Xah Lee's Unixism

Jeff Shannon jeff at ccvcorp.com
Thu Sep 9 21:01:01 CEST 2004

jmfbahciv at aol.com wrote:

>In article <10juvnrt88k4868 at corp.supernews.com>,
>   Jeff Shannon <jeff at ccvcorp.com> wrote:
>>Here there's a lot of room to disagree -- it's a tragedy when U.S. 
>>citizens are killed, but it's an even greater tragedy when the entirety 
>>of the U.S. loses its freedoms in the name of "security".
>Okay, that's it!  Tell me what freedoms you have lost.  Be specific.
>No sound bytes and no rhetoric parroting allowed.
>I really want to know.  People keep saying this but never say which
>freedoms have been lost.

I've lost the freedom to read whatever books I want, without the 
government snooping over my shoulder. 

I've lost what little was left of the freedom to presume that the 
government isn't listening to my phone calls and scanning my email.  
(This particular freedom has been being eroded for decades, but the 
Patriot Act is pretty much the final nail in the coffin.)

I've lost the freedom from the assumption that, if I read certain books 
and speak of believing in certain principles, I'm not necessarily going 
to act in a criminal manner to further those principles.  (If I loudly 
proclaim that the government is horribly wrong, and I also happen to buy 
a copy of something like, say, The Anarchist's Cookbook... I'm now 
liable to be perceived by the government as a terrorist, and thus be 
subject to arrest and imprisonment with no charges being filed and no 
access to legal recourse.  It doesn't matter whether the government can 
*prove* that I planned anything, or even if I can prove that I have no 
such plans -- there's no opportunity for me to offer or dispute evidence.)

I have a good friend who's a (European) immigrant.  It is now legal for 
the government to detain her for any length of time they so desire, 
without giving any reason more definite than "suspected involvement in 
terrorism" -- and with *no* need to provide any evidence to back that 
claim.  Whether it's been done or not is irrelevant -- she's very much 
aware of the feeling that, despite the fact that she's been living and 
working in the US for most of her adult life, the mere fact that she's 
not "American" makes her immediately suspect, and potentially subject to 
being "disappeared".  Trusting to the goodwill and honesty of the 
government to *not* use its authority is, to say the least, not exactly 

Most importantly, I've lost the freedom to live my life *without* 
feeling quite so much like Big Brother is just waiting for me to make a 
mistake, so that the rest of the US can be "saved" from terrorism.

(I've said my piece, but I don't expect we're likely to ever reach an 
agreement.  So, especially considering that I don't feel that 
comp.lang.* is really an appropriate place for political discussion, I 
won't be commenting further in this subthread.)

Jeff Shannon
Credit International

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