The much dreaded and much debated anti-terrorism bill desired, crafted and endorsed by the administration, carries both good and bad news as now formally approved by Congress. First the good news: much of its sharp and mortal fangs have been removed. And to make it less disgusting and disturbing, it is even given a new title: “Human Security Act of 2007”. It has to be admitted that the amendments made thereon constitute more than just having it merely deodorized.
Yet, it also carries a bad news: it punishes those who bring about “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in unlawful demand.” To say the least, this provision by itself alone already says a mouthful. In effect, it raises many legitimate doubts and questions even among well meaning citizens.
What really makes fear—not simply trepidation, apprehension or distress? As basically an interior psycho-emotional perception, will there be a mind reader to say when there is real fear or actually none? And, what makes fear extraordinary? What degree or gravity should it have? How many—children and youth, men, women and old folks—should harbor fear to make this extraordinary?
And what is the panic contemplated by the law? How much panic should there be among how many people of what age, sex and status? What about panic caused by fear with no real basis? What is the gauge or measure used for panic to be qualified as extraordinary? How intense and pervasive should the panic be, to make this extraordinary?
Furthermore, who decides what is fear and panic, and what make them extraordinary or otherwise. Questions and doubts are not pleasant to hear. But truth and reality do raise valid questions and reasonable doubts about the interpretation and application of the above cited provision—which is but one element of the security act of 2007.
The fact of the matter is even a most clear and very simple law can be dangerous when invoked and applied by a public authority of dubious mentation and/or with devious intention. This is the more true when a law under question and doubt is the subject matter.
No sane person would love a terrorist nor promote terrorism. But every reasonable individual should watch against seeing a terrorist when there is none, pointing at terrorism when this is non-existent.
22 February 2007