Pubdate: [Sat, 21 Dec 1996]
Source: Skagit Valley Herald (WA)
Author: Clark Battle

Your Dec. 11 letter, "Teen Drug Use: The testing has worked," has
prompted me to write.

Burlington-Edison High School's policy of requiring mandatory drug
testing for students wishing to participate in extracurricular
activities has a terrible hidden price attached to it. It serves to
demonstrate to children that their constitutional rights are optional in
the eyes of the governing body.

Once citizens become accustomed to abandoning their privacy and dignity
for the sake of political hysteria, it is not long before even more
intrusive measures are seen as justifiable policy. One school in
Minnesota has already instituted random locker searchse with
drug-sniffing dogs. Can random strip searches be far off?

The biggest tragedy here is not the increase in teen drug use, but the
degree to which we are willing to abandon our hard-won constitutional
rights. If the students had been taught the value of their liberty and
learned of the millions of lives sacrificed to obtain it, then this
policy might not have been so complacently accepted by those who don't
know what it really represents. Maybe then they would have understood
the relevant meaning of Benjamin Franklin's often cited quote: "They
that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve
neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of
Pennsylvania, 1759.

Clark Battle
Secane, Pa