially) attained with, or without, the help of Megan. The title of that piece is: “DEAD END: The International Megan's Law Assault on Everyone's Freedom of Travel – The free movement of the individual is increasingly seen as a revocable privilege – not an inalienable right.”.

2) A report on the current treatment of American sex offenders who return from travel abroad (and from any country) by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Those who have traveled over many years likely noticed some dramatic changes in the way they were welcomed back home by that agency soon after September 11, 2001. That treatment has only escalated in severity since then: it is ever more intrusive, more threatening and more violative. So much so that many have decided that travel is simply no longer worth the degradation which they will experience upon their return. And that is, after all, the point of such harassment, isn't it? That piece is called: “HOMELAND SECURITY'S ASSAULT ON TRAVEL: How America's sex laws endanger you, your children's and everyone's freedom of movement as travelers are routinely detained, interrogated, searched and harassed by the Department of Homeland Security”.

I identify this trend, that of limiting the movement of people through the imposition of regimes of extreme pretextual scrutiny, as one which is running counter to another trend now emerging in its reaction: the demand to restore freedom-of-movement as an essential principle of freedom itself.

This counter-trend is up against powerful adversaries as governments have always been to a people grown complacent and unsuspicious of its motives.

But of course, it's also coming up against people themselves who have come to believe that the movement of people between countries must be as constrained as technology allows it to be, and out of a sense of perilous threat were it to be otherwise. Apart from the historical porosity of borders and its quality to empower the rights of the individual as well as to propagate free societies, they also fail to appreciate the near limitless effects which technology of the present, as well as of the near-future, will have upon their autonomy and upon their future array of choices. Systems now being devised will forever limit their opportunities and constrain their interactions with others well into any foreseeable future but in ways which they cannot foresee.

It would be a terrible shame to see our civilization brought to tyranny through the incuriosity and untroubled indifference that is so characteristic of so many of its members.

Men used to go to war and die for the rights which so many now eagerly volunteer to relinquish, identifying them as, somehow, quaintly anachronistic and no longer affordable or even terribly worthwhile.

Those of us who know them to be wrong have an obligation to tell them so, to bear witness to the unfolding destruction of our liberties and to do all in our power to stop a dangerous movement fundamentally inimical to freedom.

I am gratified that there exists a resource such as “BoyWiki” to make freely available this work on the ever-escalating and disturbing attacks on freedom-of-movement. It is, I believe, essential reading for anyone who needs to understand some of the implications for the authoritarian shift which has taken hold within society and which has taken government off of its leash but which will repay us – for our complacence – by doing its very worst.


- David Kennerly

See also