I went to see the Wachowsky brothers' V is for Vendetta yesterday, and like their first Matrix movie, it made a strong impression on me. You have to give them credit for asking us to open our minds, to do things that might free us from fear, though you also have to ask why they choose to do it through the Hollywood system.
V is from a comic book, one I was not familiar with before the movie; I don't know the details of the comic book and will only talk about the movie. It is set in a future Britain, one that has survived a period of war that drove the "former U.S." into a state of emergency. Britain has survived in the same way Germany and Japan survived before and during World War II: by turning their freedoms over in return for protection, protection from real, imagined, and fabricated threats. There is a Hitler-like figure, there are curfews, there are sinister comments about what was done to Ireland.
It hasn't gotten that bad here, there is no denying that. Tenured professors are let go for speaking out against the war, agents who speak against the administration are outed, wiretaps on average citizens are "required for national security," but, yes, I still can walk around at night and am allowed to meet with friends, unlike some countries in the world. I can even carry a concealed weapon now in Kansas (I could have in California when I lived there, too), whatever good that will do me. And so perhaps these lack of freedoms do not affect me.
I think a lot of people say this. "If radical terrorists are plotting an attack on some government building, I want there to be FBI/CIA/Homeland Security folks watching out for me, listening in on those wiretaps, and catching those lawbreakers. I've never gotten worse than a speeding ticket, so I don't have anything to worry about." Not now, no. But just like grunge rock, the fringe often turns into the mainstream; it may take time, but first a person against war on general principal is taken down, then someone against pre-emptive war, then those against economically unfeasible war, then those against a war that have a huge cost in terms of American lives.