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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: 22,101,727  

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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 

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.

Gwen Smith

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.

To Me, It All Boils Down To Exactly How Much The American... Oct 2nd. at 3:41:54 pm EDT

Tamara (madison, Tennessee US) Age: 21 - Email

To me, it all boils down to exactly how much the American people will take from their government until we facilitate change in that government. The government will push and pull and poke until it gets as many of our rights revoked or changed from their intended use as possible. For instance, the terrorists emailed each other frequently. Two days after the attack, emails throughout the US began being monitored. Here's a tidbit for you--the terrorists' emails were *encrypted*. So, if they can't read the terrorists emails, why are they scanning mine?

I am more afraid of the US government than I am of any overzealous religious faction.

I Kept Hearing People Saying "this Wasn't Just An Attack On America... Oct 2nd. at 4:06:01 pm EDT

Moon Dragon (San Francisco, California US) Age: 25 - Email

I kept hearing people saying "This wasn't just an attack on America, this was an attack on freedom, on liberty..." To me it just sounded like the wheels of the propaganda machine creaking back into a full spin. But those same people who said that the terrorists wanted to attack our freedom are the ones telling us we should willingly give it up.

I already live under the assumtion that I am always on camera. I assume that my phone calls are already being listened to, and that my emails are being scanned. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean I'm not being spied on. What freedoms we have left (and let's face it, we're more restricted than we'd like to believe) should not be removed in the interest of preserving freedom. I'm afraid this would be the first step to taking political prisoners, internment camps and the like.

Those of us who express dissent, those of us who do not back everything our government does, those of us who stand up for what we believe when it's not the popular belief, we will become suspect. And I am terrified of internment camps being stuffed with Arab-Americans, Muslims, and conscientious objectors. Of course, most Americans wouldn't allow such a thing, but we already know that the government simply doesn't tell us things it doesn't want us to know.

If they take one aspect of our freedom, they will take more. They will control us and say it's for our own protection. As an American, that is something I cannot stomach.

Blessed Be!

As The Goddess Is My Witness, I Will Be Willing From Now... Oct 2nd. at 5:17:47 pm EDT

Maid Marian (Burbank, California US) Age: 27

As the Goddess is my witness, I will be willing from now until the end of my life on this Mother Earth to arrive three hours early at any airport, concert or convention to have my bags searched and coat searched. I WILL draw the line at a full-body cavity search, though. I do NOT think that this is giving up any personal freedom whatsoever. I CHOOSE to fly, go to a concert or convention. With CHOICE comes responsibility - and in this case, it is my responsibility to abide by the policies set. Things have changed, period. Ben Franklin's statement is a valid one, and especially relevent now that it's pretty obvious we as Americans in general have become a little too comfortable with our easy money, our material items, our disinterest in the world - everything that makes life "safe". But I think even good old Ben would willingly and cheerfully stand in the search-line at the airport had he witnessed the atrocities of Sept 11th.

If Pagan gatherings, or any other religious gatherings (including Islamic) are forbidden or threatened in this country, of course I will be very, very angry at this DIRECT violation of every US citizen's constitutional rights. But I'm a big believer in "crossing that bridge" when I come to it, and I'm not sure there's sufficient reason to be paranoid of this at the present moment. Perhaps I'll eat my words, and I did do a scrying session on Sept 22 that told me there would be much infighting and upheavel in this country in the near future - which I initially interpreted it as fighting between civilians and within families.

That said, I live in Los Angeles - where everyone is too involved in themselves to worry about Pagan gatherings anyway. For those who live in small towns and genuinely feel threatened, I feel for you. But remember, the Goddess blessed us with human life in a world where we always have a choice - to move to a larger city where we'll be accepted, to speak out, to defend our country, to hold a variety of alligiences to our country, our religion, our families. Our government may or may not remove our civil liberties - only time will tell. But the freedom our government gives us is only one type of freedom. The strongest and more potent freedom comes from within.

Blessed Be,

Maid Marian

I Will Not Give Up My Rights, But I Am Willing To... Oct 2nd. at 6:39:35 pm EDT

Clove (Salt Lake City , Utah US) Age: 22 - Email

I will not give up my rights, but I am willing to be inconvienced. Every time I attend a concert, I expect to be patted down. People were stabbed and killed at a Slayer concert I attended in my junior high days. Patdowns and metal detectors at concerts and public events are not the result of paranoia, they are common sense.
Random searches on vehicles, homes, persons not entering a public event or venue is an invasion of privacy without probable cause and a green light to discrimnate.
I have to admit, I am more afraid of the slow erosion from within that can be caused by discrimination and prejudice than I am of terrorist attacks. A local cafe was lit on fire 9/13/01 because the owners are Muslim. Within a week of 9/11/01 over 40 hate crimes against Muslims and those of Middle Eastern ethnicity were reported in the United States.
My co-worker from Kuwait had to fly to a funeral with his 8 year old daughter this week and is afraid of the looks he may receive and comments that may be made. Not because he is ashamed of who he is, but because he doesn't want his daughter to have any shame in her ethnicity.
In summary, now that I have gone off on my own tanget, I will keep my rights. I agree to be inconvienced, so long as it does not violate my rights.

No, I'm Not Willing To Give Up My Civil Rights For The... Oct 2nd. at 6:42:06 pm EDT

Big John (South Amboy, New Jersey US) Age: 40

No, I'm not willing to give up my civil rights for the illusion of safety. First, I don't believe basic freedoms and safety are mutually exclusive. You should be able to have safety in a free society. Second, much of what is being proposed will not give us any greater safety from terrorists - but it will give the government power that will likely be misused.

Consider the national ID card now being pushed by the media. This is not a new idea. It's been talked about a lot in the past few years both here in the US and in the United Kingdom. The media has mentioned that these are "smart cards" that have a computer chip built into them. What the don't talk about much is that they are designed to work with a national database which would include a data profile on every citizen. Once a database is established your whole life can be tracked because your social security number links to your driver's license, your credit cards, your employment, and the real estate that you own. By watching your credit card purchases, tax donations, and medical benefits details on your movements, your health, your political beliefs, and your religious beliefs can be determined. There is tremendous potential for abuse here. Some of this data is already available, but it's in corporate databases. It's not directly contolled by the U.S. government - for the most part. Notice also how identity theft only became a major problem once your social security number became required for everything.

Furthermore, how is this going to make us safer from terrorists? Most of the terrorists in the world are unknown to the U.S. government. Does anyone really believe that someone willing to kill thousands of innocent people and himself in the process is going to have a problem with lying on a VISA?

There are a number of other proposals I have a problem with relating to the Anti-Terrorism Act that Attorney General Ashcroft is trying to push through Congress. Ideas like starting up a national DNA database that would have potential data on future health risks for all those sampled along with their blood relatives. Also the idea of weakening the requirements to obtain search warrants and allowing data collected by foreign governments (without U.S. constitutional protections) to be used as evidence in U.S. courts.

There is even a proposal to consider relatively benign computer hackers as terrorists. Giving them life in prison (without parole) for even discussing hacking into someone's system. This would be considered conspiracy and could affect a number of legitimate computer security people. So much for free speech!

One of the sad things about the tragedy on September 11th is that there are people who are using the public's grief, anger, and fear to further their personal agendas. Ironically, some of these liberty robbing proposals had already been submitted to Congress in the past, only to be rejected as unconstitutional. This is one of the few times many of these limits on liberty could become law. And freedoms, once lost, are very hard to win back.

FYI - The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some good information of what is being proposed. Drop by and take a look. This isn't just a Pagan issue, it's a human issue.

I leave you with the following quote from Benjamin Franklin:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Big John

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