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  • me too (Score:2, Insightful)

    You aren't alone, Randal. This simplistic War on Terrorism has been a unalloyed boon to the dubious Dubya administration, which is milking it for all its worth on both domestic and foreign fronts. Science Fiction stories from the sixties and seventies are full of predictions for a fascist America. We are now uncomfortably close to that fabled point, but not over it. The FDR cliche of "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is particularly salient these days. It is the irrational fear of random ter

    • by pudge (1) on 2002.08.07 12:46 (#11516) Homepage Journal
      The problem is that "terrorist" is a word that describes the intent of an action, but is used to assign value to that action. So we end up saying "they did $X, therefore they are terrorists, and terrorists are bad, therefore they are bad." That's fine if $X has an inherent value, but it usually doesn't. Was The Bomb on Hiroshima a terrorist act? More importantly -- and this is the point -- does it matter? If you call it a terrorist act, does that in itself take away from its justification? No. By saying it is not a terrorist act, does that justify it? No.

      Are what the Palestinians doing "terrorist acts"? What about the Israelis? What it boils down to is "terrorist" acts are ones that kill people we like (or, at least, don't dislike). It's not a useful word in such a context.

      Note that it's hard to blame Bush for the problem; any other politician would do the same thing, and his job in such times is to rally people behind a banner, and what banner would *you* suggest?

      A quick word about whether or not the "terrorists have won": no, they haven't. No matter how you define the word or whom you honor with that label, they have not won. Take Al Qaeda, for example. For them to win, the US would have to leave Saudi Arabia, Israel will have to fall to the Palestinians, and the US will have to stop all aggression toward Iraq. They have not won. Maybe they've caused damage, but that is not a victory.

      Also, I can't agree we are anything significantly close to fascism, nor eroding of the Constitution, in the wake of September 11, though. I can't think of one of my rights that was lost due to the struggle to "defeat terrorism", let alone any Constitutional rights. I am more concerned with the right I actually am losing, such as those related to intellectual property and copyright.

      What rights are you envisioning we are losing or have lost? The only one I can see is related to the rights of the accused, and you can't blame that on the War on Terror; the U.S. has been doing that sort of thing since the early 1800s, when the government feels it is necessary to do so. I'm not defending the holding of suspects without warrant or hearing, but it's nothing new. Maybe I am missing something, though.

      The article Ask pointed to quoted a guy saying, "People should be worried that their freedoms are being taken away right and left." Which ones? The article talks about the federal government "scrutinizing" people, but not actually doing anything to take away our rights. We long ago forfeited the right to be free of government scrutiny. The IRS has free reign to look into anything related to our income. Congress can compel us to report our private information, including what kind of appliances we own. I complain about that, and everyone says I am nuts. This is no different! I don't like it, but if no one cares that the IRS and Census Bureau have free reign to seize our private information, why should they care about this? The federal government's not actually doing anything to harm your rights with that information, so who cares, right?

      The article also talks about "private blacklisting." I frankly couldn't care less about that. I would hope that if I were a publisher, another publisher would tell me that the reporter I am thinking of hiring wrote that Bush was a "coward" on September 11. A reporter or columnist who writes that doesn't have an opinion worthy of being printed in my paper. The White House was a target for attack; standard operating procedure for the Secret Service is to move the President to a safe location. The White House was not safe. It's that simple: those reporters had stupid opinions and don't deserve to work for my paper. You don't have any sort of right to have your opinion published in a newspaper. If you did, then the crazy guy with the aluminum foil hat on the T would have a regular column in the Boston Globe.

      I am not saying there's nothing to be concerned about here, but I am saying a few things:
      • Let's have some perspective. It's quite inevitable that people will not want to listen to dissent at such times. We've been here before.
      • If you are not in a job where you have the right to say whatever you want, then be careful what you say. The First Amendment only applies to the government, and employers are allowed to fire you for any reason not specifically illegal (such as race, ethnicity, gender), unless your contract says otherwise.
      • Let's be consistent. If you think the government looking into your political philosophy is a violation of your rights, then join me in saying that it is also a violation of your rights for the government to look into anything else you do -- whether it is what transportation you use to get to work, or where your income comes from, or what languages you speak -- without proper warrant. Privacy is important, but it really is all-or-nothing. You don't think the government is using responses to census questions and tax forms as a basis for investigation? Think again.
      On a lighter note, I love the quote from the girl who wanted to form an anarchy club: "I'm really disgusted with the courts right now, and with the school," she says. "I'm being punished for being myself." Someone should inform her that anarchists don't care about government authorities like courts and schools ...