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Civil Liberties In Trying Times. Posted on 09/19/2002.

Something bugs me.

That thing is the number of people who claim we have to be willing to cut back on our civil liberties because of The Current Situation, that with terrorists freely wandering our country, we as citizens must trade some freedom for security.

To which I say: Bullshit.

In fact, that's perhaps the weakest argument against civil liberties one could come up with. The whole *point* of civil liberties is to keep them strong in the *most* trying of times. To only have civil liberties when it's easy to do so defeats their purpose.

4 comments so far. Add a comment.

Previous entry: "Digital forms."
Next entry: "Wise thoughts."


I agree. It's astounding how little people feel like they can criticize this trend. Perhaps many people feel that if they personally haven't had to fight for some liberty, that it's not worth arguing about.

Which makes me think of a question, and this is as good of a place to ask as any: given all the discussion of preserving freedom in the US, what are the unique freedoms that we enjoy there? I mean freedoms that are *not* available in other Western countries, so "the free press", or "religious freedom" for example don't count.

Gun ownership is embarassingly the first thing I come up with.
Posted by heyotwell @ 09/20/2002 06:27 AM PST [link to this comment]

My understanding is that our first amendment protections (speech, press, religion) are one of, if not the strongest in the world. Fourth and fifth amendments, and associated constraints on police behavior are pretty nifty, too. There's the (possibly apocryphal) story about someone getting arrested in Italy and telling the cops they had to let him go because they hadn't Mirandized him. He'd been watching too much NYPD Blue.
Posted by Medley @ 09/20/2002 05:59 PM PST [link to this comment]

looking in from the outside, one of the so-called freedoms seems to do with commerce: if it turns a buck, it's allowed. Add to that the freedom to sue anyone you want for whatever you want, so long as you have the bucks to back you up.
Posted by john @ 09/20/2002 08:40 PM PST [link to this comment]

Actually, I think it's perfectly reasonable for civil liberties to expand and contract depending on social circumstances. The curfews and blackouts imposed on Londoners during the blitz, for example, were necessary--for national security and for people's own safety. But in that case, the threat was real and present.

What's absurd is the overamping of the Current Situation and, I guess you could say, the pre-emptive curtailing of civil liberties. I doubt America has ever been safer from terrorist attack.

Anyway, is Wag the Dog out on DVD yet?
Posted by Gene @ 09/22/2002 10:31 AM PST [link to this comment]

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