Thursday, April 17, 2008

True patriot

The Outpost editor gets fierce.

UPDATE: I didn't have room in the column to get into this, but one striking aspect of the talk was that of the 75 people who attended, just about every single one (judging from the standing ovation and questions) seemed to already agree that the Patriot Act is a problem. Hostile voices and even skeptics seemed to be absent.

It's more evidence that we are an increasingly bifurcated society. In one part of that world, assaults on the Constitution, civil liberties and humane treatment of prisoners are a horror and a disgrace. In the other part, the whole issue doesn't even seem to exist.

UPDATE 2: For further evidence of how disconnected Americans are on this issue, look at the comments on The Gazette story (if you can bear to). The people who say, "If the ACLU is for it, I'm against it" must be among the scariest people on the planet.


Ed Kemmick said...

You need to fix your codes so it doesn't say that your editorial and Roger's column were written by "Administrator." Unless that's the new form of "Anonymous."

David said...

It's fixed. Thanks, Ed.

Anonymous said...

David, when one looks at the combination of the Patriot Act and FISA it becomes very clear that we have in the space of a few years given up many of our constitutional rights. I would like to think that they are "cherished" rights, but it seems that so many place such little value on them. Sad

Chuck Rightmire said...

The problem with the right wingers is that they tend to think with their emotions and confuse their responses with facts. Everyone has a right to his own opinions but he has no right to impose them on me without laying out factual information that puts a solid background behind those emotions. Not only has the ACLU taken on the rights of the librarians, but it has also defended (regretfully) the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, Ill., the rights of Limbaugh to privacy in his medical records and the rights of "psychics" to milk their clients. And if you really want to keep yourself 99.99% safe in today's world, stay home and make sure you keep your furnace and hot water heaters extremely well-maintained, don't smoke, don't drink and, above all, don't drive an automobile.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, there seem to be two sectors in society, those who care about the erosion of our civil liberties, and those who seem to have no concern. Not only that, in some cases those lacking concern are even participating in violating the civil liberties of others.

I’m talking, of course, about what is happening these days on our college campuses. You’ve probably heard about how Ann Coulter has actually been physically attacked while giving speeches on campuses. David Horowitz has, on several occasions, been forced to stop giving speeches. At Columbia University, students forced a speaker who was talking against illegal immigration to leave the stage mid-speech.

There are many other examples. Administrators at Colorado College recently punished two students who published a flyer that parodied the women’s study program. Lake Superior State University has just ordered one of its professors to remove material from his door that was critical of Islamic extremists and gun control or face charges of insubordination, even though other professors have material on their doors promoting left-of-center causes. Officials at St. Johns College in Minnesota said they didn’t want conservative speaker Star Parker to talk on campus because the conservative student group that wanted to sponsor her had earlier brought Ann Coulter to campus and she had said controversial things they didn’t like. Many campuses have speech codes that prevent students from saying things critical of gays, minorities, etc. The list goes on and on. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other examples, many of them listed at for anyone interested in such things.

Oddly enough, instead of focusing on actual violations of civil liberties, many people focus on potential violations of civil liberties under the Patriot Act, etc. That’s certainly something to be vigilant about. On the other hand, we already know that the government already has all kinds of info on us—Medicare, Social Security, taxes, etc. If it sees my library records, well, that concerns me some. But I’d be a lot more concerned about getting hauled before a kangaroo court because of something I said, or if I were stopped in a middle of a speech because something I was saying was not PC.

So why do some folks get so worked up about the Patriot Act when there are real civil liberty violations taking place? Even more puzzling, why do some of those complain loudly about the Patriot Act also work on college campuses and act as part of the PC police corps, having a hand in these violations? What’s one to make of this? The message it sends is that this stuff is more about bashing Bush than about civil liberties.

Actually, I’ll be magnanimous and amend that. I’m sure those who are critical of Bush are concerned about civil liberties and aren’t just being hypocrites. Just as I’m sure that those they criticize are concerned about civil liberties.

Let’s look at this as the complex and nuanced issue it is (an approach the left often urges folks on the right to use). Isn’t it possible to be concerned about civil liberties, and yet want to do all we can to deter terrorism? We were, after all, attacked on 9/11. We live in a dangerous world, as our country is relatively open, and it would be relatively easy for terrorists to smuggle in nuclear weapons, or to use telecommunications or computer systems against us. Likewise, the administration has a responsibility to do what it can to protect the American people, a task you don’t have to worry about. So far they have deterred more attacks, whether by competence or luck.

The administration can’t simply say: Well, civil liberties trump all. I hope that, if the CIA knows Terrorist A is going to tell Terrorist B the time and date when they are going to set off a nuclear bomb in NYC, that they are going to pass on tapping into that phone conversation because it could potentially violate their rights.

The complexity of this issue is reflected in the fact that court rulings have been all over the map. We’re on new ground, dealing with new technologies, new processes, and rights of non-citizens.

As for the Patriot Act, the folks who were at the meeting have the right to persuade Congress to revoke it, or to get citizens of Montana to work toward that goal. Have at it. You might have a little better luck in the persuasion dept, however, if you were to speak out against what is happening on college campuses. Also if you don’t paint those who disagree with you as know-nothings or scary boobs.

Dave said...

I don't always like some of the positions that the ACLU has taken - but I'm still damn glad they're around.
As long as we have out liberties, each of us is free to make whatever choice is right for US, and us alone; it's the folks that want to take choices away from us that scare me.