October 09, 2001
CNET's Eliot Van Buskirk wrote CNET's Eliot Van Buskirk wrote a great piece about preserving our civil liberties during this time of War, and the implications of the letting the White House create an atmosphere of self-censorship: Remember what we're trying to save .
Even more frightening is the idea that the government could use its new, expanded role for subtler purposes than accusing someone of breaking a law. Consider the case of Bill Maher, who made a controversial comment on his Politically Incorrect show, which now faces cancellation. Ari Fleischer, spokesman for the White House, condemned Maher's statement, then uttered this chilling remark: "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is." Whether or not you agree with what Maher said, his right to free speech is one of the essential principles on which our country was founded. Fleischer's threat that Americans always need to watch what they say and do addresses my fear: that security measures put into place to catch these terrorists could eventually be used to silence dissenting voices within our media and populace. To surrender the right to say what we think is to give up what we're trying to defend in the first place.
Assuming for the moment that the civilized world is not about to come to an end, we must be careful not to grant our government too much power, because it will be nearly impossible to reclaim what we've given away after the current threat is dealt with. If the government installs its Carnivore surveillance machines in our ISPs now, it could be hard to get them removed once everything (hopefully) returns to normal. Given what happened 17 long days ago, it seems a bit strange to write about holding onto our freedom to exchange the odd MP3 over the Internet. There are so many more serious issues at hand. But with any luck, we will again start caring about the things that concerned us before that tragic morning changed everything. When that day comes, I want our civil liberties to be as strong as they are now. The combination of the Internet and computers could be the perfect tool for control and surveillance of our citizens. In our quest for justice and security, let's try to hold on to some measure of our freedoms.
Posted by Lisa at October 09, 2001 06:50 AM | TrackBack
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