The Freest Country on Earth

Where else besides the freest country on Earth can a sporting event turn an entire city into an open-ended military presence:

With Super Bowl festivities swinging into full gear, so have the massive security measures that have lent downtown Minneapolis a distinctly military ambience.

Police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs patrol skyways and downtown streets. Rifle-toting deputies in Army fatigues and helmets stand watch over Nicollet Mall, which has been swamped with visitors to the Super Bowl Live event. Video feeds from 2,000 cameras are monitored in a law-enforcement command center near U.S. Bank Stadium.


In the time it took Lisa Cook to walk across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to her job downtown, she had counted two “convoys” consisting of three “armored vehicles and a variety of marked and unmarked vans and trucks,” along with dozens of officers from departments around the metro, she said.


There are unseen elements, too: snipers perched on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places around downtown and plainclothes officers blending into crowds. A reporter visiting Nicollet Mall on Monday was approached by a plainclothes officer identifying himself as “NFL security,” who asked why the reporter was taking photographs and asked to see his media credentials.

It’s rather fascinating to me that so many people living here in the United States still consider themselves among the freest people on Earth. While the Bill of Rights; with its guarantee of press freedoms, free speech, the right to bear arms, etc.; certainly looks impressive, it is little more than a fiction. All of the so-called rights describe in that document can be revoked by the government at its whim. Consider the reported mentioned in the above excerpt. What if he didn’t have press credentials? My guess would be that he would have been removed. I’m also fairly certain that your right to free speech is pretty limited in Minneapolis at the moment, especially around the building hosting official Super Bowl events. Your right to bear arms isn’t going to get past the military goon squads that have setup the various checkpoints.

I’m fond of saying that your rights end where a politician’s perception of safety begins. An addendum to that is that your rights also end when a multibillion dollar organization decides to host an event in your area.