It’s official: We live in a republic of fear. And when fear runs rampant, our good sense escapes us.
Photos, which spread across the city and state last week, showed two Middle Eastern-looking men accused of seeming suspicious on state ferries.
A ferry crew member (who took the photos) and the FBI (which released them) didn't lose sleep over the guilt or innocence of the men in the snapshots.
And why should they? The authorities had fear as an ally. They blithely enlisted a fearful public to do their bidding -- to be dutiful patriots and report them.
The two men in question could have been innocents on vacation. Or they could have been mistaken for another pair of dark-complexioned guys seen wandering ferries.
But they happened to fit a very broad profile -- even though the FBI says they aren't suspects.
So, why the brouhaha?
The trouble with public outings goes beyond these men being stripped of their rights to privacy. They weren't linked to a crime, such as, say, bank robbers caught on tape. They were snapping pictures and, we're told, acting too interested in vessel interiors and systems.
It is not a stretch to imagine the dangerous consequences when Uncle Sam deputizes the public. A citizen cowboy fueled by vigilantism could attempt to take the law into his own hands -- with horrific results.
Fear makes people irrational. (MORE)