Be concerned about the rights you think have nothing to do with you, Strossen says.
Question: What should Americans be most concerned about?
Nadine Strossen: I would say that you need to be concerned about violations of rights that you might think have nothing to do with you because they are only affecting those other people in particular, non-citizens, people who are accused of terrorism, people whose ideas you dislike, people you dislike and so you think what does it matter to me if their rights are being violated. What does it matter if government is invading privacy? Oh, I have nothing to hide. Why should I care? My message is you do care. I mean you must care. You have an absolutely profound stake in the government's power and abuse of power because once it can exercise that power against anyone, then no one is safe and I can give you so many examples of people including conservative Republican government officials who said why do we need a Bill of Rights? Why do we need the ACLU to enforce it? You are going to be accused of anything if you are not guilty. Your privacy isn't going to be invaded unless there is some reason to suspect you and then something happens in their lives and they do find themselves on the wrong side of the law unjustifiably. This happened with a couple of people for example in the Regan administration including his attorney general Ed Meese, who was being suspected or investigated for some kind of…I can't remember what it was…some kind of…I don’t even want to say it…but some kind of fraud I believe and he was ultimately never indicted, but he was suspected and suddenly sort of got the civil liberties religion and said when you are on the other side of the law, you suddenly do understand the importance of having these rights. So, I don’t want people to have to reach that point before they understand how essential it is that they never will be in that position.
Recorded On: 2/14/08