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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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| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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!
| 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,no.no And For Those Who Are Still A Little Confused No... ||Oct 1st. at 4:29:33 pm EDT|
|truthseeker (tom (Winter Park, Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
NO, NO.NO and for those who are still a little confused NO.
Freedom has never been free it has always come at the cost of lives. We have been fortunate that in our life time and those of our parents and grandparents the price has not been paid on our soil. Our RIGHTS are not up for negotiation Am I willing to feel a little less safe Yes. Do I have fears yes I am concerned as to what the terrorist next move may be. That however, does scare me as much as the knee-jerk I see from my government reaction (funny applying that term to a bunch of concavities) and fellow citizens.
As for airport Đport-border security I can see some need to strengthen our efforts. I am not opposed to searches for weapons and bombs. I do not however want some government official scrutinizing the types of books I might decide to carry with me or look into the files that might be on my laptop, because frankly it is none of there damned business.
When we get to sporting events (not that I attend many) I am less inclined to favor searches and at shopping malls no way in hell (just an expression). If I have to live that way then I have lost the America I know and value.
The last point, do I feel about being known as a Pagan here I have been affected more then any other area. I was just at the point of loosing up on this point had the broom closet door open a crack. But, with the new wave of blind rabid christianity running loose out there I am a little reluctant to open the door all the way.
We have survived for more then 2 * centuries with our rights pretty much intact I see no good reason for giving them up now.
| I Don't Have A Problem With Increased Security At Airports And Public... ||Oct 1st. at 3:28:58 pm EDT|
|Randy Lawson (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I don't have a problem with increased security at airports and public gatherings but anything further without probable cause should be illegal as it currently is.
If we allow terrorism to take away our Constitutional rights as U.S. citizens in the name of security, then terrorism has accomplished it's goal of destroying our nations integrity and the principles that it was founded on.
| I Feel As Though I Am As Safe As I Always Have... ||Oct 1st. at 3:01:34 pm EDT|
|Jeff Kincaid (Lynchburg, Virginia US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I feel as though I am as safe as I always have been. The recent events have only illustrated weaknesses already inherent in the system. I would not only tolerate, but would welcome and encourage enhanced security measures in areas like airports, large sporting events, etc. These are areas that have specific needs and I do not see that as an infringement on rights. Tapping phones, email, web habits, etc.; now that is a different matter entirely. If the government has clear and ARTICULABLE probable cause to link someone to evil deeds, then there are already legal remedies in place that allow them to tap, track, watch, etc, a person's habits. As far as my faith is concerned, I live in Lynchburg Va, home to Jerry Falwell and his ilk, I am always nervous about being known as a Pagan. I don't hide it from people who inquire, but I see no reason to flash my pentacle and say "Guess what I am" any more than I would expect a Christian to flash a cross, or a Jewish person to flash their Star of David and say "Guess what I am". I believe that the majority of the population of this world, irrespective of their cultural or religious orientation, are good decent folk, who only want to get along with everyone else and have the best life they can.
| This Is A Question I Have Been Pondering For Quite A While... ||Oct 1st. at 1:48:59 pm EDT|
|Rev. Seneca Silverlight (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
This is a question I have been pondering for quite a while now. I would have to say in all honesty that NO I would NOT like to give up my civil rights in the name of safety. Please note that I DO make a distinction between *rights* and *liberties*. I do not consider my *rights* to be *liberties* one is innate and and the other delegated.
My heart goes out to all America for the tragedy that occurred on the 11th of September. My thought however is this, if we let that Genii out of the bottle, we can never put it back. Until some in our government understand that *rights* are not the same as *liberties*, we will see an erosion of all that this country has stood for. If that happens then the terrorists will truly have reached their objectives.
I am all for using a little common sense for safety's sake, but to deny our *right* to free assembly, to deny our *rights* to free speech and freedom of movement, may be the greatest tragedy outside of the loss of life of this whole affair. We must NOT allow that to happen, we could be made hostages of our own fear. We must not allow those who would take away our rights for *our own good* to have this opportunity. Once gone, we will never get them back, and the terrorists will have done their job after all.
Rev. Seneca Silverlight
| No. Absolutely, Positively Not! I Would Rather Constantly Worry About Being Invaded... ||Oct 1st. at 1:32:48 pm EDT|
|Ivy (Laramie, Wyoming US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
No. Absolutely, positively NOT! I would rather constantly worry about being invaded than give up my civil liberties. It's all that I have left and if I lose the right to be myself, then I don't want to be a part of this country.
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