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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,356,429  

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Reponses: 69

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Question of the Week: 61 - 10/8/2001

Are You Willing To Give Up Some Civil Liberties To Be Safe?

Increased domestic security is on everyone's minds these days and the U.S. government has already begun implementing more restrictive security screenings than most Americans can ever remember seeing before. As the news continues to report on the likelihood of more terrorist attacks including chemical and/or biological agents, how safe do YOU feel? Would you be willing to undergo searches of your person and/or belongings at airports? How about personal searches at sporting events or when entering a mall? Are you willing to allow the government to read your email, listen in on your telephone conversations, track your web surfing habits, inquire into your membership affiliations or restrict your ability to meet in groups (say at a large Pagan festival or open circle) in order to feel more safe? Is there a point where you would draw the line at surrendering your civil rights? (Did you notice that the media when referring to the idea usually use the word 'liberties' instead of 'rights'?) Are you a little more nervous about being known as a Pagan these days?

 Reponses:   There are 69 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Merry Met. Once Again, Another Tough Question, But Not One Without A... Sep 30th. at 9:49:11 pm UTC

Aezrael Auraelus (Bartlesville, Oklahoma US) Age: 32 - Email

Merry Met. Once again, another tough question, but not one without a clear answer. First and foremost, lets call them what they are...Our Rights. I am not willing to trade ANY freedom for safety. It's human nature to assure ourselves of the safety of our loved ones, but in today's society nothing is safe. There have always been risks, and there will be risks no matter what precautions we take. Risk is what makes life precious. The uncertainty of what life will bring us from day to day are the lessons in life we need to learn. There is a reason for everything. To quote Amber K, "...Daylight breaks, and the world changes. The world changes us, and we change the world. We dance the dance of daylight..." America was founded on the principal of freedom...freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. You ask me to sacrifice just one of those freedoms so that I feel safe? I would rather face the threat of biological war. I stress to every American that when they start taking freedoms, America ceases to exist. What's next? Freedom of think?

This Is One Of The Tough Ones...and One I've Been Thinking... Sep 30th. at 9:56:22 pm UTC

Jenavira (Pella, Iowa US) Age: 17 - Email

This is one of the tough ones...and one I've been thinking about a lot lately. As someone still pretty solidly in the broom closet, and one who's had issues lately with school administration on freedoms of speech and dress, my opinions are going through a lot of stress. In times like these, it is understandable to give up certain rights...the same way that, in ordinary times, we give up the right to make jokes about bombs in an airport. Take, for example, the list of "reccomendations" that ClearChannel sent out to radio stations of songs that it would be in bad taste to play. Some of them I firmly agreed with - to hear U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" unexpectedly would have been a painful thing. But by now, I think the time for that list is over. For the most part, we can deal now with songs that remind us of the tragedy.

That is the biggest issue with giving up any rights in concession to public safety...while understandable when the threat is urgent, the rights must be given back in full when the threat is over. Unfortunately, it's easier to take them away than give them back, just as it is more difficult to decide when the threat is over than to decide when it is urgent enough to merit such measures. In short - no, I can't condone the loss of personal liberties, even in these circumstances. It opens up doors that would be better left locked.

The Problem With Giving Up Civil Liberties, For Any Reason, Especially Security... Sep 30th. at 11:55:46 pm UTC

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 59 - Email

The problem with giving up civil liberties, for any reason, especially security,
poses the serious situation of trying to regain them.

Govt. just does not return a power over the citizen, once granted. I think Income Tax was a war measure for WW I. The Kaiser is long dead, so why have not civil liberties from before that time been returned?

Did the Govt. protect citizens from the dangers on the frontier? No, it didn't.
Why is it the normal American Citizen has become so use to peace, prosperity and domestic pax, that he/she can not take care of his/her own security?

America has become a bloated empire, waiting for the barbarians.

Speaking of security issues, I read a rant by Issac Bonewitz about a "Call To Arms", recently put on the net. At every national emergency, kooks come out of the woodwork pushing a particular agenda.

Issac is calling for a "Pagan" war on fundamentalism, per se. However, the diatribe and bombast sounded just like the fundy fools I find on other "religious"
talk boards; the kind who want to nuke Islam, and banish Pagans from the human race for not being xtian.

General kookiness makes one a red flag for "Security" watch-dogs, itself.
For "security" resons, it may be prudent for Pagans to distance themselves from
extremists of all sorts. BB

This Terrible Attack On 9-11-01 Has Shocked The Nation, Pagans... Oct 1st. at 1:40:13 am UTC

Silver Moon Gazer (Wichita, Kansas US) Age: 32 - Email

This terrible attack on 9-11-01 has shocked the nation, Pagans included. We, as Pagans, are very sensitive to the subject of civil liberties. So, it does not surprise me that this question has been raised.

I feel that Americans should be willing to support our government in the attempts to tighten national security against terrorism. This isn't really a question of phone calls and web surfing, but more control over our airports, transit systems and other common targets for terrorist attacks. These people are attacking the very thread of American life; FREEDOM. Our freedom to rule ourselves and to choose if and what religion we follow. Freedom of religion is unique to this country and one of the beliefs this nation was built on. If we enjoy the freedom to be practicing Pagans and the freedom to attend open meetings, then we had better be prepared to defend that freedom and support those who serve to defend that freedom.

I do not feel that tighter security is meant to limit our rights, but instead, to ensure that we all may safely continue to enjoy our rights.

This Is A Good Question. There Is A Difference Between The Taking... Oct 1st. at 1:57:52 am UTC

Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 53 - Email

This is a good question. There is a difference between the taking of reasonable precautions for safety, and the obsessive quest to be totally safe. Nothing in this life is or can be 100% safe. We take a risk getting out of bed, and we take a risk staying there. I would imagine that the people who board a plane would not mind increased baggage checks, and what have you if it meant that the chance of having a terrorist onboard were minimized.

There are things that can be done to reduce the risks of such events taking place. It may well be that such things are a sad fact of life in these times. But when you talk of creating ideological litmus tests, phone and internet surveillance, and the like, you are getting onto a dangerous slippery slope, the end result of which might well result in complete loss of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" that is one of the founding ideals of the United States that sets it apart from other repressive regimes.

There needs to be identified, a division between the need to protect the public safety, and the preservation of a way of life. There can be precautions taken to maximise the former, but it has to be recognised that even if we all lock ourselves into some kind of fortress, we cannot be 100% safe.

Protecting a way of life, however presents us with a much greater and more complex series of challenges. We as a nation ( I include myself because even though I live in New Zealand, I am still an American) are founded on the sacredness of liberty and the need to defend that liberty from the clutches of tyranny. The entire American system of government was founded on a mistrust of placing unbounded power in any one set of hands. Ultimately, the power of government has to lie in the hands of its citizenry.

The aspects of the American way of life that we hold dear, depend on not allowing any sort of tyranny to take hold. Sadly, liberty has been made to equate in the minds of some, freedom with materialistic consumerism. But as it was in the beginning, it was toward the end of protecting the rights of each individual to follow the dictates of their conscience, to follow their path of belief, whatever that might be, without persecution so long as it didn't interfere with the rights of other citizens to do likewise.

If we were to take away these fundamental rights from our people, so quintessentially ironically, so that we might protect our way of life, then we will have done what no terrorist could ever do: We will have destroyed the America who's ideals have been the touchstone of democratic and libertarian thought worldwide, and replaced it with the very tyranny that the Founding Fathers, and Founding Mothers worked, fought, bled and died to prevent.

The line needs to be drawn firmly and indelibly where safety and security ends and persecution and tyranny begins. Having drawn that line, we MUST do all we can to ensure that we not allow our nation to cross that line. We must not allow ourselves to become enslaved by the tyranny of fear.

When the desire for an impossible safety is driven by fear of all that is different, the possibility exists of an "Ethnic/Cultural/Religious cleansing that would be far more frightening than anything that some terrorists could dream up for us. There is no tyranny that could ever harm us like the one that giving in to fear would create. That is the tyranny that we must not allow to triumph, the one that lurks inside our minds. I believe fear is the ultimate tyranny. May we have the wisdom and good fortune to defeat the tyrant.

Blessings and Light

When It Comes To Airport/transportation Security And Security At Large Venues... Oct 1st. at 2:42:56 am UTC

Brandy Autumnfirelight (Fort Myers/Lehigh Acres, Florida US) Age: 25 - Email

When it comes to airport/transportation security and security at large venues like sporting events and concerts , I think proper security is whats needed. Properly trained and paid security.Not country club gate security guards that make less than a 15 year old McDonalds fry cook.I would even support a law enforcement branch designed just for airport and transportation security.Airports in particular have had the need for tighter security for a long time.Everybody should be searched equally.To me thats just common sense.As long as that type of security stays at the airports, borders and ship ports where it belongs.
The government has no right to know what I do , who I do it with or why I do it. I certainly do not think any of my rights as a free American should be hindered in the name of national security. I thought those so called "voluntary lists" sent out to radio stations were absurd and frightening. Bill Mahers Politically Incorrect was and is pretty much black listed now just because something may be said on his show that goes against the propaganda machine.I have no intentions on giving the government an inch of my freedom, because they will take a mile and keep running.We have something very precious, don't let the media and the governments propaganda scare you into giving up your freedom.

Can I Just Comment On This As A European Who Has Lived... Oct 1st. at 4:28:27 am UTC

Jacquie Clapperton (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) Age: 40

Can I just comment on this as a European who has lived with the threat of terrorism all her life? We do live with a higher level of security at all times but this can be seen as gaining a greater freedom - of living your life in safety. Perhaps we do have a different mindset; gunlaws are readily accepted here and endorsed by the various gun associations as being for the greater good of society in filtering out the "nutters" as much as possible. In Scotland we do have that attitude that you are also responsible for the good of others too. Our airport security is high, even on domestic flights. A colleague commented that security was stricter at Edinburgh for her domestic connection than it was at New York for her international flight. I recently went into our parliament building to pick up a video; because the metal detector door had been set off (probably by my jewellery - pentagram perhaps!) I had to be searched and I also had to turn out my bag because something odd-shaped had shown up on the x-ray. This sort of thing is a fact of life and you just laugh about it - "can I have the cute guy search me?" etc. So what if a security guard wants to see in my shopping bag; I don't have anything to hide and it might help deter the bombers. Too many innocent people have died already, including children out shopping for Mother's Day cards in Warrington at the hands of the IRA. We're not overly restricted by our security; we live with it but fight tooth and nail against being spied on by the government. Yes, more police are out on our streets lately but they are there to protect the public, particularly the mosques, against idiots. Innocents of all religions died last month. Higher security per se is not necessarily restrictive and doesn't automatically lead to a slippery slope to totalitarianism.

Being Married To A Former Officer Of The Navy, I Can Safely... Oct 1st. at 8:34:44 am UTC

Rowan O'Rielly (Houston, Texas US) Age: 28

Being married to a former officer of the Navy, I can safely say that I know my phone lines might already be tapped and that my internet use is being monitered.
My husband held a classified rank in the Navy, and we expected these things to happen after the attacks on 9/11/01. (in which we lost friends who worked in the Pentagon, including my godfather) What we don't expect is to be subject to regular searches like cold war U.S.S.R., or Nazi Germany style. Give up your rights and you will never get them back. With a fundy president in office you can expect we will be the second group to go to the internment camps. The first will be the Muslims. If you don't belive it ask any Japanese-American over the age of 60 where they were in the Forties. The Fifties were not that much better.
These are our RIGHTS we are talking about, not libereties. I love my country, I just don't trust my goverment.

Airport Searches -- Yes. Sporting Events -- Yes. (hey, I'm From Jersey...all The... Oct 1st. at 9:34:04 am UTC

Ciarrai (Piscataway, New Jersey US) Age: 34 - Email

SPORTING EVENTS -- Yes. (Hey, I'm from Jersey...all the NYC and Jersey events that I've attended I've already been profiled at anyway.)
SHOPPING MALLS -- Well, if I'm carrying a bag from another department store and I need to check it to make sure I'm not lifting anyway, well, then: yes. Upon entrance for no good reason: no.
E-MAIL & TELEPHONE -- I work for one of the top ten Fortune 500 companies. An old boss always told me, unless you want to read it on the front page of The New York Times, then don't bother writing it. As far as the phone goes, well, same goes. I used to work for the top brass in the godpod of my company. Cameras galore, bullet proof glass, and my favorite, the "duress" buttons under our desks. (I used to call them distress buttons...)
...HOWEVER, not at home. I can understand why my PLACE OF BUSINESS has a need to do these things and I have no objections to it. But not at home.
MEMBERSHIP AFFILIATIONS -- Gee, what a way to out myself w/out realizing it. I'm very generous to any legitimate Pagan cause and I know that my given name is on a lot of lists. C'est la vie...
PAGAN FESTIVALS -- Well, I can dig the fact that the police may find swords and athames that they might see it as a threat. Like most books says, better off leaving that stuff at home. That and the fact that a prized possession might get lifted at a festival (sad but true...)
SURRENDERING MY CIVIL LIBERTIES -- I draw the line at just about anything. Depends upon the situation. These days I just don't know. I agree with the woman that posted that said that she just didn't trust the government and she's probably right on that score.
NERVOUS ABOUT BEING A PAGAN -- Yes but I was before that.



The Place I Draw The Line Is More Or Less Where The... Oct 1st. at 9:44:17 am UTC

Jenett (St. Paul, Minnesota US) Age: 26 - Email

The place I draw the line is more or less where the Bill of Rights seems to draw the line. The right to assemble in groups *should* be protected. Likewise, I think that my personal residence (and car) and personal correspondance should have protection of privacy, and no search (or reading of email or other internet tracking) without due cause. (I don't have huge problems if there is a requirement for probably cause and a warrant or equivalent process, with evidence required, as has been the case for phone tapping for quite a while.)

However, I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to allow *courteous* searches with the presumption of innocence to start with before getting on an airline flight, going to a sports event, or going shopping, if there is a reason to expect that such searches will make my time there safer. I do not have a constitutionally granted right to fly or shop or see sports, and I think that in those cases, I can make the decision myself not to bring materials with me that might cause problems, or deal with the search, as long as that is known in advance. I do think that it's important that if searches are done, they're done politely, and for *everyone*, rather than for people who look suspicious or fit some profile.

I am still very fond of Heathrow Airport for this reason. When my mother and I were in England about 9 years ago, we were stopped to have our bags searched beyond the X-Ray check they had previously done. The people doing it were very polite, made it clear that random searches were done to allow greater security of the airport, and that they didn't do it with any kind of profiling (My mother is the quintessential gray haired old lady, complete with British accent, I was at the time in late highschool, and looked completely innocent. Both of us were tidily dressed, etc.), just some pattern involving "The next person through the door..." But the search was courteous, efficient, and I had no problems with that treatment.

I am not particularly concerned about a national ID card if it simply included the kind of information available on my driver's license (name, birthdate, photo, height/weight, address). I wouldn't mind if it included citizenship, particularly (My fiance is Canadian, we're in the final stages of the immigration process for him right now, so this is something I've been thinking about) so long as that information were not used inappropriately (i.e. to unnecessarily target resident aliens who are legally resident, as opposed to tracking down people who have stayed beyond the limits of their visa. I think the latter is a reasonable thing to be doing.) I think that such things might make it a great deal easier for people who choose not to drive (I have a couple of friends who have state issued non-drivers IDs, who have great trouble sometimes getting them accepted as valid.)

I am, however, concerned about having to reveal other information, including religious preference, social security number, membership in organizations, or medical information. Having done a lot of reading for a paper for my master's degree in Library/Information Science about the early years of the American Library Association's Committee for Intellectual Freedom, I've seen what can happen when some of those liberties get eroded, and I am quite concerned by *that* prospect.

I think that there are other ways to track the potentially 'dangerous' organizations than tracking it from the individual end (track by infiltrating a member, for example, or by figuring out where the group meets, and tracking people from there) rather than requiring that information to be available to any government official who might require the card for another reason for people who are not at all involved in a potentially dangerous group.

Safety Is An Illusion. With Due Respect To Those Who Gave Their... Oct 1st. at 11:29:23 am UTC

Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) Age: 30 - Email

Safety is an illusion. With due respect to those who gave their lives on September 11th, and their friends and families, America has been living in a bubble for quite some time. Great and terrible things happen, people die, and the living cope as best they can and move on. Frankly when one compares the great and terrible events of Rwanda, Cambodia, Chile, The West Bank and Europe in the 40's, America really has gotten off easily thus far. I think most recent events simply serve to remind us that physical life is a frail reality and that all of us are less "safe" than we suppose.

Should we willingly lay down our rights and civil liberties to fortify that illusion? Not on your life. Terrorism hides in the shadows and each one of us is physically capable of causing horrifying damage to our fellow citizens. Terrorism lives in people's hearts and the will to accomplish their act regardless of personal cost. A single individual can be a terrorist. The eradication of the terrorist impulse is, in my opinion, impossible to accomplish and to attempt to do so would require such a microscope to be applied to each individual in a society as to severely curb liberty and freedom.

I for one am not willing to grant any governing body the power to monitor my life in order to allow me a continued feeling of safety when the reality is, I have never been safe. Anyone could make me a victim at any time. All it takes is a van full of fertilzer and diesel and a good fuse. My solution is to swallow my fear and live every day as though it could be my last, with as much diginity, compassion and love as I have in me. The reality is, it very well could be.

No... Oct 1st. at 11:33:04 am UTC

Arthanea (Old Town, Maine US) Age: 22


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