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Editorial

Freedom Flees in Terror 656

Posted by michael
from the forlorn-hope dept.
Paul McMasters of the Freedom Forum has an editorial about the various and many restrictions on freedom that are following in the wake of the September 11 crashes.
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Freedom Flees in Terror

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  • Angry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SilentChris (452960) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @10:21PM (#2323387) Homepage
    I'll make the same argument I've made with many privacy advocates in the past few days: you wouldn't be griping if you were here. Seeing a plane crash into a building on TV is one thing. Seeing it across the river (I live in NJ) is another.

    There is a current mini-poll going on at CNN that asks "Would you trade in some of your personal freedom to be safer from terrorists?" From being in the area, watching 5,000 people die, and hearing constant new stories from friends and neighbors about their dead relatives, I can honestly say "I would gladly agree with giving up some of my freedom".

    In fact, this is an issue that has gotten me angry before. These hotheads parade around in real life and online, waiving their "free speech" stickers, and they don't have an ounce or inkling of what really happened here. People have said to me, moronically, "I'd rather be dead than lose my free speech." I have to say, honestly, "What good is free speech if you're DEAD?"

  • Re:Angry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Savage Henry Matisse (94615) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @10:26PM (#2323403) Homepage
    "Would you trade in some of your personal freedom to be safer from terrorists?"

    Most folks would agree to this, certainly. Unfortunately, as it stands, it seems the more salient question is "Would you trade in some of your personal freedo to be no safer from terrorists?" Because that's where it is: we will be asked to sacrifice our freedoms, but will be no safer from terrorist actions-- especially terrorist that display the adaptibility, patience and savage will that these hijackers did.

  • by tsarina (456482) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @10:26PM (#2323406) Homepage Journal
    "We're in a new world where we have to rebalance freedom and security," said House Democratic Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo. "We're not going to have all the openness and freedom we have had."...Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., repeated the warning: "When you're in this type of conflict, when you're at war, civil liberties are treated differently."

    And yet only Barbara Lee voted out of concern for that. If congresspeople do truly see that their actions against the people's rights have huge consequences, and end up only extending the harms of the terrorist attacks, why do they vote otherwise? Because the public calls for extensive action. Because they want to look 'tough' on terrorism. Surely something should be done. But indiscriminate rights violations are not the way to respond to the attacks. It is a short-sighted knee jerk, with long-term consequences.
  • Re:Angry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dredd13 (14750) <dredd@megacity.org> on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @10:49PM (#2323507) Homepage
    How do you equate morals to speech?

    Because the concept of making a choice between "free speech vs. safety" is a moral/ethical decision. It's a value judgement of sorts.

    Your comment about "And if I was a doctor and was required to do it by the state i would rather do it than die." doesn't ring true for any stanch Roman Catholic, who would believe that would be an Express Ticket to Hell.

    Lots of people, throughout the history of this country, have decided for themselves that "living free" was more important than "living at all". Those men and women bled and died on battlefields from Saratoga forward...

    For someone to say that "living" is worth more than "living free" disgraces the memory of those many who died specifically to prove otherwise.

  • Re:Angry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sabalon (1684) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:03PM (#2323556)
    Okay...take this. If I'm a hypothetical terrorist, and I'm sending/getting e-mail about the above scenario. Now, if I'm smart, it'll look like

    asdfASEAJfakjaSKjdkljaAJK>jflkjasADFjASDJKFjakl sdjfAAKSjkaljtlkrutaileACJieAJaJAIOEAIUEIUaLFKJasK Ljfls

    until it gets decrypted. But lets suppose I'm somewhat dim and don't encrypt this. What would Carnivore think of
    -------
    Tonight I was listening to Sting and

    Los Lobos. Sting's song from The Soul Cages,

    Angels Will Fall is not as good as his anti-

    Nuke stuff from the 80s, but it is still better than Blue

    Midnight by Los Lobos.
    --------
    so..am I just some idiot stuck in the 80s, or was the message the first word of each sentence - Tonight Los Angels Muke Midnight.

    Hell...does Carnivore even do anything other than english?
  • Hear Hear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carnage4Life (106069) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:07PM (#2323569) Homepage Journal
    What constantly stuns me about the American public is how much it seems that few remember their lessons from civics class on why and how the US was formed.

    The founders of the US framed the constitution based around the fact that the natural tendency of government is to oppress its people and for this reason there are a number of safeguards in the US constitution (Bill of Rights, Seperation of powers, etc) that are there for the express purpose of preventing the government from oppressing the people. The current trend of assuming that the government knows best and won't abuse its powers runs counter to spirit that originally founded the United States and would have the framers of the constitution rolling in their graves.
  • Couple other sites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FFFish (7567) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:09PM (#2323572) Homepage
    Seems this is an appropriate place to toss out a couple of new attack-related sites.

    First, Jane's Security [janes.com] has some ideas about who may be behind this attack... and it ain't bin Laden.

    Second, Political Cartoons [msn.com], a collection of attack-related cartoons. Some are worth a second look: you can draw opposing interpretations from them.

    The Dalai Lama's [newstrolls.com] letter to Bush. Worth reading twice: it's short, and important.

    Bush's Language [dawn.com]: why calling this a "crusade" is rather foolish.

    Also, I'd like to apologize for a previous post in which I used the word "accident" in lieu of "attack." My mind was somewhere else, and I think it was trying to fool itself about the atrocity of the attack.

    This can be a sick and cruel world, or a world of joy and life. I encourage you to encourage others to choose the latter. Let's stop the hatred within our own communities, as we try to stop the hatred between nations.
  • Re:Angry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dredd13 (14750) <dredd@megacity.org> on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:13PM (#2323586) Homepage
    It's not the government engaged in taking away your freedoms, it's terrorists.

    No, it's not. Its the government taking it away BECAUSE of the terrorists, but make no mistake, nobody from bin Laden's camp is signing the bills into law.

  • by mandolin (7248) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:20PM (#2323608)
    America has never lost a war

    Vietnam. Please. Now you can go ahead and say "we weren't actually at WAR" but this would conflict with your earlier interpretation of this term, since you say "WE ARE AT WAR!" without us currently being at war.

    Come on, people! It's only by the grace of the US Government that you have those "rights" to begin with.

    They don't think so.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Damn idealists.

    Well, if it's "critical" to the public, then it must be even more critical to terrorists, who will use it against us.

    There are many things the public should know (that the government would prefer us not to), that terrorists have absolutely no interest in. Does "Tuskeegee syphillis study" ring a bell? Less seriously, when the hell are we going to find out who shot JFK? :-)

  • Re:Angry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reverius (471142) on Wednesday September 19, 2001 @11:30PM (#2323642) Homepage Journal
    You're correct, in a way...

    it's the fact that terrorists are attacking us which is directly causing us to lose our freedoms.

    Did the World Trade Center, or 5000 people provide us with freedom? No...

    Did the Pentagon provide us with freedom? Hardly...

    Am I any less free than I was last week? Yes.

    Who made me less free? Was it the terrorists attacking, or the congress critters reacting?

    Reaction is the most dangerous force in the Universe, because it defies logic and analysis... too much emotion goes into decisions which can't be taken back easily.

    Will limiting American freedoms politically help stop terrorism? Maybe.

    But when we reduce our own liberties to stop terrorism, the terrorists have already won.

  • Re:Hear Hear (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nuintari (47926) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @12:34AM (#2323788) Homepage
    Do me a favor.... tell that to the other 2.69 million dumb fucks I have to live with..... ya know, majority knows best over over here, and right now, majority says that personal freedom is for terrorists. I fear for the future riht now.
  • by raque (457836) <jimwallNO@SPAMmac.com> on Thursday September 20, 2001 @02:03AM (#2323985)
    All this breast beating by us geeks about freedom of speech and back-doors in encryption software is very nice. I got to watch all the good stuff real time, fun, no? I have friends who I will never see again, family who are most likely crippled for life with massive head trauma, and kids who want an explanation. Why is daddy crying? I live not too far from the WTC and get (-- notice, not past tense) to smell it. By the way, not too far is the other end of Brooklyn. Look at the space shots of the plume of smoke. It looked like it was snowing here. I would like to make several points that can be responded to separately, as they don't really have a thematic thread.

    1) These guys don't use email and electronic communications a lot, the important stuff happens face to face. Most of this stuff is irrelevant

    2)news is breaking that our old friend Saddam Hussian may have funded a lot of this. We may be back in Bagdad.

    3)We are human and the people we appoint to govern are human, The only two real ways to protect American freedom is a free press and each of us taking an active part in our goverment, not just bitching on slashdot about it.

  • by motherhead (344331) on Thursday September 20, 2001 @02:23AM (#2324024)
    So the Soviet Union collapses and the one commodity that the Russians have in spades is disaffected out of work college educated people with no chance of gainful employment. Oh yeah there is one really excellent employer, The Russian Mafia.

    So the Russian mafia which is not a bunch of criminals with some good criminal idea's, but rather out of work KGB and GRU operators with some brutal spetznaz thrown in are naturally very good at exporting Really Illegal Shit.

    Since well hey, look it's 2001, one of the really lucrative commodities that Russian mob sees big things in is code. And hey, look at that there are thousands of out of work coders literally starving because there is no tech industry to hire them to make playstation 2 games.

    Illegal code is very hot on the black market, because it's harder to get then trucks full of AK-47s. And billionaire terrorists (which I assume, just might shop at them black market mini-malls) have access to it. They do not need PGP, they do not need anything shrunkwrapped on a compusa shelf or that can be downloaded from a 31337 hAx0r jerk off fttp site.

    They have probably read the Clancey novels (or at least "Executive Decision") and have a good grasp on state-department level crypto.

    Okay so we all know this, so what exactly are they looking for? Are they looking for retarded saboteurs and sympathizers? If we presume they have access to Soviet quality crypto, how come we didn't piss away all our civil liberties when the soviets used to spook us?

    Oh hell, I'm a big boy. I realize that the rights that we all take for granted have tightened and relaxed several times in US history. I am not going to be unreasonable when the government hands me a valid reason to ask me to suspend my crystal tower of individual liberty (when we are indeed in state of emergency) in order to annihilate an enemy that has been known to leave timed plastique charges in local starbucks...

    But no. these are not valid reasons. These are empty explanations, you are either stupid or lying to us. Which makes us suspicious. Which makes you the bad guy. Which is fucking up all that national unity that George W. has told me that he expects of me.

    So how about giving us an valid and articulate reason for us to let you borrow our liberties. Not that crap you feed the sheep. Then maybe we can talk. Otherwise how can I not see this as another act of terror and another assault to the American way of life that I would honestly stand in front of bullets to protect. (well I would probably do some ducking, but I would be there, damnit.)
  • Flag Burning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Thursday September 20, 2001 @03:54AM (#2324154) Homepage
    It might be worth pointing out to the non-Americans reading just how freakily attached to the Stars and Stripes Americans are. (or maybe, worth pointing out to Americans how unusual their preoccupation with the flag is).

    In the USA you can buy a national flag in every supermarket. I don't know where I'd go to buy a union jack flag (as opposed to a t-shirt, whatever) -- I'd probably have to find some sort of specialist ceremonial goods shop...

    There was recently an interesting TV series called 'The Tourist Trap', wherein each episode a group of holidaymakers from a single country were exposed to a series of events designed to test their reactions. One morning, the holidaymakers awoke to find their national flag in ashen tatters, and their hotel deserted. The Brits reacted with nonplussed bemusement, a few giggles. The Japanese didn't really know what to think, teh Germans were stoic. The Americans threw an absolute fit; you'd have thought someone had killed their grannies...

    I'm not criticising anyone, just pointing out some cultural differences...

    Wasn't a law against flag burning the theme of the "Amendment to Be" song that replace Itchy and Scratchy in one episode of The Simpsons....?

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