Perhaps you’ve had it happen to you. Someone cuts you off on the road, and you hit your horn. Maybe you are a mordant polemicist by profession and, out of habit, lean on the horn a little too long. The car stops. The driver—always a woman, in my experience; an infuriated male will simply threaten to kill you—jumps from the car in a rage, pulls out her phone, and snaps a picture of your license plate and then one of you. She screams at you for a few minutes about the hurtful effects of getting aggressively beeped at, or whatever, returns to her car, and drives off.
I thought of such a situation when I recently read the results of a Cato Institute survey. The survey asked people between the ages of 18 and 29: “Would you favor or oppose the government installing surveillance cameras in every household to reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity?” Nearly 30 percent of respondents indicated that they would “favor” such a measure.
The result was revelatory, and not just of an astonishing desire to invite “Big Brother” into the home. What the finding exposed was the chaos of dysfunctional freedom in which the country is flailing. The urge to film a driver who has slighted you, thus invoking an authority to whom the incriminating video could be shown, is identical to the urge to have an authority monitoring your most private moments to fend off and prosecute threats to your physical well-being. In both cases, an expansion of entitlements—the right to do whatever you want behind the wheel and the right to accuse and condemn—coincides with a demand for protection: Act on the documented evidence, now!