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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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| 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.
| I Say Fine Unless It Taps Into The Rights Granted To Us... ||Oct 1st. at 12:45:58 pm EDT|
|JourneyWalker (Covington, Kentucky US) ||Age: 17 |
I say fine unless it taps into the rights granted to us by the constitution
| This Mad Rush America Seems To Be On, To Give Up Civil... ||Oct 1st. at 11:35:11 am EDT|
|Owlfeather (Battle Ground, Washington US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
This mad rush America seems to be on, to give up civil liberties, is very scary. And the fact that Bush went from a tongue tied, fundamentalist Christian, to a, dare I say it, hero, just because some people got killed. I'm not denegrating the pain and loss of Sept 11, but let's get a little perspective.
One of the things that makes America great, is the freedom of speach. If we finally give in to the Govt pressure to let them wiretap at random or read our e-mails, we lose the freedom to speak privately.
And people are already losing the freedom to say what's on their mind. Ask Bill Maher. He may lose his show, his very livelyhood, because he has an opinion, and voiced it.
I think that a search of bags is not ok. How many times have you gone to a circle at someone else's house, and brought your athame? Do you think that a cop would believe that a 2 1/2 foot long broadsword is not a weapon? And if you told him it was a religious item, he would immediately think of blood sacrifices. Off to jail you go, 'till it's sorted out.
Then, there's this sudden surge of Christianity. I am more afraid to admit my religion. I heard once that, a person can be smart, but people are stupid. The herd mentallity that Americans are in is violent and not tolerant. They are American and God made America great. And if you believe differently you are a potential bad guy. That scares me.
The goal of terrorists is to destroy their enemies by a couple acts of terror and let the enemy tear itself apart. The herd has been roused. They are ready to tear apart any individuals that stick their heads up.
I don't like living in fear. But at this point, I fear Americans more than I fear terrorists.
Love and light,
| No... ||Oct 1st. at 11:33:04 am EDT|
|Arthanea (Old Town, Maine US) ||Age: 22 |
| Safety Is An Illusion. With Due Respect To Those Who Gave Their... ||Oct 1st. at 11:29:23 am EDT|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Safety is an illusion. With due respect to those who gave their lives on September 11th, and their friends and families, America has been living in a bubble for quite some time. Great and terrible things happen, people die, and the living cope as best they can and move on. Frankly when one compares the great and terrible events of Rwanda, Cambodia, Chile, The West Bank and Europe in the 40's, America really has gotten off easily thus far. I think most recent events simply serve to remind us that physical life is a frail reality and that all of us are less "safe" than we suppose.
Should we willingly lay down our rights and civil liberties to fortify that illusion? Not on your life. Terrorism hides in the shadows and each one of us is physically capable of causing horrifying damage to our fellow citizens. Terrorism lives in people's hearts and the will to accomplish their act regardless of personal cost. A single individual can be a terrorist. The eradication of the terrorist impulse is, in my opinion, impossible to accomplish and to attempt to do so would require such a microscope to be applied to each individual in a society as to severely curb liberty and freedom.
I for one am not willing to grant any governing body the power to monitor my life in order to allow me a continued feeling of safety when the reality is, I have never been safe. Anyone could make me a victim at any time. All it takes is a van full of fertilzer and diesel and a good fuse. My solution is to swallow my fear and live every day as though it could be my last, with as much diginity, compassion and love as I have in me. The reality is, it very well could be.
| The Place I Draw The Line Is More Or Less Where The... ||Oct 1st. at 9:44:17 am EDT|
|Jenett (St. Paul, Minnesota US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
The place I draw the line is more or less where the Bill of Rights seems to draw the line. The right to assemble in groups *should* be protected. Likewise, I think that my personal residence (and car) and personal correspondance should have protection of privacy, and no search (or reading of email or other internet tracking) without due cause. (I don't have huge problems if there is a requirement for probably cause and a warrant or equivalent process, with evidence required, as has been the case for phone tapping for quite a while.)
However, I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to allow *courteous* searches with the presumption of innocence to start with before getting on an airline flight, going to a sports event, or going shopping, if there is a reason to expect that such searches will make my time there safer. I do not have a constitutionally granted right to fly or shop or see sports, and I think that in those cases, I can make the decision myself not to bring materials with me that might cause problems, or deal with the search, as long as that is known in advance. I do think that it's important that if searches are done, they're done politely, and for *everyone*, rather than for people who look suspicious or fit some profile.
I am still very fond of Heathrow Airport for this reason. When my mother and I were in England about 9 years ago, we were stopped to have our bags searched beyond the X-Ray check they had previously done. The people doing it were very polite, made it clear that random searches were done to allow greater security of the airport, and that they didn't do it with any kind of profiling (My mother is the quintessential gray haired old lady, complete with British accent, I was at the time in late highschool, and looked completely innocent. Both of us were tidily dressed, etc.), just some pattern involving "The next person through the door..." But the search was courteous, efficient, and I had no problems with that treatment.
I am not particularly concerned about a national ID card if it simply included the kind of information available on my driver's license (name, birthdate, photo, height/weight, address). I wouldn't mind if it included citizenship, particularly (My fiance is Canadian, we're in the final stages of the immigration process for him right now, so this is something I've been thinking about) so long as that information were not used inappropriately (i.e. to unnecessarily target resident aliens who are legally resident, as opposed to tracking down people who have stayed beyond the limits of their visa. I think the latter is a reasonable thing to be doing.) I think that such things might make it a great deal easier for people who choose not to drive (I have a couple of friends who have state issued non-drivers IDs, who have great trouble sometimes getting them accepted as valid.)
I am, however, concerned about having to reveal other information, including religious preference, social security number, membership in organizations, or medical information. Having done a lot of reading for a paper for my master's degree in Library/Information Science about the early years of the American Library Association's Committee for Intellectual Freedom, I've seen what can happen when some of those liberties get eroded, and I am quite concerned by *that* prospect.
I think that there are other ways to track the potentially 'dangerous' organizations than tracking it from the individual end (track by infiltrating a member, for example, or by figuring out where the group meets, and tracking people from there) rather than requiring that information to be available to any government official who might require the card for another reason for people who are not at all involved in a potentially dangerous group.
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