The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Nov. 17, 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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| Curbside Check-in And Short Lines At The Airport Are *not* Civil Rights... ||Oct 4th. at 5:29:08 pm EDT|
|Blue Coyote (St Paul, Minnesota US) ||Age: 23 |
Curbside check-in and short lines at the airport are *not* civil rights. Flying is a privilege, a luxury, and people need to understand that their fellow-travelers' right to be safe on an airplane, bus, train, etc, supercedes their "right" to arrive at the airport 30 minutes before take-off.
Freedom of expression, religion, assembly, and the press *are* civil rights, and I will not give up a single one of those.
| All Right, I Wasn't Going To Do This, Because I Really Haven't... ||Oct 4th. at 4:45:27 pm EDT|
|email@example.com (Cape Canaveral, Florida US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
All right, I wasn't going to do this, because I really haven't quite finished formulating an opinion here. However, sometimes the process of thought can be helpful, so here goes. . .
My husband and I have been debating this fiercely, from opposite sides of the same patriotic coin. If any of you have watched the television show Babylon 5, you might remember an episode in which a young alien boy becomes ill. His species/race/family are extremely religious, and one of their beliefs is that if the body's skin is cut, the soul leaks out, and what's left is a meaningless, soulless shell. The ship's surgeon examines the child, and theorizes that surgery would save his life. The family strictly forbids it. The surgeon asks the ship's captain for permission to operate anyway, and is denied that permission out of respect for the family's beliefs. He operates anyway, and the boy's life is saved. The parents come to collect their son, and promptly kill him, as what's left is in their mind an abomination, disgraceful to the sweet, charming, obedient soul who was their son. My husband believes that if we sacrifice our freedoms, regardless of the terrorist risk, then America is as soulless as those parents believe their son was -- that our freedom makes us great and defines our national identity. In his mind, the risk we must take is not one of sacrificing our freedoms for our country, but of sacrificing our lives for our country.
My position (and I'm not sure I'm wholly at this point any longer) was that freedoms, privileges, and rights given to people unwilling to make sacrifices to protect themselves and each other are wasted. Why give me freedom if I'm not willing to give it back temporarily to protect my world? Why let me assemble with others of like mind or faith if I'm unwilling as an individual to defend my right to do so, or at least support an effort to defend the right to assembly peaceably? What I pray for on this issue is that anyone monitoring my surfing is an enlightened, freedom-loving person tolerant of the many facets of diversity which make our country strong; that anyone searching my bag should be savvy enough to catch those people who actually are trying to slip something by them.
The other thing I find it important to mention here is a comment on the nature of terrorism. In Operation Desert Storm, we made it painfully clear to our opponents that in traditional warfare, we were superior. Groups like Al Quaida (I shudder in disgust and pity just typing the name) saw this, and modified their battle plans. They made absolutely certain that they look, feel and smell individually like nonmilitary targets; and that their network is so disparate that there is no one geographic or national target. What's more, they've placed their figurehead in a country already so war-torn that any strike at him is going to seem a strike at the people he holds before him as shields. Can you imagine your own reaction the first time you see a picture of an American soldier killing an Afghan citizen who happened to be in the line of fire? The terrorists are counting on this reaction, not only from Americans, but worldwide. Combine this with the fact that their unconventional methods seek out our weaknesses and turn our own assets and people into their lethal weapons, and you begin to wonder what security measures are enough. There was a scare shortly after the attack that involved terrorists driving ambulances and fire trucks into public buildings. That warning was quickly revoked by the media -- not because it couldn't happen, but because we as Americans can't live our lives that way, wondering if the heroic people who have rescued us from tragedy time and again are now the enemy. (They aren't, never have been, and never will be, even if some fool terrorist DOES steal their vehicle.)
Another problem being discussed involves bio/chemical weaponry. In one post I saw over on www.beliefnet.com, a reader referred to (I know, it's all hearsay) a plot in which hundreds of foreign exchange students had smuggled biological agents into the country by hiding them in their body cavities, something which drug traffickers have done for years with their products. He continued to say that on a particular date, these students are supposed to unleash a biological attack on 120 American cities simultaneously. Like Ramzi Youssef's 1995 story about planes crashing into public monuments, my initial reaction was to wonder what he had been smoking -- but then I realized that however improbable, it actually was possible. What am I going to do about it? I'm going to go on living like an American, and understand that I may die today because of it.
The point of these examples is not to make us paranoid, but to illustrate that no matter how many precautions we take, no matter how high the walls we build around our country, we will still be vulnerable -- we were before September 11, and we will continue to be. Terrorists look for weaknesses, chinks in our armour, and exploit them. The only thing that has changed is our awareness/ perception level. This being said, what do we do?
We become alert and aware. One trait that many of us share is the ability to turn a blind eye and move on. After all, it's a free country -- of course that man can sit each day on the streetcorner with a sextant taking measurements of our public building! Well, the truth is that it IS a free country. But if we value it, we really can't gloss over anything anymore. If you see someone "casing" a public building, that really does need to be called in to your local authorities. When you see someone in an overcoat on a hot, sunny day at a stadium, go point it out to a security guard -- and watch to see if he takes any action or not. See someone with a flat tire in the middle of rush-hour traffic? Offer to help. I'm not saying to be suspicious of all your neighbors or to have a hidden agenda behind each good deed you do. What I am saying is that we can see now that community and interaction can serve a higher purpose than just their ostensible ones.
Obviously, I'm still very uncomfortable with this subject, and I thank anyone with the patience to have read this far, and apologize to anyone I have inadvertently offended. May we all have wisdom, foresight, and compassion in the difficult days to come. Blessed Be.
| Benjamin Franklin Warned Us About Trading Freedoms For Safety, A Warning As... ||Oct 4th. at 12:57:18 pm EDT|
|Seeker (Tonopah, Nevada US) ||Age: 0 - Email |
Benjamin Franklin warned us about trading freedoms for safety, a warning as valid today as it was over 225 years ago!
Yes, we have a problem with the media repeating government's big lie that we have'liberties', not RIGHTS. So many people, many left-leaning pagans included have seen no problem with restrictions on our second amendment rights, perhaps now some of these people understand what happens when any right is abridged?
I will take my changes in a less secure country than ever, ever, ever surrender one of my precious and uniquely American rights. Too many of us served to defend them in times of war, with many dying in the process.
| In A Word, No. I Think That A Lot Of The Call... ||Oct 4th. at 12:28:18 pm EDT|
|Aedh Rua (New Richmond, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
In a word, no.
I think that a lot of the call for the surrendering of our civil rights in the wake of the attack is self-serving, to say the very least, and would in any case do little to make us safer. The attack was a terrible thing, and I support every effort to help the survivors, and those who didn't survive, for that matter. Likewise, I do support an effort to remove al-Qaeda from the miseries of its existance, if only to make sure that they never do this sort of thing again.
However, it seems to me that those who are calling for us to give up are rights are invariably white, male, Fundamentalist Protestants whose genocidal agenda is very well-known. Almost immediately after the attack, they began calling for more restrictions on our private lives, and began suggesting that we would have to give much more power to THEM in order to be safe. They have also been trying very hard to equate public Christianity with patriotism, and have been suggesting all along that Pagsn, secularists, and followers of many other religions are somehow less American. They have indeed been having quite a bit of success, as the sudden rise in displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, and the resurgence of religion in the classroom points out.
The real truth is that armed sky marshalls, who used to exist without violating anyone's civil rights, and decent counter-intelligence would have prevented this attack without any surrender of our liberty. The same people whose incompetence allowed this attack to happen are now calling on us to give them more ability to order us around, with less oversight, and no indication that they are cleaning their own house. This is, quite frankly, unacceptable.
The very first day of the attack, I expressed my fears that it would lead to a stampede to do away with the freedoms which we have enjoyed for 200 years. This is indeed happening, and we are already moving down a path which will probably end with internal passports and checkpoints at each town. Given the track record of our fundie rulers, this will not make us one iota safer from terrorism, but might well make us very much less safe as Pagans. For that matter, in the kind of society I am describing, a good fundie can also find him or herself disappearing into some torture chamber merely for going out with expired or incorrect papers, or for having a neighbor who wants his/her property.
If we want to stop terrorism, we need to know who the terrorists are, and not to let them into the country. We should also each be vigilant on our own. If you run a flying school and someone you don't know comes to you with a sack of cash, wanting to learn to fly a plane, and can offer no good reason why, you should probably call the police. If they aren't wanting to crash the plane into a building, or spray people with anthrax, then they are probably going to use it to fly in a few hundred kilos of coke.
This kind of vigilance is also known as common sense. It seems to be in very short supply among our leaders, and giving up our rights cannot substitute for it.
| Civil Rights At The Airports I Would Gladly Give Up For Security... ||Oct 4th. at 12:12:59 am EDT|
|keith randall (theodore, Alabama US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
civil rights at the airports i would gladly give up for security, government facilities you would definitly have to expect it. but as far as personal privacy rights or those that pertain to my right to faith no not at all, in the words of one of the greatest leaders of this country "you would have to pry it from my cold dead hands first!" not to say that i dont support them looking out for our best interest but there has to be a line they cant cross. and believe me i have nothing to hide all they have to do is ask me and i'll tell them.
thanks for hearing my rantings,
blessed be all aquapheonix
| My Answer Might Be Vague, But It's The Best I Can Come... ||Oct 3rd. at 10:04:39 pm EDT|
|John ("New Naumkeag", Ohio US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
My answer might be vague, but it's the best I can come up with right now. I'm willing to give up enough freedom to reasonably reduce the chances of another mass-murder terrorist attack; I am *not* willing to give up so much freedom that we do the terrorists' work for them.
I have no problem with tighter security and long lines and searches and so on at airports, bus and train stations, stadiums, etc. I also have no problem updating surveillance laws to take account of internet and wireless communications. BUT, I don't want cameras on every light post, national id cards, the government monitoring everyone's communications, etc.
In short, I know we have to strike a balance between increased security and protecting our freedom; but, I'm just not sure (is anyone?) about exactly *how* to do that.
| Oh My Godess! I Made The Mental Note After Posting 3 Responses... ||Oct 3rd. at 8:48:30 pm EDT|
|MoonGodessIsis....Crystal (Johnstown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Oh my godess! I made the mental note after posting 3 responses to last week's question that I wasn't going to do this, but as a former debate team award winner, I just can't help myself. LOL
First of all, I have to address this whole Osama Bin Lauden thing...he publicly expressed some three weeks before this happened that he was going to launch an 'unprecedented' attack on the US. So, for those of you who so naievely believe that the government did not know this....well...anyway...
Have you ever seen 'Enemy of the State'? Please believe that the tracking, communication and investigative devices used in that film are by no means ficticious or fantastical, they exist...probably 10 times more advanced than what this government will let you know about. I got that from a reliable source in the Marines.
As far as tracking your personal histories go...well it's already been going on, for probably a century. I'm going to tell you a story, but please, do not think less of me, or think that I would actually do any such thing. I am only writing it to let you know it can be done.
I have worked at various telemarketing firms, and because most of my work has been through a temp agency, I have worked at huge insurance companies, for mortgage companies, credit card companies, bank loan offices, etc...do you see where I am getting? From just the little bit of knowledge I picked up from all of these places, coupled with some telemarketing skills, I could call virtually anyone and get information from them. With a little investigative technique, probably very elementary, I, a lowly office worker, age 26 could, without any hacking skills, could get into your life, ruin your credit, take over your identity, expose your affairs, anything, if I had the desire to do so!
As for the government listening to your phone calls...well, there is a little known fact about FCC operators; they do listen in on phone calls, they listen for certain words, taken out of context which would be cause for alarm. FYI, because talking over the telephones is considered open air, you could be fined by the FCC for cussing on the phone, no matter who you're talking to.
...most of you who have read the Bible, and know anything about ancient history know that for example, the persecution of witches was for government gain, personal gain...anything but an actual religious good deed. So, do you mean to tell me that you actually think that there is no hidden agenda in what is going on right now, or that we, as a Democratic American Peoples know everything that is going on? Please.
As a matter of fact, the FBI is probably reading this right now, and i'll be dead tomorrow from an accident, because they probably think i'm an anarchist, when really, i'm just a peaceful skeptic.
Look at all the people who wasted so much time building bomb shelters for fear of Atomic war. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
And finally if you, as Pagans, believe that beyond this earthly existence, there is a better place, then what is all the commotion about anyway? Are you afraid of dying, or are you afraid of losing some things in a material world that mean nothing on the soul path anyway? Then maybe you should reconsider your paths, because in my lowly opinion, the fear of loss and death is best associated with the Fundamentalists.
I feel great emotional pain for the loss of so many lives, simply because not everyone thinks as I do, and there are so many children affected by this. But I honestly believe that it will be business as usual eventually, and while there will be beefed up security in certain areas, we will still be able to live our lives freely. Unfortunately, there is a price for everything, and if the price for freedom is being targeted by terrorists and activist, then by all means, raise the shield of protection, but realize this, when the shield is in front of us, we cannot see what's coming at us, and where is the freedom in that?
| I Agree That A Bit More Inconvenience Is Ok. I Don't Mind... ||Oct 3rd. at 7:40:39 pm EDT|
|Dagon (San Francisco, California US) ||Age: 49 - Email |
I agree that a bit more inconvenience is OK. I don't mind the searches and metal detectors here and there such as we saw at airports and court houses before September 11th.
And I just naturally assume that people to whom my email are not addressed may read them...hackers being what they are and all.
I believe it will all work out. Why? Because it was Abraham Lincoln that susspended the most basic of rights, the right of habeas corpus, during the Civil War, and we ended up OK in the long haul. He actually locked people up without charging them with a crime, and held them in jail for a long long time with no charges. And it all worked out.
In WWII my folks mail was read by censors and this and that was cut out ... a heck of a way for newly weds to communicate. But it worked out.
And I encourage all to read "Of Faeries and Feminists" by Jennifer Homan in the Gay Pagan section of Witch's Voice. What a Great Essay! Well written! Well researched! Well thought out! And quite thought provoking!
So I will yell and scream about my civil rights but I suspect they will be violated left and right and then it will all work out just fine in the end.
| The Only Thing I Would Be Willing To Undergo Is A More... ||Oct 3rd. at 3:32:50 pm EDT|
|Traci (Traverse City, Michigan US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
The only thing I would be willing to undergo is a more thorough security check at the airport. I will be very concerned if we have to put up security checkpoints at malls, sporting events, and the like. If the government began tracking my every move I might as well move to China because that's where we would be heading. Freedom is so basic to the American ideals that there is no way the government could get away with tracking each of its citizens without completely undoing the constitution.
I have heard a resurgence of a few wanting to have national ID cards to "keep track" of everyone. NO! I would rather take the chance of an attack and become injured or killed myself than to take away my freedom. It is not the government's place to take surveillance of all of its citizens. I have done nothing wrong and therefore deserve to live without worrying if Big Brother is looking over my shoulder.
I do realize that the government could find out about me if they wanted to, but I'm surely not going to hand them my information on a silver platter.
| 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 www.eff.org 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."
| 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.
| 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.
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