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2006's Bill of Wrongs

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the that-time-of-year dept.

Your Rights Online 605

Jamie continued the never ending flow of year-end recap stories, this one is the Bill of Wrongs which lists the 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of the year, according to Slate. Several of these aren't news to Slashdot readers, but it's still worth a read.

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Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaou (2, Interesting)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416458)

I was please that he did not get the death peanalty primarily because he so obviously WANTED to get the death penalty. The man wanted to die, and I'm glad he was not given his wish.

Re:Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Mouss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416728)

I've heard from some people that he did a "double fake-out". Moussaou didn't want to die, so he let it be known that he wanted to die so that the jurors would think they would martyr him. The jurors, not wanting a martyr, decided not to press for the death penalty.

Re:Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Mouss (5, Interesting)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417026)

That reminds me of this guy the featured on the Public Radio show "This American Life." He was convicted of a murder he did not commit, so during the penalty faze of his trial he did everything he could to get the death penalty. His logic, if he was wrongly convicted to life in prison, nobody would give a s**t and he would rot in jail forever. If he was wrongly sentenced to death, some liberal lawyer would take up his case and exonerate him. The amazing thing is the plan worked. He convinced the jury to fry him and he found a liberal lawyer to overturn his conviction.

What about bans? (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416480)

Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle. This has been the year of banning activities in the name of public health. Talk about violating civil liberties! (And, natch, in every single case the ACLU was behind it 100%.)

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416500)

"Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle."

Considering how many of the people in the states of New York and Washinton have their health care paid for by the state, typically the elderly and infirm who are receiving expensive treatments for the effects of trans-fats and smoking, these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me.

It's like state seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws; it's not the state saying "These things are good for you" so much as "Ambulance rides are expensive and our emergency rooms are full."

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416560)

First of all, the article takes a lot for granted that I personally do not. Basically, it rips the taglines from the media and comments on them as fact. The U.S. media hardly exposes the facts, at least not all of them.
As for "these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me"...
Now that is a liberal. Bitch at the Republicans accusing them of "trading liberty for security" but if it saves money, why not!?

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416596)

On the point, I'd say.

Re:What about bans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416656)

As for "these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me"...
Now that is a liberal.


Certainly not a fiscally or socially liberal position. I'd have to see New York's constitution and the city's charter to decide whether it's "legally" liberal.

Re:What about bans? (5, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416704)

"Now that is a liberal. Bitch at the Republicans accusing them of "trading liberty for security" but if it saves money, why not!?"

If the state is to be exptected to pay for a steady stream of oxygen tanks, heart stints and bypasses and the like, then the state is justified in reducing the costs to the taxpayers by reducing their frequency.

I would also be more than willing to accept a designation on your driver's license, similar to the markings for organ donors, that marks you as a (e. g.) smoker, thereby exempting you from both state-funded medical care or from the responsibility of any group healthcare programs you may be a part of, requiring you to pay for everything out-of-pocket as well as lowering your priority in gaining access to treatment for your self-inflicted ailments. But the hue and cry against such a measure from indignant smokers (et al) would keep it from ever being enacted.

I don't particularly mind people doing stupid things that kill them where they stand (unless the local morgue is particularly overtaxed), but in the case of activities that place an undue burden on public health resoures, resoures that must be shared between all citizens of the state, then the rest of the people have the right to take action, in their own self-interest, to prevent that burden. Whether they treat the demand side of the problem (by segregating off abusers into their own "separate but equal" healthcare system) or the supply side (by banning the materials in question) is up to them, but one way or the other, your right to smoke ends where it effects the livlihood of others.

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416828)

Then by your own argument... Terrorists flying planes into big buildings costs the tax-payers a lot of money, ergo it is okay to do whatever is necessary to reduce terrorism... Same argument..

Personally, I am more for a vastly smaller government, and that they stay the hell out of people's private lives... I'm also against the current system of socialized medicine.. how about a government sponsored non-profit insurance company... or even one that isn't govt sponsored? Reduce the tax burden on people to something below the 50% or so most people pay now (between income, fica, utility, and taxes on goods at more local level that's a lot of f-ing tax burden), then people could actually *pay* for their health care... also, if people were directly responsible for health care, they'd be more likely to shop around, instead of bowing to whatever the local hospital wants to charge...

I live in a more rural community, and the local hospital charges more than 2x what a hospital in phoenix charges in most cases... this is with an overhead that is actually *lower*... Also, if the federal (and state) government wasn't so wasteful to begin with, it wouldn't matter so much. As for smoking affecting others, do like GB, and put smokers at the bottom of any list for aid when it comes to smoking-related illness (at least as far as govt sponsored health issues) .... Also, many retired/older smokers were "hooked" during their involvement with the US Army in wars last century... the Army issued cigarettes with their rations, and encouraged smoking as a way to help cope, claiming it was a safe thing to do... we (as a nation) have a responsibility to these people.

Re:What about bans? (3, Interesting)

paganizer (566360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416914)

I'll go along with everything but the lowering of priority in gaining access to treatments. Of course, I smoke a pipe, so I'm not likely to see the problems A 2 pack-a-day smoker will.
But, it has to be part of an omnibus law; one that will apply the same restrictions to people who drink alchohol, eat red meat, ingest products made with high fructose corn syrup, etc.

I would also suggest that you restrict in a similar fashion people who are injured while driving a motor vehicle in speeds in excess of 30mph, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, scuba diving, flying, etc.

It's only fair; people who purposefully do things which endenger their health shouldn't have to be treated the same way Sane, healthy, non-risk takers do.
As this pretty much leaves the Amish, I imagine tax income would be seriously impacted, as it wouldn't be in the vast majority of peoples interest to pay taxes, since they wouldn't see any benefit.

On a unrelated note, can someone direct me to a forum or mailing list where I can talk about TOR development? I can't seem to find anyplace, and I have some things I want to try.

Re:What about bans? (2, Insightful)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416938)

If the state is to be exptected to pay for a steady stream of oxygen tanks, heart stints and bypasses and the like, then the state is justified in reducing the costs to the taxpayers by reducing their frequency.

And that is the best argument I've heard all day as to why the state should not be in the business of providing health care at taxpayer expense. Period.

Re:What about bans? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416950)

ok, simple solution: the state no longer pays for any health care.

Re:What about bans? (2, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416968)

Whether they treat the demand side of the problem (by segregating off abusers into their own "separate but equal" healthcare system)

Wow! that is mindblowing. Apparently civil rights are great except when allowing them is more costly, right??

Now consider this fact, blacks have a higher incidence of heart disease, does that mean they'll get treated to "separate but equal" again with federal healthcare? Forget that!!!

My position is this: If the feds want nationalized health care, then suck up the costs no matter what we do. If they want to pay for our health care fine, but its in for a penny in for a pound.

How about this small change to a very famous quote:

"Those would would trade a little liberty for a free lunch deserve neither." - Me

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417020)

If my license got a stamp that said I was a smoker and couldn't take part in any state funded healthcare... If it meant I didn't have to pay for anyone else to get it either? I'd start smoking.

Get rid of the state sponsored crap, let people choose their own insurance providers, let people deal with the consequences of their choices, and let people live their own lives.

Re:What about bans? (2, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417046)

There's never any end to that arguement though. Imagine a state with no significant financial conflicts over medical care costs. Maybe the sort of medical care needed for anti-social act X becomes really cheap, or else the laws are changed to just write off self inflicted health problems from X and not fund treating them publicly.
      What really changes for your arguement? People who get sick before normal retirement age don't pay into social security as much, so 'your right to smoke' (eat trans-fats, sit on the couch and watch the Springer show, etc.), still ends where it affects the livelyhood of others. People who become couch potatos are less valuable assets for the armed forces if a draft is needed, so 'your right not to exercise' ends where it affects the livelyhood of others. People who don't invest in their own retirement..., People who don't vote, or vote while unfamiliar with the issues... People who get pregnant too early, or too late in life, or not with an approved genetic match...
        For years, people argued that ulcers were a stress related disease, and some people quite seriously argued for public health refusing to treat the condition unless the sufferers first made lifestyle changes. Ulcers turned out to have a bacterial cause. Right now, there's a huge arguement in social government and insurance circles for requiring diabetics to make lifestyle changes so they put less burden on the public health system, and some researchers suggesting that there may be a viral or bacteriological factor in diabetes, other research showing that eating habits don't really affect diabetes in the ways medical science just assumed, and so on. What happens if we limit public funding to treat this desease because it's really just a result of peoples own actions, and it turns out it isn't?
        Every single action you ever take has some chance of affecting the livelyhood of others. In some cases, a clear, calculable risk/benefit ratio is available - In a great many it isn't. Governments are generally not skilled at assigning reward and punishment based on how much something really adversely impacts others, or how much uncertainty there may still be in an assessment of the risks. At least mine isn't - would we have the war on (some) drugs, massive dependance on foreign oil, and a 3,000+ page tax code if it was?

Re:What about bans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17417092)

I would also be more than willing to accept a designation on your driver's license, similar to the markings for organ donors, that marks you as a (e. g.) smoker, thereby exempting you from both state-funded medical care or from the responsibility of any group healthcare programs you may be a part of, requiring you to pay for everything out-of-pocket as well as lowering your priority in gaining access to treatment for your self-inflicted ailments. But the hue and cry against such a measure from indignant smokers (et al) would keep it from ever being enacted.

It doesn't surprise me that you made no allowance for refunding the costs paid by those so designated for services denied. Now that health care has been throughly collectivized, people like you can't help but pull on the strings to get the behavior you prefer. Good luck badging the bad people. Hope it turns out the way you want...

Re:What about bans? (2, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416742)

A much quicker and easier (if more "heartless") solution would simply to stop governmental medical benefits in the case of self-inflicted injuries.

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416770)

Considering how many of the people in the states of New York and Washinton have their health care paid for by the state, typically the elderly and infirm who are receiving expensive treatments for the effects of trans-fats and smoking, these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me.
That's a horrible argument because it can be used to ban absolutely anything. Every thing you do has an effect on other people. Freedom is nothing more or less than the willingness to tolerate some level of imposition by other people in return for them doing the same for you.

Smoking bans: reducing freedom, or increasing it? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417078)

In my country, the majority of people do not smoke. Smoking is known to cause many health problems, and we've long since debunked the myth that passive smoking is harmless. So is banning smoking in a public place -- something that directly prevents harm to the health of the majority, at the expense of some convenience for the minority -- really an infringement of freedom?

Hint #1: Will my non-smoking, asthma-suffering friend who will finally be able to go to a bar in the evening have her freedom restricted?

Hint #2: Will a family member who gave up smoking years ago and no longer has to suffer the smoky atmosphere he wanted to leave behind every time he goes out for a drink have his freedom restricted?

Hint #3: Will the many non-smokers who will now be able to take work in the hospitality trade without risking their own health to do it have their freedom restricted?

There are lots of rights and freedoms, and by default we should defend them all for everyone. But sometimes they come into conflict. Sometimes resolving that conflict is difficult, particularly when it involves an important principle (such as a right to privacy) clashing with a very practical need (such as the right to travel safely, even if it means your fellow passengers have to be searched/background checked/whatever).

But sometimes, the decision is very easy for most people. Should the freedom of movement of a tried and convicted murderer outweigh the right of his neighbours not to be killed, or should we throw him in prison until he's no longer a danger to others? I believe the decision in that case would be near unanimous anywhere.

There are no right answers on these ethical issues, no black and white, always shades of grey. But you're wrong that the argument can be used to ban anything, at least if you mean used effectively. Some things are worth spending money on, even though it means compelling everyone to contribute. If a strong majority really did not agree with this (rather than just whinging about paying taxes, while at the same time being happy to use facilities funded through taxation) then chances are that we would long since have reverted to a completely private, insurance-based, very multi-class society.

For an argument about cost-saving to be effective, there has to be a clear moral case that the consequences are justified. In the case of smokers, as long as they were genuinely aware of the consequences and capable of making a reasoned decision independently, I don't see that there's much moral argument for putting their interests ahead of others who are given no choice about the smoker's actions, yet who suffer in health and potentially financial terms as a consequence.

If you want a more difficult argument with smokers, try the case of an older person, who smoked in their youth before the dangers were fully understood, but who has long since given up and who now gets lung cancer. But for current smokers, it seems to me that banning them from doing so (at least when non-smokers are nearby) can be easily justified in health grounds, and the financial argument is compelling (given that the public money you aren't spending treating smokers can then be spent on helping others who may not have had any choice about their misfortune).

(Footnote: The financial argument here assumes, of course, that the net cost of smoking to the health service is positive. This may or may not be a valid assumption, given that smokers tend to die younger and therefore not need increasing amounts of more expensive treatment in their old age. I've seen good arguments, backed by real statistics, on both sides of this argument. I'm not going to get into it again here, since my point is that the financial argument cannot be used automatically to justify arbitrary bans as the parent claimed, and smoking merely serves as a convenient example for discussion.)

Re:Smoking bans: reducing freedom, or increasing i (-1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417118)

Less free. In hints 1 2 and 3 each person has the freedom to choose to place themselves in such an environment or not to. By banning smoking, they no longer have that choice. There is only one choice. Never mind the freedoms you take away from the smokers. No, bans of any type are an overall loss of freedom. That's why they're called bans.

Re:What about bans? (0, Troll)

JWW (79176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416910)


Considering how many of the people in the states of New York and Washinton have their health care paid for by the state, typically the elderly and infirm who are receiving expensive treatments for the effects of trans-fats and smoking, these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me.


And that is why total government health care is such a BAD idea. It would give government unheard of control over your life. It would instantly make every item on this list insignificant (and they are significant) compared to what the government would be able to force you to do or not do because it would "keep costs down".

Re:What about bans? (4, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416518)

Neither of those are constitutionally protected rights, which is what TFA is about.

Freedom of Association (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416624)

If I want to choose to eat at a restaurant that uses transfats then that is between me and that restaurant.

Re:Freedom of Association (3, Interesting)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416706)

But how do you know if a restaurant serves transfats? The only way to protect consumers other than the outright ban would be to force all the restaurants to post the nutrition information of all their dishes (like the fast food chains are supposed to do). I would think that would be a more significant burden on the restaurants than the ban.

Re:Freedom of Association (2, Insightful)

dwarfking (95773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417042)

But how do you know if a restaurant serves transfats?

This is a good point. I think the government's role should be the unbiased publication of factual research data (I support government funded research for everyone's quality of life), in simple layman's terms, of what impact a given activity can have on your health. Then you decide. If you decide to participate in an activity that is harmful, then along with all the claimed rights you have, you also have to accept the responsibilities.

Of course we have to ensure the government reports get as much (or more) press as the corporate advertising trying to convince you otherwise, similar to how the tobacco industry has to run ads showing details of the harmfulness of smoking.

No level of government should be deciding that legal products be banned due to health issues that may arise. They should provide facts. By the same token, people should not be able to live totally destructive lifestyles and expect the taxpayers to come in later and pick up the bill.

Too bad the founding fathers didn't add a Bill of Responsibilities along with the Bill of Rights.

Re:Freedom of Association (3, Informative)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416748)

From a wikipedia [wikipedia.org] reference [nap.edu] :

Trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health. Therefore, no AI or RDA is set. As with saturated fatty acids, there is a positive linear trend between trans fatty acid intake and LDL cholesterol concentration, and therefore increased risk of CHD.
In addition they don't even taste as good [bantransfats.com] . Everyone thinks that this means you can't eat french fries in New York anymore when in fact, the fries will taste better and decrease fry-lovers' chances of dying of heart disease. Trans fats are just used to make the food last longer. Why would you choose to eat trans-fats?

Re:Freedom of Association (1, Offtopic)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417074)

This is exactly what I have been trying to tell people.

Trans-fats are not good for the consumer in any way, they are good for the fast food corporations and as we all know they won't stop selling a product that kills there patrons slowly unless the state forces them to do so.

Stop listening to the fast food propaganda and for that matter take a step back to really see what you are defending.

Re:What about bans? (1)

rawtatoor (560209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417106)

Neither of those are constitutionally protected rights, which is what TFA is about.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

I repeat NO!! Insightful? More like complete ignorance of the Bill of Rights. Have you ever heard of the 9th amendment? Im starting to realize that we're sliding backwards in time and are going to until we convene another constitutional convention or god help us another revolution. Because too many people just don't understand what was actually intended by the founders of the U.S.A. And dare I say they don't care?

Re:What about bans? (5, Insightful)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416522)

(And, natch, in every single case the ACLU was behind it 100%.)


Is that a troll or do you actually have a reference to show that the ACLU was actively supporting such bans?
Would you be against a ban of mercury in food as a seasoning?

Is the ACLU actively against the ban? (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416602)

I haven't heard of the ACLU jumping in to defend anyone's rights in this case.

Re:Is the ACLU actively against the ban? (4, Funny)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416758)

"I haven't heard of the ACLU jumping in to defend anyone's rights in this case."

Or the American Center for Law and Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Cato Institute, Greenpeace, the local Rotary club, the 700 Club, Sam's Club, Met Life, or the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.

Re:Is the ACLU actively against the ban? (1, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416782)

The point is that if the NAME of the organization is the "American Civil Liberties Union", you might reasonably expect them to be interested in preserving civil liberties. But instead they're just the typical liberal pussies. (Which is fine; I have no problem with that, except they really need to change the name so some organization that *does* care about civil liberties can have it.)

Cry me a river (3, Insightful)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416942)

How in the world does your "civil liberty" to eat trans-fats or stick a cancer stick in your puss compare with being tortured or having habeas corpus revoked? If this ranks as one of the more serious problems you have with the ACLU, then they must be a remarkable group.

I'm sorry, I just don't see these as civil liberty issues. Of course, there are things the ACLU fights for that I also think don't qualify, but still, to claim silence on such petty issues is the same as support, is like saying that you obviously supported Kenneth Kaunda [wikipedia.org] since you never spoke against him.

Re:Is the ACLU actively against the ban? (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417024)

Here [google.com] is a link explaining what a civil liberty is. Smoking isn't any more of a civil liberty than using your neighbour's bathtub as a urinal.

Re:What about bans? (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416626)


Would you be against a ban of mercury in food as a seasoning?


I would be. As a seasoning it is far too hot and dry. Also, it tends to take up much more of your plate. I find Europa far more suited to seasoning IMO.

Re:What about bans? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416658)

Would you be against a ban of mercury in food as a seasoning?

Mercury is extremely toxic when breathed -- perhaps mercury added to an incense stick would be a better analogy.

As for being against the forced-feeding of a poison, I am definitely against fluoridation [just-think-it.com] and would be against the addition of fluorine to foods. Pass that law soon please.

Re:What about bans? (0)

zxnos (813588) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416980)

we seriously need to ban this stuff [dhmo.org] also.

Re:What about bans? (1, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416720)

I heard an interview with Barry Groveman, mayor of Calabasas, CA about their smoking ban which is far more draconian than the Seattle one. (For instance, if you follow the letter of the law, it bans smoking in many private homes.) The interview was on the Adam Carolla morning radio show. Groveman was extremely proud that he had the full support of the ACLU for his civil-liberties-smashing ordinance. If the ACLU was for the most draconian anti-smoking law in the US, it stands to reason they were also for the Seattle and New York bans.

Here's the link to the Adam Carolla blog on that day: http://adamradio.wordpress.com/2006/03/21/adam-wit h-mayor-barry-groveman-and-david-koechner/ [wordpress.com]

I don't have the audio or a transcript.

not exactly (2, Informative)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417054)

A little research on the ACLU site shows this snippet about regulating tobacco advertising

  http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/commercial/11064leg 20020918.html [aclu.org]

From the article:
   

The ACLU believes that the breadth of the prohibition on tobacco advertisements far exceeds constitutional boundaries, and, if enacted, will most likely fail to withstand constitutional challenge. Moreover, we believe the enactment of the proposed tobacco advertising restrictions would drastically curtail commercial speech and could have a chilling effect on the right of the public and businesses to engage in free speech about controversial subjects.

Re:What about bans? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17417112)

Groveman was extremely proud that he had the full support of the ACLU for his civil-liberties-smashing ordinance. If the ACLU was for the most draconian anti-smoking law in the US, it stands to reason they were also for the Seattle and New York bans.
Mr. Groveman points out that if you go to the American Civil Liberties Union, you will find that they dont oppose actions like this, because they know that civil liberties do not extend to actions that hurt other people.

Emphasis added. Your own link undercuts your claim that the ACLU supports draconian bans on private actions in one's own house.

Also, a google on "seattle smoking ban" and "ACLU" shows that the ACLU is fighting the ban, not supporting it as you claimed. Get your facts straight.

You have also failed to state a case that the New York ban on hydrogenated oils in restaurants is a civil liberties issue. You have furthermore failed to state a case that this ban is a greater violation of civil liberties than kidnapping people and torturing them, listening in on other peoples' private telephone calls without a warrant, or trying to undermine the justice system itself. That was your original argument.

So far you have done nothing but draw extreme conclusions without sufficient or accurate information, lie when pressed to support your conclusions, and irrationally condemn the ACLU for things they have not done.

Final grade in logic: F. You are either trolling or stupid. I suspect stupid.

Re:What about bans? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416550)

Those do not ban your rights to eat garbage or smoke.
it bans ban you from selling me that crap (because it is 0.001% cheaper than healthier stuff), and it bans you from polluting the air I breath.

your liberties stop were they start hurting others.

Re:What about bans? (1, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416760)

I'm yet to be convinced that second-hand smoke harms anybody, except perhaps workers at restaurants and bars who *choose* to work there despite the smoke, in which case I don't think the government should swoop in and "save" them from themselves.

The anti-smoking propaganda is so thick in the last few years that it's hard to separate the bullshit from the fact. My favorite ad is the one that says, non-chalantly and without reference to any scientific publication, that second-hand smoke causes asthma in children. The hell!?

Re:What about bans? (3, Insightful)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416860)

I'm yet to be convinced that second-hand smoke harms anybody, except perhaps workers at restaurants and bars who *choose* to work there despite the smoke, in which case I don't think the government should swoop in and "save" them from themselves.

Oh right, I forgot that everyone always has the choice to have a different job than they currently have. No one ever gets stuck, unable to find a better job and unable to quit and live with no job.

Re:What about bans? (2)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417034)

Oh right, I forgot that everyone always has the choice to have a different job than they currently have. No one ever gets stuck, unable to find a better job and unable to quit and live with no job.

Whose problem is that - your's or your employers? It's not your employer's fault if you're too much of a dim bulb to improve your circumstances.

Re:What about bans? (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416978)

Yes, seconded. It's almost total disinfo or bad science as far as I know. I read a proper scientific report on the effects of passive smoking, the main conlusion was that banning smoking in a bar saved the 40hour bar worker 6 cigarettes intake over a period of 12 months. It's an easy enough experiment to do and those were the results. If you smoked one cigarette every two months I don't think you'd be at any risk at all. There is no proven link to rising asthma rates and smoking either. My hunch is that the reason lies somewhere between vaccines damaging the immune system (also giving rise to increasing rates of allergies found in children) or exhaust pollution from cars. I worry that a scientifically illiterate populous can be so easily lead.

http://badscience.net/ [badscience.net]

This is a site I really enjoy and I recommend a read to see how much of this stuff is about.

Regards

Re:What about bans? (0, Redundant)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416638)

The trans-fat [wikipedia.org] ban will actually serve to make food taste better and as a kicker lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, albeit potentially making food a tad more expensive.

The public area smoking bans have obvious health benefits for bar room staff and patrons alike, and also mean that if I spend 30 minutes in a bar my jacket, shirt, pants and hair don't reek of cigarette smoke until I wash them.

Compare the impact on our civil liberties from these bans (we can still smoke, just not in a room with other people, and why would you want to eat trans-fats??) with the infractions listed in TFA while considering the comparative risk [the-eggman.com] of dying by heart disease and dying by terrorist attack.

Re:What about bans? (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416654)

Much to my pleasure, smoking was baned in my city without any help from the ACLU (in my town, it was primarily one person who got the ban passed). I don't smoke and am for one really sick and being forced to breath a toxic carcinogen because someone is so addicted that they cannot wait until they leave an enclosed restaurant to light up and walk through the non-smoking section spewing this noxious and nauseating nuisance around while I eat. If smokers like this would bother to have the slightest consideration for non-smokers, then possibly the ban would not have been passed. The smokers whine and complain endlessly that they can't get their fix at the bar, I just take a deep breath and say, "quit smoking." Now, not to be a troll to the smokers, not all smokers are inconsiderate, but regardless, smoke carries throughout a building and you will be inhaling it no matter what. That's not directly the smokers' fault, but it's also not my fault that you choose to smoke. What about MY choice to breath clean, smoke-free air? I never got a say in these matters, it was up to the smokers to decide if I could breath clean air or the exhaust they spew. Now, someone finally decided that the health of those that choose NOT to smoke is finally more important than the rights of a smoker to poison his/her body and force that poison into mine.

Re:What about bans? (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416726)

I used to smoke. I notice now that second-hand smoke really bothers me a lot, yet it did not bother me as much before I smoked. However, I am certain that I get more carcinogens breathing in the automobile pollution when I go for a walk than any second hand cigarette smoke! It seems that most of the old trucks and cars in this area spew out really horrible stuff!

It would be fine for me if smoking was stopped everywhere, but it is kind of pointless as long as many areas still do not have mandatory automobile emissions testing.

--jeffk++

Re:What about bans? (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416994)

It would be fine for me if smoking was stopped everywhere, but it is kind of pointless as long as many areas still do not have mandatory automobile emissions testing.
How is it pointless? Are you saying that if we can't fix a problem completely we shouldn't bother to do anything at all?

Re:What about bans? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416784)

I've heard a bunch of people complain about the NYC trans-fat ban, and I really don't get why people are upset. It isn't an attempt to make "unhealthy eating" illegal, or even make it illegal to eat trans-fats. It's just a ban on selling trans-fats in restaurants. You have to remember that, when you're talking about trans-fats, you usually aren't talking about naturally-occuring stuff in real food. It's kind of a gross grey goop that is artificially made, horribly bad for you, and used because it's cheaper. People going to restaurants don't get nutritional labels to let them know what they're eating.

The health departments will also fine restaurants for selling food with rat-droppings in it. It's not because they want to take away your freedom. They aren't making it illegal to eat rat droppings if you want to, but rat droppings aren't food, and could be a source of health problems if people are eating lots of rat-dropping-laden foods. If you really really want to eat rat-droppings, you're allowed to. Restaurants just aren't really allowed to sell it as food.

And in case you're wondering, I live in NYC and welcome the change. It's not that I'm a health nut, but in fact particularly because I like eating greasy foods that I'm in favor of the ban. For example, I really like fried chicken. It needs to be a certain level of unhealthy in order to make fried chicken taste that good. Do I really want restaurants to add to that unhealthiness as a cost-saving measure?

This thread is Irrelevant (1)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416810)

Somebody ought to label the initial "What about bans?" irrelevant and label its poster a troll. I can't do it, but this one is not only unrelated to the questions of civil liberties raised, but arguably the product of either stupidity or payola.

Re:This thread is Irrelevant (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416852)

Please explain to me how it is unrelated to the questions of civil liberties.

Re:What about bans? (1)

Rhone (220519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416840)

Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle. This has been the year of banning activities in the name of public health. Talk about violating civil liberties!

The trans-fat ban only applies to restaurants, so restaurant customers in NYC will hopefully be able to go out to eat without having to stress over whether their food is loaded up with one of the greatest (and most unnecessary!) evils the food industry has assaulted us with. Meanwhile, idiots who don't care about their health are still free to go to the local grocery store and purchase their artery-clogging, heart-destroying margarine and Crisco, so I fail to see how this is a violation of civil liberties.

Also, I don't know the details of Seattle's smoking ban, but at least in New York the smoking ban only applies to enclosed public places like restaurants and bars. While I agree that one should have the right to harm themselves for pleasure (e.g. smoking) if they really desire, an individual's right to harm himself should stop when it harms others, just as an individual's right to extend his fist stops at someone else's face. Banning smoking from places where innocent people can be harmed by the second-hand smoke is a decision in favor of, not against, civil liberties.

Re:What about bans? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416894)

The law in Seattle applies to any public place and any outdoor area within 25' of a public place or an air vent, open window connected to a public place. Transit buses count as "public places," which means that if you're standing 20' away from a bus stop and are smoking, the instant a bus pulls up and opens its door you're in violation of the law.

Re:What about bans? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416900)

Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle.

Smoking, at the very least, is a public nuisance. There is no law against public smoking that isn't justified. People should not be allowed to smoke within 500 yards of any other person.

I was with you about Trans-Fats, until I read this article [straightdope.com] about the issue on The Straight Dope. I figured it was more idiocy from the Health Nazis who want to ban anything that tastes good, but this is really about a cheaper substitute that has a big effect on health. This is the sort of thing that government ought to care about, in the same category as clean restaurants.

The Worst Violation (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416508)

Bush & Co. have not been drawn and quartered for this laundry list of infractions that go DIRECTLY against his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. Yet.

The penalty for Bush & Co. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416590)

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should be deposited unceremoniously and permanently on the streets of Baghdad amidst the people that they "liberated," and there left to enjoy the "gratitude" of their Iraqi friends. Let the people of Iraq decide what to do with the "decider." If Iraq really is as free and as much better off as Bush & Co. continue to claim, I'm sure they'll be, ahem, "greeted as liberators," given a palace and a beer in short order, and will live out their days comfortably...

Misleading article title (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416526)

This is actually just a list of anti-Bush talking points, there are many serious wrongs missing from the list, and many petty "wrongs" added to it.

Re:Misleading article title (2, Insightful)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416608)

I have to say, that really galls me. Any criticism of what the Bush administration does is basically boiled down to "they are just criticizing them because they are anti-Bush". It's a really shameless way to avoid any actual discussion of these issues, and take any merit from them away because the people bringing them up are supposed to be "anti-Bush". Seriously, do you really believe that any criticism of the administration if founded on just being anti-Bush?

Aside from that, please name the serious wrongs missing from the list and the petty wrongs that are added to it. Which "wrongs" do you feel on that list are petty (and why), and which serious wrongs do you feel are not on that list?

Re:Misleading article title (1)

cirby (2599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416772)

I have to say, that really galls me. Any criticism of what the Bush administration does

Then let's call the article "Things That Happened in the US Last Year That Annoyed the Left (even if Bush and his folks had nothing to do with some of them)."

That "any criticism" bit is so very, very weak. It implies that there's very little criticism of the Bush administration going on, instead of the daily, incessant, inaccurate sort of thing we see in the article.

Aside from that, please name the serious wrongs missing from the list and the petty wrongs that are added to it.

Well, there's the Duke rape case (as someone else posted right before your comment, apparently).

The pseudo-science dietary restriction laws are another good case, since the studies they used to justify them are pretty weak to begin with, and the end result is going to have much more negative impact on Americans than most of the things on the list.

A couple of the things on the list ("slagging") are just someone complaining because someone else was complaining about something they support. Note the lack of actual "crimes" in those examples.

The Moussaoui death penalty example is silly, because it's common in major cases to ask for a too-high penalty and then negotiate down to what you wanted to get in the first place. If they hadn't asked for the death penalty, people would be complaining that the case was weak, or they would have asked for it.

Article recap for the lazy (2, Informative)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416534)

"Bush sucks".

Re:Article recap for the lazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17417068)

Marked as flamebait, but it is 100% accurate. I guess you have to beat around the bush (horrible pun intended) to get modded up rather than just coming out and saying it.

I love #2 (0, Flamebait)

Koby77 (992785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416572)

Personally I'd like to know what the author would do in the Ticking Time Bomb scenario; Dahlia probably wouldn't have any answer.

In any case, the number 2 complaint listed is The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which is strange because the author would presumably like to have constitutional protections apply to non citizens captured on a foreign battlefield. Apparently the point of our civil liberties is to protect everyone on earth, including the terrorists, huh?

Re:I love #2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416612)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Emphasis mine.

Re:I love #2 (4, Insightful)

0rbit4l (669001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416618)

Apparently the point of our civil liberties is to protect everyone on earth, including the terrorists, huh?

The stance that the liberties asserted in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights somehow only apply to citizens is flatly at-odds with those documents. Nowhere does it say anything to the effect of "for US Citizens only". Furthermore, these documents go so far as to say that our rights are inherent, by virtue of us being human - not because some government authority (US or otherwise) grants us those rights. Try going back to Civics class, and leave your xenophobia at the door this time.

Re:I love #2 (1)

stevesh6 (1018130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417102)

Amen. The word 'citizen' doesn't appear in the constitution, and it and all it's supporting documents (e.g. the Federalist Papers) make it very clear that the founders considered these rights to be inherent to the people, which means the rights existed before the constitution, and the country itself. Besides, don't we want to demonstrate the value of our principles by extending them to everyone who comes under the control of our system?

Re:I love #2 (5, Insightful)

potat0man (724766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416672)

let me fix this:

Apparently the point of our civil liberties is to protect everyone on earth, including the alleged terrorists, huh?

Yes.

Re:I love #2 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416676)

"Apparently the point of our civil liberties is to protect everyone on earth, including the terrorists, huh?"

Actually, yes, that is the point, and the fact that so many Americans don't understand this is precisely why they will eventually have no civil liberties at all. Because the moment you decide that it's "some men are created equal" rather than "all men are created equal," the only thing left is to decide who the privileged "some" will be... and history tells us that it will always end up being the richest and most powerful, who invariably get that way by being the most despotic.

Human rights for one requires the value of human rights for all. Otherwise, all rights are just granted by whatever dictator happens to be in charge at the moment.

As slanted as it gets.. (0, Flamebait)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416600)

That's all just moveon.org, put your enemies first, self denouncing liberal, forget the UN raping kids type stuff. It's not worth a read at all.

Re:As slanted as it gets.. (4, Interesting)

osgeek (239988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416746)

Although I would agree that this is pretty much a Bush bashing article in its tone, I'm not sure if you can pick and choose your civil liberties defense depending upon which party you normally support. Your civil liberties are rights that can erode quickly without constant and vigorous vigilance.

I'm typically non-religious conservative/libertarian in my mindset, so I don't get into the Bush hating as much as the Moveon.org crowd; but I also see our rights shrinking across the board in the name of "fighting terrorism" and "protecting intellectual property"... I don't see these as good things.

It looks to me like fear and greed are overly dominating our rights to: travel unhindered, make free use of the products we buy, speak our minds, protest against perceived government and corporate wrongs, address real grievances in court, associate freely with whomever(adults) we wish in whatever manner we wish, etc.

I know it's harder to judge harshly the political party you normally support. When it comes to civil liberties, though, there are no political parties. There are the guys supporting them, and then there are the bad guys.

Re:As slanted as it gets.. (1)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417084)

I agree for the most part. I don't even like Bush that much. It never made sense to me to have war in Iraq while the borders are left open for anyone to wander over. The Republicans became self interested and weak. They cave in to the Lefts irrationality way too often. Congress reminds me of a dysfunctional home where a bitter, willful and irrational Mom drives everyone crazy with guilt trips while a whipped Dad sits quietly in the background hoping not to get in trouble.

The Republicans have a sort of false, plastic virtue - but they have the right direction a lot of the time at least. The Democrats however are hate based and they obtain a false virtue by trying to hate things they think are bad. Odd thing is a good person "feels" bad to a lot of spiritual crimianls just like a cop makes criminals feel bad. A lot of liberal sorts come from families where they resented their parents and they tend to transfer the hatred of a parent toward another authority figure (a safe one). The people with great hatred of Bush generally hated a parent (or someone who abused them) first and they could never resolve that so they project it. Now I didn't like Clinton but I didn't hate him so that's the difference. I mean look at almost any a "peace" protest. So many of that crowd are overtly psychotic.

Secretly these people LOVE Bush's mistakes (real or imagined) because they get to FEEL superior. They acquire a compensatory identity via their judgements (a female trait btw. Republicans tend to be more masculine in principle and identity and all the kids who hated their Dads (and this id often encouraged by Moms in dysfunctional homes) tend to hate a Bush and Republicans. This is especially true in Europe which is very feminised.

Of course by hating Bush/Republicans/USA etc the Left can forget its own sins. They are so wrapped up in Guantanamo etc. that they don't even notice when there are reports of UN forces consistently raping women and children on a large scale. It just doesnt suit their skewed character and need for judgement. Of course being rotten themselves they have sympathy for other rotten types and have contempt for anyone who even pays lip service to real virtues. This is why Democrats and Al Qeada share the same nature. Democrats aren't American anymore and they represent her enemies.

They would rather have us all consumed homosexual marriage than self-defense even though homo marriage is one reason the Islamo Facists want to kill us. They are a very irrational and compulsive lot. They are also very intellectual since they have fallen from their intuition and core identity. As they sink into their own emotional and intellectual machinery objectivity grow dim and intellect rises as rationalisations rise to compensate for a fall from grace. They are like pod people in effect. Of course they pay lip service to "civil rights" but its a phony brand. They are hate based and nasty. They don't really give a hoot about Guantanamo and they even use it to "feel" superior and virtuous. If the world became perfect they would go crazy. Slashdot is full of pod people so this sort of crap get play. Anyone who loves this article is telling a lot about their secret nature. It can be fixed but people need to wake up before libs get us all tangled up in psychotic self destruction.

My responses to the Slate article. (3, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416606)

From the top down.

10. Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui
Long after it was clear the hapless Frenchman was neither the "20th hijacker" nor a key plotter in the attacks of 9/11, the government pressed to execute him as a "conspirator" in those attacks. Moussaoui's alleged participation? By failing to confess to what he may have known about the plot, which may have led the government to disrupt it, Moussaoui directly caused the deaths of thousands of people. This massive overreading of the federal conspiracy laws would be laughable were the stakes not so high. Thankfully, a jury rejected the notion that Moussaoui could be executed for the crime of merely wishing there had been a real connection between himself and 9/11.


Yes, "the government" tried to execute someone. Everyone in the entire government was in on it. They all wanted to slay him mercilessly. But wait.. The jury decided against it. Hrmm. And the jury is technically part of "the government". Remember, the three parts of the US government? Yeah, one of them being judicial? Apparently "the government" decided not to execute him after all. Because once you are selected for a jury you are in the government, being paid by the government, performing a government role. So, let's get a little more specific, shall we Slate? It wasn't "The Government" that tried to execute him. It was overzealous prosecutors riding a power-trip straight to hell.

9. Guantanamo Bay
It takes a licking but it keeps on ticking. After the Supreme Court struck down the military tribunals planned to try hundreds of detainees moldering on the base, and after the president agreed that it might be a good idea to close it down, the worst public relations fiasco since the Japanese internment camps lives on. Prisoners once deemed "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth" are either quietly released (and usually set free) or still awaiting trial. The lucky 75 to be tried there will be cheered to hear that the Pentagon has just unveiled plans to build a $125 million legal complex for the hearings. The government has now officially put more thought into the design of Guantanamo's court bathrooms than the charges against its prisoners.
Way to misrepresent the facts. The prisoners were deemed potentially to be the so-called vicious killers. Given the attacks on the USA, can you really expect us not to be at least a little sensitive to the possibility? So we found out many of them weren't. That is why we released them. And, what do you expect, we should yell at the top of our lungs that they were innocent? Nobody really cares. The USA is out for blood after 9/11. If we find people to be innocent we release them. There's really no reason to go out of our way to release them any way *but* quietly.

8. Slagging the Media
Whether the Bush administration is reclassifying previously declassified documents, sidestepping the FOIA, threatening journalists for leaks on dubious legal grounds, or, most recently, using its subpoena power to try to wring secret documents from the ACLU, the administration has continued its "secrets at any price" campaign. Is this a constitutional crisis? Probably not. Annoying as hell? Definitely.
This point at least has some reasonable balance to it. There's no doubt the Bush administration is having serious trouble with their information intelligence. Whether their motives are pure or not we cannot say. Do you have proof they are injuring civil liberties out of mere selfish political drive? I don't see it anywhere if you do.

7. Slagging the Courts
It starts with the president's complaints about "activist judges," and evolves to Congressional threats to appoint an inspector general to oversee federal judges. As public distrust of the bench is fueled, the stripping of courts' authority to hear whole classes of cases--most recently any habeas corpus claims from Guantanamo detainees--almost seems reasonable. Each tiny incursion into the independence of the judiciary seems justified. Until you realize that the courts are often the only places that will defend our shrinking civil liberties. This leads to ...
If we ultimately rely on the courts to defend our civil liberties then we as citizens have failed democracy. Not enough people care enough to go out and vote. Not enough people are active enough to contribute to the voice of the country. If it stays this way, and doesn't change when too many civil liberties have vanished, there is nothing at all the courts will be able to do for us. Has this democracy already become an illusion?

6. The State-Secrets Doctrine
The Bush administration's insane argument in court is that judges should dismiss entire lawsuits over many of the outrages detailed on this very list. Why? Because the outrageously illegal things are themselves matters of top-secret national security. The administration has raised this claim in relation to its adventures in secret wiretapping and its fun with extraordinary rendition. A government privilege once used to sidestep civil claims has mushroomed into sweeping immunity for the administration's sometimes criminal behavior.
Again, like the point above. When the majority of people in the country refuse to take the necessary steps to make their voices heard, this is the result. We can blame it all on the Bush administration if we want, but they're only doing what the people are allowing them to do.

5. Government Snooping
Take your pick. There's the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program wherein the president breezily authorized spying on the phone calls of innocent citizens, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The FBI's TALON database shows the government has been spying on nonterrorist groups, including Quakers, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Veterans for Peace. The Patriot Act lives on. And that's just the stuff we know about.

4. Extraordinary Rendition
So, when does it start to become ordinary rendition? This government program has us FedEx-ing unindicted terror suspects abroad for interrogation/torture. Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, was shipped off to Afghanistan for such treatment and then released without charges, based on some government confusion about his name. Heh heh. Canadian citizen Maher Arar claims he was tortured in Syria for a year, released without charges, and cleared by a Canadian commission. Attempts to vindicate the rights of such men? You'd need to circle back to the state-secrets doctrine, above.
More crying about civil liberties that were supposedly taken from us when in fact they were given away.

3. Abuse of Jose Padilla
First, he was, according to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, "exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or 'dirty bomb,' in the United States." Then, he was planning to blow up apartments. Then he was just part of a vague terror conspiracy to commit jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya. Always, he was a U.S. citizen. After three and a half years, in which he was denied the most basic legal rights, it has now emerged that Padilla was either outright tortured or near-tortured. According to a recent motion, during Padilla's years of almost complete isolation, he was treated by the U.S. government to sensory and sleep deprivation, extreme cold, stress positions, threats of execution, and drugging with truth serum. Experts say he is too mentally damaged to stand trial. The Bush administration supported his motion for a mental competency assessment, in hopes that will help prevent his torture claims from ever coming to trial, or, as Yale Law School's inimitable Jack Balkin put it: "You can't believe Padilla when he says we tortured him because he's crazy from all the things we did to him."
More of the same. I am beginning to see a pattern here. All these anti-Bush-administration points. I almost wish a Liberal had been elected President just so we could be talking about how they wanted to take away our right to bear arms and other inalienable contitutional rights.

2. The Military Commissions Act of 2006
This was the so-called compromise legislation that gave President Bush even more power than he initially had to detain and try so-called enemy combatants. He was generously handed the authority to define for himself the parameters of interrogation and torture and the responsibility to report upon it, since he'd been so good at that. What we allegedly did to Jose Padilla was once a dirty national secret. The MCA made it the law.
The line between interrogation and torture has always been blurry. At least President Bush tells the nation what his definition is of both. I am not defending Bush's many mistakes. I pointing out that most of this couldn't have happened if the people in the United States of America cared enough to stop it. The President is not an all-powerful god. He CAN be impeached. If these issues were considered important enough to stop by the people of the USA then why haven't the people of the USA risen up and stopped them? Seriously, I want to know.

1. Hubris
Whenever the courts push back against the administration's unsupportable constitutional ideas--ideas about "inherent powers" and a "unitary executive" or the silliness of the Geneva Conventions or the limitless sweep of presidential powers during wartime--the Bush response is to repeat the same chorus louder: Every detainee is the worst of the worst; every action taken is legal, necessary, and secret. No mistakes, no apologies. No nuance, no regrets. This legal and intellectual intractability can create the illusion that we are standing on the same constitutional ground we stood upon in 2001, even as that ground is sliding away under our feet.
Even as the ground is sliding away under our feet. Even as we as citizens do nothing to stop it? Or maybe we have a reason for our inaction. Maybe, in some small corner of their minds the people are still very pissed off about 9/11 and the jihad washing the world with blood over in the Middle East. At least one country is willing to stand up and say enough is enough: Stop killing each other. Stop threatening other countries with complete annihilation. Stop with your religious wars and terrorist actions. Stop.

Yes, we've made mistakes. Yes, we've probably violated the basic civil rights of many people. I am completely against those violations. However, I find it reprehensible to assume that the Bush administration is able to do this freely. There is clearly a lack of effort by the people of the USA against the actions of the administration. There is a lack of concern over the general situation. If there wasn't, I believe it would change. Is it because people are able to see what is coming? That the jihad, centered squarely on one of the most energy-rich regions in the world, is going to wreak havoc across the globe? Do people maybe, just maybe, think it's time we did something about it? Do you think it's time we did something about it? Or do you think we should just sit here, across the globe, and wait for it to get to us, like it did on 9/11?

If you think the civil liberties violations should stop, and be reversed, get up off your ass and do something about it. There are too many complacent people in the world right now, and I am going to go ahead and make a prediction: Before long that complacency is going to bite the very ass you sit on.

TLF

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (1)

Edward Ka-Spel (779129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416702)

"Again, like the point above. When the majority of people in the country refuse to take the necessary steps to make their voices heard, this is the result. We can blame it all on the Bush administration if we want, but they're only doing what the people are allowing them to do."

"More crying about civil liberties that were supposedly taken from us when in fact they were given away"

So it's not Bush's (or Congresses) fault. It's our fault for electing them? I guess I can't argue with that.

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (4, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416832)

Given the attacks on the USA, can you really expect us not to be at least a little sensitive to the possibility? So we found out many of them weren't. That is why we released them.

Actually, we did not release most of the people who were released from Guantanamo Bay, we shipped them to other countries for "rendition" and those countries let them go. Furthermore, that court hasn't even been built, we haven't "found out" anything either way. Innocent until proven guilty is a great idea, shame the Republicans only believe in it when DeLay is getting hammered by their worldview.

Do you have proof they are injuring civil liberties out of mere selfish political drive?

What would that proof mean to you? That it's OK to "injure civil liberties" as long as you're not being selfish about it?

Not enough people are active enough to contribute to the voice of the country.

The voice of the country is perfectly healthy these days as long as you toe the party lines. Suggest after 9/11 that the pentagon was a valid military target, and even though it would have been the act of war that could have justified everything that followed, you end up getting death threats because that's not the politically expedient thing to suggest while the administration twists and grasps for any other excuse to go to war. In the years following that, over and over the same thing: if you don't say we're winning and things are going great, you're "aiding and abetting the enemy", grounds for a capital offense of treason, I believe. The only difference is that later, the threat was to use the power of government to execute you, rather than the suggestion that someone might break into your house at night and stab you in your sleep.

Since this is about "activist courts" I'll throw in the observation that Bush's "signing statements" have been every bit as activist as the justices he decries. "Legislating from the White House" has no basis whatsoever in the Constitution, which specifically gives him the power to veto bills he does not like. The rest, he has sworn to faithfully execute.

The rest of your post is the same pointless parroting "it couldn't have happened if the people didn't want it to". This, of course, can excuse anything from murder to p2p filesharing. The fact that we are "a nation of laws, not of men" is lost on you, Bush, and the rest of the die-hard Republicans. I'll believe that the "people wanted it to happen" when the Republicans obey the legally defined constitutional amendment process and set the laws of our nation to permit these things.

Until then, we're going to be stuck listening to the same blowhards that have been spouting off the last 5 years. They'll be begging the Democrats not to impeach Bush over "partisan bickering" and it will probably work. These masses will hear about how changing presidents mid-war will be a sign of weakness (just like any other company, if a person quitting mid project or getting hit by a bus kills the company, you were doing it wrong), and they'll believe it. These masses will be told that the people complaining about Joseph Padilla, Maher Arar, international wiretaps, domestic call tracking, torture, and so on and so forth... they all want the terrorists to win and Americans to die, and they'll buy it.

And so the world turns...

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417018)

The fact that we are "a nation of laws, not of men" is lost on you, Bush, and the rest of the die-hard Republicans.


First, I am not a die-hard Republican. Are you a die-hard Liberal?

Second, "a nation of laws, not of men" misses an important point about humankind. Humans won't follow laws if they don't believe in them. They won't blindly believe a law is to be followed. People evaluate laws on a personal level based on their own values. The collective of personal evaluations across the country is what leads to whether or not a law is accepted.

In case you haven't noticed, the Constituion doesn't describe laws. It describes freedoms.

TLF

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416884)

If every congressman, and senator got a letter from even 5% of their constituents (given how few actually write), there would likely be changes... not a letter bashing the bush administration, or everything on the list.. but citing a few specific examples to one area, and pointing out your view, things would change...

You are right though, most people really don't care... and won't do anything about it.. despite there being things that *could* be done.. petition, writing campaigns.. but still, people would rather sit on their respective asses and complain.

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416944)

Very well put, I agree fully.

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (1)

kelleher (29528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417056)

If we ultimately rely on the courts to defend our civil liberties then we as citizens have failed democracy. Not enough people care enough to go out and vote. Not enough people are active enough to contribute to the voice of the country. If it stays this way, and doesn't change when too many civil liberties have vanished, there is nothing at all the courts will be able to do for us. Has this democracy already become an illusion?
Although I don't agree with your entire response, this is a very good point. Too many people want to assign blame and whine about the current state of affairs - it's not enough. The government (supposedly) works for us and if there's a problem we need to fix it. Whining won't change anything.

Re:My responses to the Slate article. (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417116)

Regardless of whose fault these things are, they are still atrocities. Jose Padilla's torture is not justified simply because the majority of the people ineffectively elected government officials.

And you want people to get off their asses to change things? Bringing up these issues in a news article is one way to do that.

How did the song go? (4, Insightful)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416630)

I for one, am happy to be a European right now - although the Blair Government is currently contemplating putting people predispositioned to crime in jail before they actually commit a crime. Nice....
Anyway, some people in Washington may need a reminder [wikipedia.org] of what they claim the USA is about:

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Guess what's missing from this Slate Top 10 list? (2, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416640)

From Steve Sailer [blogspot.com] :
Yeah, you guessed it: DA Mike Nifong's Hunt for the Great White Defendants [vdare.com] in the Duke Lacrosse Frame-Up is a no-show. You see, the long-running pattern of hate crime hoaxes victimizing white male college students is nothing compared to, say, #8 on Lithwick's List, the Bush Administration "Slagging the Media."

In recent news, the hoax continues to implode. Nifong dropped the rape charges but is pressing on with other felony charges. Meanwhile, the North Carolina State Bar is investigating Nifong for ethics violations [time.com] . And now the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has asked him to recuse [americanthinker.com] himself from the case.

Not an attack on civil liberties (2, Insightful)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417008)

I have felt bad for the Duke Lacrosse program and its players from the start, if only because I recognized the case as a probable "Tawana Brawley" incident early on. For those who don't know. Tawana Brawley was a teenager in Wappingers Falls, NY who made wild rape accusations a generation ago. The owners of the gas station that was a focus of her accusations were eventually vindated, but lost their business in the process.

The appearance is now real, but that doesn't make the Duke lacross players who were charged victims of an attack on civil liberties. They are victims of what a false accusation of a sex crime. Such accusations are serious, not particularly uncommon, and often hinge on "she said, he said" evidence rather than the testimony of third parties. Actually, if you take out the unfortunate press coverage, which transformed what should have been a quiet investigation into the death of a Lacross program, the firing of a coach, and the transformation of an entire team of lacross players into persona non grata in the schools they tried to transfer to, the system actually worked pretty close to the way it should. At this point the only problem is that the prosecution has been taken too far (something that is not all that uncommon).

It must be admitted, however, that there is one huge difference here from other cases. Paying strippers to perform at a party created an impression of wanton sexuality and out of control behavior that made the accusations extremely plausible. Unless you feel that bringing strippers to parties is a "civil liberty", this case comes closer to being a candidate for the Darwin awards than anything else.

At this point, there is just about nobody associated with the case that one can't feel bad for. I think that's particularly true of the prosecutor who, having been stuck between a rock and a hard place the entire time, now faces disbarment. For what its worth, the Tawana Brawley case wound up in about the same place, with the prosecutor in that case ultimately accused of being a racist and rapist (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawana_Brawley [wikipedia.org] ).

Look at number three on the list for an attack on civil liberties that makes the Duke case look like a little blip on the radar.

Waxman is coming back, and so is oversight (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416718)

Check out the Committee on Government Reform, United States House of Representatives, Minority Office [house.gov] . This is the official view of congressional Democrats of what the administration has been doing wrong. They're the minority office, so they can't do much except update their web site.

On Tuesday, they become the Majority Office. Congressman Waxman becomes committee chair. Investigations will start shortly thereafter. We're going to see plenty of Administration officials being asked hard questions. Under oath. On TV. That's how Waxman works.

"As set forth in House Rule X, clause 4, the Committee on Government Reform may, at any time, conduct investigations of any matter regardless of whether another standing committee has jurisdiction over the matter."

Outrageous (1)

bill_of_wrongs (761897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416762)

The author of this article has stolen my intellectual property, I demand compensation ! ;)

oh boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416766)

Poor terrorists, we're violating their "civil liberties". Remember the freedom fighters that the terrorists hung from a bridge in Falujah? How about their "civil liberties"...

Re:oh boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416780)

You mean the murderous imperial invaders working for multinational corporations and colonial despots? They got what they deserved. Every man and woman in the "volunteer army" should stand trial for war crimes, Bush first among them.

Prisoner rape should have topped the list (4, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416776)

Readers of slashdot, typically "nerdy" males, are the ones most directly targeted by the government's unofficial policy of tolerating racist gang rape of the least "street smart" or gang affiliated in its prison system. This functions to keep the most dangerous element of the population, technologists, in a state of perpetual terror of the government's wrath, not unlike the terror experienced by the denizens of George Orwell's "1984" who live under the subtle but continual threat of their worst fears in the Inner Party's "Room 101 [wikipedia.org] ".

When pressure came from Human Rights Watch [hrw.org] the US government's response was to pass a "Prisoner rape elimination act" the chief result of which was to commission a study by one Mark Fleisher, who concludes that, get this [spr.org] :

sexual pressure ushers, guides or shepherds the process of sexual awakening.
So the way your government retreats from its threat of having some ethnic gang make you its bitch and infect you with Hepatitis C if not AIDS while sexually torturing you because you're a technologist who got out of line, is to claim that you aren't being raped, you are experiencing "sexual awakening".

This should have topped the list and of course, since American technologists don't count (just look at the H-1b and outsourcing riots trashing their ability to support families) it didn't appear anywhere

Missing from the list... (1, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416792)

Hmm... I guess human rights violations only happen in the USA! I don't know why anyone wants to live here! After all, the Sudan, Somalia, Iran, China, Cuba, and North Korea are much better places to live! You don't have to worry about religious or ideological persecution there!

Redundant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416856)

...alas I miss my mod points now. Your post is very redundant and is often used by people to silence any discussion. Same as saying : "Let all immigrants stay" - "No, then we will all lose our *jobs*, and we don't want to lose our *jobs* now do we ?". In Slashdottish, this is called FUD.

Re:Missing from the list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416908)

Hooray, the USA is better than Somalia, I guess we don't need to make any improvements at all.

Is that seriously the best argument you can come up with? That we're better than a collection of the poorest or most oppressive countries? Do you really think that we should not criticize one aspect of the United States of America's government until it becomes at least as much of a hellhole of North Korea? Wouldn't it be better to start criticizing a bit before that point so that we could maybe turn things around before we turn into a totalitarian hellhole that starves its citizens by the million?

Re:Missing from the list... (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416930)

Also missing from the list is what businesses are doing to us. I can't think of one thing on that list that directly affects me. However, there are numerous things that big companies are doing to us that directly affect me.

  • Disclosure of searches by aol, yahoo, etc.
  • Music industry invading our computers with root kits
  • Movie companies limiting our ability to play movies we own.
  • Insecurity at companies holding confidential data

About the only thing that the government has done, that has directly affected me, is increased security measures at airports. A minor inconvenience that has worked so far!

Re:Missing from the list... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17417000)

A minor inconvenience that has worked so far!

For only $10 I'll sell you this rock that keeps tigers away.

Re:Missing from the list... (4, Insightful)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417030)

What a stupid fucking argument. Who said said that such violations happen only in the USA? Nobody did. Saying 'XYZ is worse than us' when the article is about the US means jack shit. The fact that you're somehow proud that you're beating North Korea for human rights is very telling. You should compare yourself to the best, not the worst, if you want to prove your excellence.

If you were a true patriot you'd be looking for ways to improve your country, not waving the flag and shouting 'BUT WE'RE STILL BEATING CUBA, YEEEEAHHHH!'

What about NY and LA times?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416864)

Journalists hiding behind their cloak of secrecy as an excuse to divulge national security secrest is apalling. Furthermore, people who choose to put their heads in the sand and ignore these atrocoties are pathetic anti-patriots whom I feel do not deserve the priveledge of being an American citizen.

Not to mention the likes of Sandy Berger committing crimes punishable by DEATH. The current theory as to why Sandy Burgler has not been indicted is that Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton could have been implicated and the resulting scandal would make the U.S. look bad. There is also a lot of speculation that Berger and Clinton were not tried because they struck a deal with other politicians who would have had their dirty laundry aired if a deal could not be reached.

Sad sad sad.
 

Whatever (0, Troll)

GypC (7592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416934)

This has nothing to do with "Your rights online", nothing to do with geekitude, it's just a partisan bump of a partisan shill.

Horseshit, I say.

Point out the unconstitutionality of citizen disarmament and wealth redistribution, and these same brave defenders of the Constitution start babbling about living documents and suicide pacts.

Oh, and Taco? Slate? Are you fucking serious? Get a life.

Only terrorists get the love. (1)

bumptehjambox (886036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417022)

What is this crap! Jose Padilla, Moussaoui, Guantanamo Bay... Are those involved in terrorism cases the only ones these liberals care about? Call me crazy, but I think it is a far bigger outrage when American Policemen shoot an innocent person with every bullet in their guns, dead, no trial, just dead and no one cares. Why do people only care about protecting suspected terrorists? Is terrorism just the new counter-culture? Why is this whole list about Muslims?

Civil Liberties Lost Forever? (1)

lcreech (1491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417060)

With the Bush administration claiming and acting as if we are at war, "The War Against Terror" and relinquinshing our rights without due process, when will we ever not be at war? With this attitude we have lost our Civil Liberties forever and becoming just like cold war era Soviet Russia. The more things change, the more we are becoming the same.

The author's hotmail address in the article doesn't appear to be working, conspirocy theories anyone,LOL.

L

When will Republicans step up: impeachment (0)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17417098)

I see a lot of sidestepping going on in this discussion. It remains that

  1. This list is about civil liberties in the U.S. You can find lots of lists about problems in other places. Bringing up anything outside the U.S. is simply a distraction or failure to take responsibility.
  2. This list is about systematic attacks on your civil liberties. None of the alternatives I've seen raised (bans on trans-fats and smoking; the tragedy of the Duke Lacrosse team) even come close on a scale of attacks on YOUR freedom.
  3. An individual ceases to be an "alleged" terrorist only when he/she has been convicted of being one. We have courts for reasons. One of the most important of those reasons is to protect YOU from false charges.

That said, when is the Republican party going to step up and impeach this administration. They are out of control. They don't take the congressional or judicial direction they are required to take under the constitution, and they are undermining what is supposed to be their own libertarian agenda. The Democrats can't impeach Bush and company without being plastered with accusations of partisanship, but the Republicans can, and its about time that they did. Among other things the party would regain some measure of credibility.

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