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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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.
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| From The Beginning...well, I Already Have My Purse Checked When I... ||Oct 1st. at 5:06:38 pm EDT|
|Bethy (Staten Island, New York US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
From the beginning...Well, I already have my purse checked when I go into the nearby Barnes and Noble, but that may be because it's a prominent building in New York City. The guy just glances, doesn't really care as long as it doesn't look too obviously a weapon or a bomb. I expect to have some things checked, especially if I travel.
However, I don't think that the government should read my email, listen to my phone calls, or any of that. Being a citizen of the US mean being able to express my opinion, without government watch or interference.
I don't believe there should be profiling of suspected terrorists. Yes, use all the information that is availble, but just because someone is of Arab descent or a Muslim doesn't mean they are a terrorist. The guy who sells me my bagel ever morning is nervous--and has every reason to be, because he fits the profile, but he is here just to do better for himself and his family.
I don't know what can really be done to prevent another attack, but I don't think that suspending rights is the way to do it. Ashcroft scares me--I think if he could, the US would be modeled on a Nazi regime. I don't want to be asked "Where are your papers?" at every turn!
I love this country, but some of the blind nationalism and fervor for more rules frightens me. The people who would deport all immigrants and anyone of Arab or Middle Eastern origin really scare me. The strength of our country is in our ability to bring diverse people together--let's not change now what has worked for a long time.
| No!!! I Absolutely Would Not Give Up Any Of My Civil Liberties... ||Oct 1st. at 6:26:10 pm EDT|
|Christin Randall (Sandpoint, Idaho US) ||Age: 20 |
NO!!! I absolutely would not give up ANY of my civil liberties to feel "safe." I will NOT stand for any attempts made by anyone to violate them. It will not make us safer. It will actually put us in more danger. It will start us down that slippery (and very short) slope to fascism. And you better believe I will fight it tooth and nail!
| What Are We Talking Here? By Living In This Country And Agreeing... ||Oct 1st. at 7:03:55 pm EDT|
|Gonzo (Monterey, California US) ||Age: 53 - Email |
What are we talking here? By living in this country and agreeing to abide by its laws we have already surrounded up some rights. Try driving around with out a license or flying a plane or a boat without being able to prove you have taken the required classes. And in these areas to agree to certain controls is not only right it is responsible. This knee jerk, ÔNo neverismŐ makes no logical sense if it is solely passion driven. It is the act of a child digging its heeds for no other reason than it can. Having said that I will say I donŐt want to give up any more personal freedoms and feel we have had too many taken away already. By a government responding to meddling citizens. Would I give a guard permission to search my luggage at an airport? Yes, if everyone elseŐs is searched as well, that is for my own protection and in my self-interest. Would I want the government to tap into my personal phone calls? No, because I donŐt trust any government to stop once it starts because all governments are comprised of people, usually the sort who like power. Yes, we have to strike a balance in what we are willing to put up with in the interest of self preservation and what is repugnant to out sense of liberty. But that balance must be based on some for of logic that will stand a little discussion. Otherwise it has to more value than a willful childŐs pout.
| We Have To Understand That There Is A Distinction Between Actual Civil... ||Oct 1st. at 9:07:24 pm EDT|
|Barbara Fisher (Columbia, Maryland US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
We have to understand that there is a distinction between actual civil rights and the "rights" that we are used to.
There are some folks I know complaining that the new rule in NYC that says that cars entering Manhattan between the hours of 6am and noon must have more than one passenger in order to ease the burden of traffic from the security checkpoints around the city and the fact that large chunks of the streets in Manhattan are still closed is an unconstitutional breach of civl rights. They are claiming that it is unconstitutional to stop and check all trucks, buses and commercial vehicles for explosives, hazardous materials and other dangerous goodies used by terrorists to blow up things like bridges and tunnels. I did some research on this issue, and found out that what is going on in NYC is legitimate, and perfectly Constitutional, and there is precedent for it legally.
I have heard all sorts of fear-mongering and rumors from some individuals who live in the city, that city officials will impound a person's car for trying to drive into the city alone during the restricted hours, when in fact, the policy is to warn them, or turn them back the first time, and deny them passage, and to ticket them the second time, and allow the passage. I have heard that the NYC officials started these searches while telling the public that there had been no specific threats to security, when in fact, Attorney General Ashcroft and Mayor Guiliani have said that there have been significant threats of further attacks, possibly in the form of truck or car bombs. The sheer fact that most of the recent terrorist attacks on US soil and against US assets elsewhere in the world have been in the form of truck bombs should give people the clue to shut the hell up and understand that there is no guaranteed Constitutional right to drive anywhere at any time you like in any way you like. Driving is not a right, it has never been a right: it has always been a priviledge, which can be revoked at any time that the government deems necessary for the safety of the driver and those who are also on the road with the driver.
We also do not have the Constitutional right to get onto a plane within one hour of arriving at the airport. Hell yes, I would like better security at our airports. In fact, I would voice that I would actually like some -real- security at our airports. Stuff like they have had in Europe for years. I have been searched.....at Heathrow in London. And it didn't bother me a bit. It isn't like they are feeling you up, for Gaia's sake, people. Law abiding citizens have nothing to hide, do we? What's the problem? I don't have problems with security in places like concerts or sporting events either. It is only logical. It isn't like they are stopping us from peacefully assembling, are they? They are just making sure we are actually assembling in a peaceful manner, devoid of guns, knives and bombs.
Civil rights are those things enumerated in the Bill of Rights, people. How many Americans know what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights actually says? In my informal investigations on the matter, not very damned many do. I suggest that everyone who is so against us losing our civil rights go out and actually read and understand the Consititution and make certain that what you are getting so het up about is actually a right and not a priviledge.
As for telling people I am a Pagan, well, hell yes, I tell people I am a Pagan. I don't figure that our government is building the concentration camps as we speak, and if they are, well, I guess I am doomed anyway, because my Paganosity is tattooed right on my skin, for all to see, if you have sense enough to look. Why lie? Why be afraid to tell what I am? What good is that?
I am more afraid for my Islamic neighbors than I am for myself and more so from other Americans than from the Government. Bush, for all that I don't like the man, has been very careful to explain that Islamic American citizens are still CITIZENS and has been good about getting the message out that hate crimes against them would be dealt with harshly. So, I don't figure he is fitting up the concentration camps for them, either.
As for the bill that Ashcroft has before Congress to grant broader powers to investigators, it has serious opposition on both the left and the right, and everyone is negotiating the issue. You know that bipartisanship is a real thing when Rep. Bob Barr (remember him....just last year he was the anti-Pagan bogeyman who wanted us out of the military, a movement that failed miserably) and Edward Kennedy are both calling for serious restrictions on the bill as it stands, both of them citing the fact that they don't want American citizens to lose thier Constitutional rights.
Another thing I wanted to address was all this talk about all of these Christians running about talking about God and all the "God Bless America" that seems to be driving Pagans to distraction. First of all, didn't -we- turn to our Deities when this happened? I -know- I did. What do you expect Christians, who -are- a majority in our society, whether we like that or not, to do in a time of stress? Convert? No....they are going to start going to church in droves, as happens with all religious people in times of stress. As for "God Bless America, " it happens to be my absolute least favorite patriotic song, not because of the words, but because of the woman who made it popular. Kate Smith, I think was her name....the woman with a machine-gun vibrato whose voice is as soothing as a chainsaw. Doesn't matter who sings that song, I hear it in her voice, and thus shudder and tune it out. But I don't think it is a Christian conspiracy to make us all uncomfortable. They are just trying to make themselves feel better. They pray, we pray, everyone prays in thier own way, its all good.
Patriotism tends to make me nervous in any case, but it is to be expected now, and so I do my thing to get the word out. Around where I live I have seen a lot of banners around hanging over overpasses on I 95. Lots of them say "God Bless America!" Or, USA All The Way. I decided to do some that say, One Nation, Many Faiths, All Americans, with the religious symbols of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Neo-Paganism painted underneath. Its my way of being patriotic without being a jingoistic mindless flag-waving part of the crowd.
Look, I think people need to stop being so fearful. Sure I was scared shitless when this first happened, as were we all. As we should be....that was a damned scary event. But, listen, it is true: we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Let's not let our fears blind us or paralyze us. We need to keep vigilant, yes, and make certain that we don't lose our rights, but we also have to educate ourselves in what exactly those rights are. We need to keep speaking out, both in a critical fashion, against our government, when we believe it is doing something wrong, but we also should remember to praise our officials when they are doing something right. Which, is something that I, personally, cynic that I am, sometimes forget to do, especially when it comes to the government.
If we become afraid of flying, afraid of admitting who we are, afraid of all the Christians, afraid of the terrorists, afraid of the government, what good is that? At that point, we have let the terrorists win, and we might as well throw in the towel.
To me, this crisis has taught me something that I have known all along, but well, didn't think about every day until a few weeks ago, when I watched 6, 000 people lose thier lives in a big flash as The Tower tarot card came alive on my television screen. Life is precious, and precarious, and we never know the day when Death will come for us. It is finite, and always has been, and always will be. We, then, should not waste our time with fear.....we should realize that we have to go out and live our dreams now. Write that book today. Sing that song this minute, and love as much as our hearts can allow, because tomorrow may never come.
Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe diem.
| At The Airport, Violate All My Rights To Privacy If You Have... ||Oct 1st. at 10:35:21 pm EDT|
|Ursula (St. Louis, Missouri US) ||Age: 26 |
At the airport, violate all my rights to privacy if you have to. Search my luggage, fingerprint me, whatever. As I move away from the airport, however, my willingness to live in a police state decreases. Of course, I'm a stay-at-home mother, I live in a small midwestern city, and I feel relatively safe--for now. As for being a pagan, I find there actually is more tolerance for white americans with different perspectives as there is less tolerance for Muslims in my area. Of course, I've never really had any trouble.
If things escalate, in my mind, civil liberties/rights will be curtailed severely. The only fear I have about that is the idea that they wouldn't be restored.
| I Will Let My Pal Ben Franklin Speak For Me In This... ||Oct 1st. at 10:51:33 pm EDT|
|Jason Pitzl-Waters (Champaign, Illinois US) ||Age: 28 |
I will let my pal Ben Franklin speak for me in this case,
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."-Ben Franklin
Couldn't have said it better myself.
| The Real Question Is Not About Civil Rights, But Rather What We... ||Oct 1st. at 11:14:34 pm EDT|
|Kea Erisdottir (Frederick, Maryland US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
The real question is not about civil rights, but rather what we teach our children about what it means to be a citizen in a civilized and reviled nation in times when war is immanent.
It is apparent that many of our children have been a fed a line about safety, and that is a travesty left over from the days of the Great Depression, when Roosevelt promised the sun, the moon, and the stars to the people, and a LOT of laws and government programs that were struck down, properly, in the courts. We still live with the legacy of his misdeeds and 9-11-01 will undoubtedly bring us face to face with the question of fear, and what we do in the face of it.
If the answer is to give up the freedoms that our ancestors in the US died for, just so you can feel a little safer, for a little while, then never get on an airplane, go to a shopping mall, or any place where large numbers gather, because no matter the security in place, or the precautions taken, you will still not be 'safe', because that safety is an illusion. Period.
If the answer is to follow pied pipers of our own faith who talk a lot more about getting angry and engage in what amounts to magickal attacks on the villians of their choice, then you're going to find yourself much more part of the problem than part of its solution. We need Evolution, not Revolution, and you don't get that by walking up to your neighbor and punching him in the nose.
If the answer is to sit back and wait for someone else to protect your right to be secure in your home, person, property, possessions, and papers, then those who inspired and funded the hijacking of those planes have already won.
I'm not worried about being what I am. I AM worried about people who think that we should surrender our voices to the collective, and are willing to go to great and violent lengths to enforce a pagan party line about all of this. My Lady made me free, and I intend to stay that way.
| Hmn.. I Think Also Comes Down To Trust. And I Don't Trust... ||Oct 2nd. at 12:14:48 am EDT|
|Gwendolyn Ann (Concord, California US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I think also comes down to trust. And I don't trust those in power with my civil liberties.
I'm the sort of person that isn't wanted. Aside from being wiccan, I am a lesbian. And a transgendered woman. I already am at the far end of the pool when it comes to rights and liberties. I also live without much sense that my government is concerned with my safety.
What few civil liberties I have were hard to come by, and aren;t likely to reappear if I lose them. If I am willing to give them up, then I should not have them in the first place.
| We Are In A State When We Are Taught That We Live... ||Oct 2nd. at 1:54:50 am EDT|
|Christopher Bingham (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
We are in a state when we are taught that we live in a free country, when in fact we have always been less free than we imagine. Wars in this country (and perhaps in all countries) have always been used as a convienient excuse to supress dissent, and this one will be no exception. A *terrorist* will be what congress and and possibly an unelected bureaucrat (as in the current case of some illegal drugs) decide is a terrorist.
In the bill that was proposed (did it pass? You tell me...) in 1994, a terrorist group was defined as any group that broke the law to meet it's own ends, and anyone donating money to that organization would be in violation of the law. Worried about last year's donation to Greenpeace? You should be. How about Reclaiming - how many Reclaiming folks have been involved in civil disobediance? The crime of donating to such organization under that bill is / would be a felony.
What do you think this appointed commander-in-chief, who during a a prosperous, peaceful, election year, told the world on television that he thought that there was *too much free speech" in the US, will do with *your* right to say what you think about his policies during wartime?
The atrocity of September 11, did not somehow miraculousy impart honor to the current gang of criminals still mostly in charge from the Reagan era. These so called leaders made deals with Iran to effect the outcome of the 1980 election, traded arms for hostages, lied about it to congress and got away with it. They brought us the School of the Americas, which taught the death squads all over the world, the dirty tricks that made the Taliban. As recently as May, GW gave the Taliban $48 million dollars to stop growing poppies. There is no honor among these people, and they will stop at nothing to ensure that they and their friends control the pie.
Realize that when you say you're willing to give some of your civil liberties or rights, that the George Bushes, Oliver Norths, J Edgar Hoovers of the world are the people who get them. And our history is full of barely heard voices who working for change, paid *our* government with their lives, in *this* country, to bring us something as dangerous as the eight hour workday, the right to dissent, the right to associate.
When I was growing it would have been unthinkable to be searched by someone before going into a concert. And the times were much more volatile than now. We've let them take our freedoms little by little over the years, so much so we forget that there was a time when you didn't have to show ID to travel.
The only thing that has ever slowed the Hoovers of the world, were large groups of people of conscience, showing though action, their willingness to lay down their security and sometimes their lives to keep the government out of our bedrooms, our mail, our associations, our religious practice.
Don't let anyone tell you that being a patriot means giving up the right to speak your mind, defend yourself or associate with whomever you choose. Patriotism is indeed, the last refuge of the scoundrel
The would-be Mussolini's of our country will try to convince you that they have your best interest at heart, if you just don't complain. The history of the world shows us that they have boxcars, camps and showers for any who get in their way, if we let them think we'll do anything they say, as long as most of us are *safe*
It's not the bin Ladens of the world that keep me awake in my darker moments - bin Laden and his people might as well be dust at this point, because the entire world will deal with his ilk - it's the faceless career men, sure of doing their patriotic best, that scare the sh*t out of me.
| I Won't Quote Ben Franklin Again, But I Have To Say I... ||Oct 2nd. at 10:09:17 am EDT|
|Talene (Houston, Texas US) ||Age: 34 |
I won't quote Ben Franklin again, but I have to say I agree with his words. Ultimately, noone can ever guarantee our safety, no matter how many of our civil rights they take away in the attempt. What gets taken away in times of crisis might not come back even in a time of peace. I prefer to be free and responsible for my own safety than enslaved in someone else's control-freak fantasy of what safety means.
| I Think That Now That We Are 3 Weeks Into What Is... ||Oct 2nd. at 10:41:02 am EDT|
|Sabrann (Milledgeville, Georgia US) ||Age: 25 |
I think that now that we are 3 weeks into what is being referred to as the "New America" we have to understand that some "rights" are going to be challenged.
That does not mean that I am for it however.
Personally, Where I come from , I HAVE no other choice BUT, to wear my pentagram under my shirt. I wear it every day, I cherish it and when things get tough, I know it is near.
However, unlike other religions, I know that if I wear it out, there will be trouble.
My biggest fear is that we are going to be barcoded or whatever and tracked wherever we go.
I also fear that we are going to go through a new version of the "Burning Times". We may not be hung, we may not be tortured through tests but, we will be ostrisized and treated differently and hurtfully. If they take this into effect with Nation ID's whose to say that they will not track us justifing it for National Security.
In the south, different is not good and just excepted....we have had to fight for everything thing we have down here.
Especially in the small towns, so, where do we go ? What are we to do ?
Whom do we turn to ? Well, I can think of one thing that will happen, that "broom closet" we are debating on coming out of is going to get some new furniture and be made a little more cozy til there is proof that nothing harmful will happen.
It may sound stupid, but nowhere is safe anymore.
That safety is gone but, the fear of the unknown has gotten bigger and I just hope that the goddess will grant us the strength to bare this burden along with ALL the rest.
| I Think Ben Franklin Said It Best: " Any Person Who Is Willing... ||Oct 2nd. at 1:51:28 pm EDT|
|Thomas (Ocala, Florida US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I think Ben Franklin said it best: " Any person who is willing to trade their freedom for safety, will have neither."
I teach language arts and this question has been asked many times in the past two weeks. My reply to my students is always the same: We can never BE safe. We can only hope for a peaceful existence and hapy life. That life involves risks. I do not trust ANY government who offers me safety at the price of my freedoms.
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