Security vs. Civil Liberties

Which do you prefer first?

IMO, I believe that you can derive Security from Civil Liberties, but that’s just me.

Welcome to the Straight Dope, Deadbird.

A better question might be, which do you believe actually came first?

Security is often used as “bait” by authoritarian governments to facilitate the stripping of civil liberties from the people. Examples are Nazi Germany, China, USSR, Israel and the George Bush Jr. administration. The fear of harm due to poor security is easier to conceptualize than the effect on personal freedom of curtailing civil liberties. For those who have been born into freedom, it is very difficult to imagine the consequences of losing civil liberties.

A population can avoid such government manipulation by rationally assessing the real risks facing society and thoroughly contemplating the consequences of laws/policies stripping civil liberties. Unfortunately, this requires that a population be educated, motivated to think, and activist regarding personal rights. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon in the U.S.

Actually Tedster, I’ve been here for a while. My account got dumped :frowning: I’m just now setting it back up.

HP, how do you feel this COULD happen? Or if it even could at all.

What’s really sick is, I don’t believe Bush jr. is trying to make the US an authoritarian government. I believe the ignorant/stupid people crying out, are the ones pushing for us to become sheeple.

Quite disgusting, is why they’re like this. I blame the media. They’re the one report of misleading/biased news on a daily basis. There’s no stopping this display of propaganda. I can’t stand it.

But what else could it be? People not wanting to leave there sheltered little lives?


Cite, please? Not: I don’t like what he’s doing, therefore he’s bad and he’s taking away our rights.

Very well.

The following article cites the strong-armed method used by the Bush/Ashcroft team and Republican leadership to rush the “PATRIOT” bill through congress. Deliberations and modifications to the bill were made behind closed doors, with no open conference. Thus, judges will not have a formal conference report to guide them in discerning the intent of the legislation in the face of challenges to its constitutionality. The article also discusses significant compromises to civil liberties imposed by the bill.
The article, below, discusses the “Combating Terrorism Act of 2001”, another Bush/Ashcroft project. In particular, the article discusses the blatant intrusions into the privacy of citizens in cyberspace utilizing tools and detection techniques that can easily be evated by terrorists.

the problem is that you have you have security before you can think about giving out civil liberties. This is the new realization in the security and development sectors. You can give people all the civil liberties you want but it collapses if there’s no security. You can have a democracy with civil liberties that gets toppled by guerrillas because the military is too weak, or the military takes over because it feels the government has neglected security.

Regarding the US in particular. The United States hasn’t known the threat of invasion for over a century. And even then it has been willing to restrict individuals rights and the citizens accept it because the feel that it is necessary for security. McCarthyism is one expression, but look at Abe Lincoln, IIRC he suspended the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War and Congress upheld his right to do so.

“Rights do not come to us from nature, which knows no rights except cunning and strength; they are privleges assured to individuals by the community as advantageous to the common good. Liberty is the luxury of security; the free individual is the product and the mark of civilization.” - Will Durant

ermm…that should be you “…must have security…”


hmmm…good cite. The Village Voice, a notoriously fair-minded, centrist publication.

Some quotes from them:

and on and on…sounds like the jack-booted thugs are breaking down my door even as we speak.

Of course, there is this:

So I guess there is SOME sort of reasoned debate there.
Hey, I have concerns about the Patriot Act also, but come on: all it is, is an expansion of the eavesdropping powers of the government FOR FOUR YEARS, AFTER WHICH IT SUNSETS AWAY. It doesn’t reach to the extreme that the Village Voice is frantic about.

And back to the original reason for this thread:
I agree with galrion that security comes before you can give out (guarantee/protect/whatever) civil liberties. After all, even though we had the ideals of our civil liberties in mind, we first had to fight for them, and guarantee our security first.

My own concern is that we didn’t need to have the Patriot Act at all. I don’t think that our intelligence failed so much as from a lack of eavesdropping capability, so much as a lack of intelligence capability, as well as a surplus of complacence. After all, nobody is going to attack US, are they?

I agree that there was no need for the PATRIOT act. I also believe that it will not be allowed to sunset in four years. A government never gives up what it has voted itself.

I think that certain provisions from the act will eventually be renamed and made permanate, since they will only make it easier to catch criminals and terrorists. No need for the average law-abiding citizen to worry about it (yeah, right).

Any future despot will find that violence won’t be necessary to gain power, we’ve already put the mechanisms in place to deprive ourselves of our own liberty.

Remember Franklin: Any who would trade away liberties for a temporary security deserve neither.