Too much security?
Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson has made a good point about the security system to be put in place in the new courthouse. These days, government, particularly federal and state governments, have gone far overboard on their notion of security and forgotten about community and humanity.
The big governments seem to think every new building is an opportunity to build a fortress. This is glaringly true with our embassies in foreign countries, where the new ones literally look like impenetrable strongholds and communicate that defensiveness and coldness to all of the local denizens. It’s lousy for our reputation and absolutely communicates the wrong thing about our country to those who drive by them every day.
Since 9/11, governments have used fear as the principal tool in response to that single terrorist event. They have tried to get us to believe there are threats everywhere and that the only way to effectively deal with them is the same way that governments have responded to perceived threats for hundreds of years — physically barricade themselves from the outside. On a number of occasions I have heard individuals tell me about the fortress-like conditions at the Berkeley County Courthouse and how unfriendly it is.
Fear should not be the philosophy that dominates the new courthouse. Many of us worked to assure that this building will be a proud, appealing representation of local government and that it appropriately represents the community. Ours is a small, friendly community and the physical representation of government should also be warm and approachable. A citizen should not have to go through metal detectors and body searching to attend a commission meeting or meet with a local official.
In much larger counties, like Arlington, Va., where one could argue there is much more potential for mischief, there are no personal barriers to transacting business, so one wonders how most all of the courthouses in this state — which certainly don’t have the level of security of Berkeley County — have made it all of these years without all of the horrible things transpiring that some of our state authorities have imagined.
This is not the time to allow bureaucrats from Charleston to take away a piece of the sense of community that many of us cherish in Morgan County. If they want to live in fear, that is okay, but they shouldn’t make us do so.
John L. Petersen