[E]ven in most of the worst tyrannies, those who are content with the status quo and who refrain from meaningfully challenging prevailing power systems are free of punishment. Rights exist to protect dissidents and those who challenge orthodoxies, not those who acquiesce to those orthodoxies or support state power; the latter group rarely needs any such protections. The effect, and intent, of this climate of fear is to force as many citizens as possible into the latter group.
The true measure of how free a society is how its dissidents are treated, not those who refrain from meaningful anti-government activism and dissent. To apply that metric to the US, just look at what the American citizens quoted in this Times article this morning are saying and doing.
Laptop seizures by US government highlight 9/11-era climate of fear
I can't think of anything to add, other than that if I had ten dollars for every American who doesn't understand this, I could buy my own island, and not have to worry if there weren't enough who give a damn anymore.
I think the rest of the article is worth reading, by the way, because it shows how our government tries to intimidate dissenters into being quiet nowadays. It's an object lesson in why the Bill of Rights exists, and why when "the people" cannot "be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures", there really is no such thing as freedom any longer.
And I will note that the things Greenwald describes in that article have almost exclusively happened during the Obama Administration. This is yet another reason when people tell me what responsible adults they were for voting for Barack Obama this year, that I am not always successful in suppressing the urge to tell them to go screw themselves and the brain-dead horse they rode in on.