Kris Kristofferson had it wrong in his classic song "Me and Bobby McGhee," when he wrote "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
When we wave red flags in front of the public like "war on terror" or "drug epidemic" the phrase becomes "freedom's just another word."
And apparently, it is one that has lost its meaning for many of our public officials. As far as the war on terror is concerned, at least we have a national debate on just how far we should intrude on personal freedom in the name of rooting out terrorists.
When we comes to the drug issue, people are becoming more and more willing to roll over and kiss away what personal freedoms they have. The Fourth Amendment has always been a keystone of American democracy. The schools, the very places that are designed to teach us about our freedoms, are rapidly becoming a place where students have no freedoms as far as their own bodies are concerned.
The Branson School District has become the latest to institute drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities, joining a host of schools across the country. Officials at many schools have made it clear they would like to be able to test all students, but so far the courts have only permitted testing of those who play sports or who are involved in school clubs or organizations. Branson has carried it a step further. The district will also test those who apply for parking privileges at the school. This will increase the number of students to be tested to about 60 percent.
The scariest thing about the new program is there has been little or no opposition to it. It is amazing how easily people can just toss away freedoms that have been so hard earned throughout our nation's history.
The rush toward drug testing is understandable. There is a problem among the nation's youth and school officials, just like everyone else in society, have felt helpless to deal with it. They want to do something and this is the best idea they could come up with. I can't fault their motives.
What I can fault is a program that not only violates student freedoms, but also takes the risk of keeping some students from involvement in the very activities that might keep them on the straight and narrow.
Drug testing is a band-aid approach that does not take into consideration the problems that addresses a symptom but not the root cause of the problem. When many students come from homes in which drug use is a fact of life, we have two strikes against us before we start. Isolating these children from the very activities that could save them from this environment could very well be a prescription for increasing the drug epidemic.