View Full Version : A Thought on Civil Liberties

09-12-2001, 01:34 PM
For those who are excessively worried that security precautions can erode itno the civil liberties that make us great, I think it should be pointed out that if we we give some up voluntarily (while keeping the right to bring them back) nothing has really been eroded.

09-12-2001, 01:46 PM
Please explain!!!

We give up our civil liberties while keeping the right to bring them back????

Who decides what civil liberties we give up? Who decides when we can exercise this "right" to bring them back?

Why do we have to give up our fundamental liberties at all? I'm not talking about enduring inconveniences. The right not to stand in an hour line at an airport while your bag is checked is NOT a fundamental civil liberty. We can increase security without giving up our civil liberties. I'm talking about civil liberties such as freedom of speech, the press, religion, etc. The right not to be arbitrarily detained or searched without reason. These are the civil liberties I am talking about not "inconveniences" that I think many are talking about.

09-12-2001, 01:58 PM
You know what I mean.

09-12-2001, 02:12 PM
No I don't.

09-12-2001, 02:18 PM
Name one civil liberty that has been taken from the people and then returned(perhaps Lincoln's trampling of the Constitution during the Civil War was reversed, but things are much worse now because of the federal governments _ability_ to implement wide-ranging controls). The ""war" on drugs" has seen a huge widening of the federal government's reach. A lot of us in this little poker community travel the country with significant sums of cash which are just fat targets for law enforcement seizures. How many people know poker players who have cash seized. I do. And I've also been stopped driving to LV (for "weaving"), pressured into allowing a search of my car(I refused despite the implied sweetheart deal of allowing me off without a weaving ticket) and asked how much cash I was carrying. And that was just local law enforcement. The resources of the federal government scare me a lot more than a motorcycle jockey.

And that war was against a phantom menace. Against a real menace, I shudder to think. I'm not talking about curbside checkin. I'm talking about the government having the ability to store and read everyone's email and phone conversations. Cryptography is already effectively banned in many, many nations where you must register all keys with the authorities(like England -- they own your email there) and there was a movement afoot to try to do so similarly in the United States a couple of years ago. In a moment of clarity, the Clinton Administration eschewed, but that doesn't take it off the table forever. Everytime I hear about a new crisis(I'm not diminishing this one, believe me, but the magnitude of it actually serves to scare me more because of what may be proportionate reactions), I know some of my freedom is going to be eroded.

The American government should be vigilant towards terrorism. Americans should be vigilant towards the American government. People must realize that it is at the most trying times when they are required to be the most vigilant.


"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

--Ben Franklin

09-12-2001, 02:41 PM
Depends on who the "we" is. "'We' the people" in the constitution only referred to white male property owners. If, for example, we allow certain ethnic group to be treated differently than others, because "Arabs" were responsible for yesterday's event, something has indeed been eroded. Japanese Americans had their civil liberties suspended by "we" during World War II. They were later restored. Was nothing really eroded?

"Security" is another problematic word. The greatest evils have been done, by us and others, in the name of "national security."

I assume here you're talking about the security issue vis-a-vis airports and planes. Can you give an example of a civil liberty that we might consider giving up termporarily?

09-12-2001, 03:28 PM
Those who sacrifice a little freedom for safety, deserve neither freedom nor safety. Benjamin franklin

09-12-2001, 04:27 PM

09-12-2001, 05:23 PM
Sklansky wrote:

""For those who are excessively worried that security precautions can erode itno the civil liberties that make us great, I think it should be pointed out that if we we give some up voluntarily (while keeping the right to bring them back) nothing has really been eroded.""

Sklansky chooses to ignore the fact that liberties are incredibly tougher to GET than to GIVE AWAY.

A business analogy, somewhat far fetched. Price wars have started on the same false principle, i.e. that WHATEVER one gives away, one can get back with the SAME effort. Hah! Companies have slashed margins to the bone in a price war, believeing that when the competition croaks, those margins would be easily recovered. Never happen.

It's a scam deal, folks. LIBERTY IS MORE EXPENSIVE TO GET! Its price is eternal vigilance, the man said. What is the price for NOT HAVING IT?...

09-12-2001, 05:35 PM
Generally speaking good points; however, we really don't know just what "civil liberties" Sklansky may have been referring to, and whether he meant it in the most literal interpretation of civil liberties or may have been referring to things such as this example: if everyone is aware that at airports only one may be required to undergo a search, is that a violation of our civil liberties in this regard?

09-12-2001, 08:34 PM
As long as our system of representative government allows for new laws, repealed laws, and constitutional amendnments, we can get back anything we give up in an emergency. At least in theory. Given the nature of this emergency, I think we would truly get them back.

09-12-2001, 08:54 PM

You are not seriously suggesting that the citizens of this country give up one iota of freedom now are you? We don't give up anything in my opinion. If something is broken, we fix it! Let's first figure out what's broken and then work to fix it.

"I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death" A famous AMERICAN!


09-12-2001, 09:01 PM
Giving up some rights has the potential to effectively deal with the threat of terrorism. The problem is that the threat of terrorism is not going to go away. To get those rights back we would need to bring back terrorism or find a different solution to the problem.

09-12-2001, 09:07 PM
If the emergency options are just that, then perhaps they should have a limit of duration, rather than requiring repeals which could be subject to opposition, delay or just plain old inertia. If necessary the time-frame could be extended as needed. Something like emergency powers rather than new laws. "In theory" is often easier than "in practice"; hence the limited-duration clause idea above.

Still curious as to what, if any, specifics you might have in mind.

09-12-2001, 09:48 PM
In wartime some freedoms are curtailed out of necessity. In many ways these attacks appear to have been acts of war (although it is as yet a bit different than hostile marines landing on our beaches).

Let's speculate it doesn't end right now. Let's speculate what if more attacks take place...couldn't a few drug smugglers have been bribed to smuggle in a few nuclear bombs along with their loads? Couldn't these bombs be detonated in vehicles parked in key locations around the country? Couldn't international hackers simultaneously flood some of our most critical communications systems with denial-of-service-attacks through the Internet? We actually may be far more vulnerable than we might think.

I agree that our freedoms are among our most precious assets. I am not suggesting that we should give these up permanently, and very few of them,if any, even temporarily. However, depending on the degree of threats to our nation, we may have to change some procedures we have customarily taken for granted, at least on a temporary basis. It wouldn't hurt to beef up certain security procedures either.

After we batten down our own hatches, the next step IMO is twofold: eliminate all major players in worldwide terrorism and most of their organizations through the combined effect of direct NATO military actions and diplomatic pressures, while also proposing and arriving at a solution for the Palestinian problem. Such a solution could be granting the Palestinians a small piece of land as Israel was granted, which would become their homeland. Neighboring states could each chip in a slice and be compensated monetarily by the U.N. Surely, if this solved the worst of the Palestinian problem, it would be a worthwhile expenditure of funds. NATO could take a no-tolerance policy towards terrorism, and once the Palestinians have a homeland, many (but not all) of the pressures towards terrorism would evaporate.

Specifically, the first step would be announcing that talks would be held regarding arriving at a homeland for the Palestinians (after the group responsible for these recent attacks has been thoroughly dealt with). NATO would also announce its new no-tolerance policy towards terrorism. At the outset, NATO would refrain from taking action against terrorist groups other than the one found to be responsible for these recent attacks. Next, the Palestinian homeland question would be resolved as above. Next, NATO might require the disbandment of other notorious terrorist and the surrender of the worst leaders of these organizations, as well as making it clear that nations shielding terrorists will be held equally responsible, financially and otherwise. NATO might also make it clear by speech and example that any future acts of terrorism would result in the uter decimation of the organization responsible, i.e. the capture or deaths of the leaders and lieutenants and the confiscation of assets through world court actions in order to pay reparations (if bin-Laden is indeed responsible, not only should he and all his leaders be captured or killed, but all his liquid assets should be frozen to pay for recent damages).

So that's it: enhance our security, deal most severely with those responsible for the recent attacks and ensure the decimation of their organization, arrive at a solution for a Palestinian homeland, and project a new pro-active zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism.

Too much to do? Maybe it would seem so, but it also seems to me the only encompassing solution.

09-13-2001, 03:12 AM
Sklansky wrote

""As long as our system of representative government allows for new laws, repealed laws, and constitutional amendnments, we can get back anything we give up in an emergency. At least in theory. Given the nature of this emergency, I think we would truly get them back.""

Sklansky seems not to realize that the system is what it is precisely because of the freedoms inherent to its functions. And to the freedoms enjoyed by the citizenry.

If the current system of the American polity is changed so that security is enhanced at the expense of individual freedoms, then the system is no longer the same! And those "self-correcting" mechanisms and the possibilities to reverse course are simply not there anymore the way they used to.

The Message is the Medium.

09-13-2001, 08:33 PM
In order to give up the necessary liberties, we have to take steps to change the very nature of the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in it is there a provision for the "temporary" or the "voluntary" supression of the rights protected by that document.

In order to make that change, not only would it have to be by Constitutional Ammendment in order to be legal, but it would have to grant those powers to the obscenely limited number of individuals within the elected government.

Personally, I don't trust people like Hillary Clinton or Charles Schumer to be able to make a reasonable decision on what degree of reduction in rights is applicable to me or my loved ones. They, along with their peers in the Congress, don't have the individual contact with their constituency needed to understand the realities of life for the people who elected them. The Senators from Washington have never been held at gunpoint, they don't have bullet holes in their home, they've never looked into their back yard to see a child being beaten almost to death. Yet to expect them to be able to understand and empathize with the requirements for living in such an environment is completley unreasonable. Along with that, giving them the power to suppress the rights of their constituency is equally unreasonable.

J.A. James

09-14-2001, 03:53 PM
Hmm... During WWI restricted Licensing hours were introduced to try and keep workers in munitions factories more sober. Only in the last few years have these restrictions been eased, and then only in part.

Income tax in the UK was introduced as an emergency measure during the NAPOLEONIC wars, but don't worry, sometime within the NEXT 200 years we will realise what a mistake that was.

09-16-2001, 10:28 PM
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.