September 08, 2011, 1:03 PM — I like to think I'm as tolerant of other people's opinions as most other Americans.
I don't generally attribute other people's idiocy to incurable moral corruption, collusion with the forces of evil or rank stupidity.
I'm also courteous enough to wait until their backs are turned before making fun of them.
Not this time.
According to a study released Tuesday by a respected social-science research center at the University of Chicago, three out of every 10 Americans is a blind, blithering, cowardly idiot willing to give up important parts of everyone's rights to keep themselves a tiny bit safer from a threat that's largely imaginary.
The study, called "Civil Liberties and National Security: 10 Years After 9/11" was designed to quantify the opinions of Americans about how far law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the U.S. government should be allowed to go to prevent another terrorist attack like those on Sept. 11, 2001.
It reflects the opinions of almost 1,100 adults conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press.
It also reflects an astonishing acceptance of not only the possibility, but the right of government agencies to monitor all the private conversations and activities of any random American's daily business and activities.
The survey found 30 percent were willing to accept warrantless government monitoring of domestic email, while 47 percent were willing to accept it for international email.
About the same percentage thought monitoring international phone calls was acceptable, but only 25 percent said warrantless eavesdropping on domestic phone conversations was OK.
NORC and the AP sound a little smug about by how small a percentage of people said they'd be fine being surveilled at any time (or would be fine if other people were surveilled, anyway). The truth is that number is disturbingly high, even though it's less than half the percentage who realize what an outrage it is to have a functionary of an elected government spy on the citizens that elected that government.
Even Mark Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said Americans were surprisingly willing to accept the elimination of some rights in order to make terrorist investigations easier, but are now shifting away from that opinion.