Terrorism and the Erosion of Civil Liberties

I have been having a discussion with another lj’er on the subject of civil liberties and the prevention and punishment of terrorism. I was going to continue in a comment on his lj, but decided that it would be better to introduce the subject in my own journal.

I do blame terrorists for their criminal actions. However, I disagree that the best way of handling that is to intern them without trial, Guantanamo-style, while intensively interrogating them probably (given our swift descent into irrational fear-driven amorality) through things like waterboarding and sensory-deprivation.

The best way to handle terrorists is to cease giving them an excuse for terrorism, gather hard evidence, treat them as human beings not as irrational monsters, jail them good and hard when they have committed crimes, and preserve civil liberties for all of us so that we don’t descend into the same pit that the terrorists inhabit.

Conservatives tend to feel that preserving our own lives takes whatever the government can throw at it. Thus, erosion of civil liberties is justified as a good way to save lives. Ultimately, the only way to preserve lives is to remove the perceived motives for terrorism. Removing civil liberties will impact us all negatively, while not preserving lives. The criminals will always find ways to get around any measures restricting civil liberties. We then descend into a spiral of terrorism, restrict some liberties, more terrorism, more restriction, until there is no civil liberty at all. And even at that point people will find a way to commit terrorist acts. But it will then be too late, as there will be no liberty left to restrict. The government will then turn into a terrorist organisation itself, jailing people without any evidence whatsoever, keeping them there under suspicion for the rest of their lives, or torturing them until they go insane. It has already happened: Guantanamo Bay is such a place. The conclusion is clear: Unchecked, government can itself become a terrorist organisation. And we will all become its victims if we are not careful.

W.Bro. Benjamin Franklin, a Masonic sage as well as a Father of the American Revolution, said, “Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” Very wise words.

2 Responses to “Terrorism and the Erosion of Civil Liberties”

  1. spwebdesign says:

    Bravo! I wish more people, in positions of power and influence, felt this way.

  2. skibbley says: