Jason's Blog

A longwinded political rant…

by on Jun.25, 2004, under Politics

I had to post a response to a comment made earlier. This is in response to my post [“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”] regarding the treatment of a foreign journalist at one of our airports. I feel I have to respond for a few reasons.

  1. First, I massively disagree with the comment – particularly when I read it a few times and thought about what was said, and how blind I feel it to be to things going on. This is JUST my feelings on the issue, but it’s something I do feel strongly about.
  2. Second, what I feel to be very callous in it’s disregard for the person involved in this situation.
  3. Third, a general belief that many Americans are accepting restrictions on our rights in the belief that what’s being done isn’t all “that bad” when compared to protecting us.
  4. Last, just general outrage at the use of 9/11 as justification for this countries current use of what I consider terror tactics.

I’ll have my “response” here in a moment, but first here’s the comment in it’s original form:

wait a sec. terrorists take over airplanes, crash into buildings, kill lots of people, and change our world…but you think it’s unfair this woman got detained?

i’m not denying some of the officials weren’t nice, but frankly, i’d rather have them be overly careful than too lax. She did fail to mark that she was a representative of the media and she HAD lived all over. i’m not saying that automatically makes her a member of al-Quaida, but i’d rather have the authorities working their asses off to make SURE of that before just letting anyone and everyone into the country.

yes, they could be nicer, but come on – she wouldn’t get NEARLY as nice of treatment in parts of the middle east, asia, and africa.

you can always move to the UK…just be prepared to wait six months next time you need surgery on your shoulder. public health care for all is a great concept, but it involves a lot of wait time. a lot.

So, here’s my response, and why I think this is an INSANE point of view. First, let me point out – THESE ARE MY THOUGHTS, NOT LAW. I’m almost disgusted that someone could find this treatment of another human being as acceptible. To me, this treatment although not to the level of the prison scandal in Iraq, is still abhorid. There are too many similarities for my comfort… Anyways, on to my response.

RESPONSE

First, I think it’s not fair how this woman was treated, pure and simple. Yes, we had terrorists strike us. Do you think it’s right when we become terrorists ourselves in return? When we become nearly as evil as the people who started this? I do think it’s unfair this woman got detained in THE WAY SHE DID. Read the article on the shit that happened to her. We don’t even treat animals this way, yet because we were attacked, you think it’s right to treat people like total shit??? Detaining a person to do a further background check is one things. But,

“Three female officers arrived to do a body search. As they slipped on rubber gloves, I blenched: what were they going to do, and could I resist?” (thankfully, she reported this as not being a huge ordeal, but I still think it was more unreasonable treatment)


“These would have been comforting thoughts the following morning when I was driven back (in handcuffs, of course) to the communal detention room at LAX, and spent hours waiting, withou t food, while the guards munched enormous breakfasts and slurped hot morning drinks (detainees are not allowed tea or coffee). I incurred the wrath of the boss when I insisted on edible food. “I’m in charge in here. Do you know who you are? Do you know where you are? This isn’t a hotel,” he screamed.”

Is screaming at a person in custody a valid response? Denying them food of their choosing? Doing a body search? A LOT of the treatment she received is to me just wrong. Detain her, do a background check, but don’t strip another person of his or her rights and basic dignity, don’t treat them like an animal, just because some animals attacked us. This is JUST WRONG, no matter whether it’s done in the name of “protection” or in trying to prevent terrorism.

Frankly, I’m sick of the view that because of 9/11, any and all behavior and treatment of people is allowed to “protect us”, that the tyrany being expressed is a valid response to tyrany against the United States. I think that it is in an insane view, and an insane response. Why become terrorists in response to a terrorist attack, why choose hate, fear, etc. instead of the liberties which have allowed us to progress, which so many in the world once envied us for. Why choose such a path instead of the better path we’ve always chosen? From what I’ve been hearing, from talking to friends over seas, envy isn’t a high thing right now for the US. We’re still envied in some countries, but in many places, it’s no longer envy – it’s disgust, hatred, fear, loathing, and things I never thought anyone would think about this country. The sad thing is when I hear about things like the prison scandal, read stories like this, hear of the abuse being done and approved of, I tend to feel the same disgust, to feel shame that my country could do such acts, shame that many people could find this justified. I’ll say some more on other countries here in a moment, but let me say this one last thing on the use of these tactics.

Once you start fighting terrorism using terror, heavy restrictions, strip searching everyone, curfews, national id database where every move you make is flagged, a system to monitor you at all times, etc. etc. etc.. at what point do the restrictions stop? You’re in essence becoming a dictator state, a state where people are afraid to say what they think, where freedom of press, freedom of speech, and many other freedoms we enjoy are being restricted to no purpose. Yes, we have the 1st ammendments, the bill of rights in its totality, but when a person can be stopped, searched, taken into custody for expressing a viewpoint that differentiates them from his neighbors, and that’s the ONLY justification for it, how is that anything other than a restriction on the first ammendment? Sure, he may get out, he may not be prosecuted, but harassment, the treatment is an attack on our civil liberties. How long before a person who is monitored because he said something different stops saying such things? How long till the fear of what you say identifying you as a “potential terrorist” prevents people from stating what they think and feel? How is it right that because a person says what they think or feel that they become potential criminals? I could have sworn that we had the right to say what we felt without fear of discrimination, fear of reprisal. Course, that was before the attacks on the Bill of Rights started. I say that right now, things like the Patriot Act, and the view that monitoring people based upon criteria is an attack on our rights and an horrible invasion of privacy for no real gain.

The thing that scares me is this is happening RIGHT NOW. Now quite to the extreme I’ve painted above, but it is happening. I don’t know if anyone else realizes it, but here’s one example. There’s already been discussion of a national ID card system which can track your every move. I’ve heard of numerous other things in the technical market, and that’s just part of society. Now, I apologize for extending the scope of this argument beyond the foreign visitor story, but I feel it’s needed as her treatment was one aspect of an overall problem. Her treatment is just a sign of this problem. And the response that it was ok in this case, that acceptance of such behaviors is a further sign to me of a massive problem – that of accepting tyranny and fear as a valid method to combat terrorism. Frankly, I feel that this is one situation where there is no middle ground – either we have freedom, or we have tyranny. If you only see one aspect of tyrany, one intrusion, you’re blinding yourself and allowing yourself to become a victim to other tyrannies. Thus, I feel it’s important to comment on other restrictions on freedom which apply to citizens of this nation, not just foreign visitors.

I apologize for the side note and expansion, so let me go on to the comment of “overly careful” for a moment. If her treatment is just a simple “overly careful” I’m deathly afraid of what paranoid would be, or of what extremely careful would be. Calling the treatment of this woman as “overly careful” is disgusting. As said, we dont’ treat animals this way – how is it good to be “overly careful” when it’s treating a human being like they’re dirt??? I can’t accept this as being a good thing. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Many say we should we be overstrict, that we be extremely restrictive on who we let in, or go that this kind of attitude is acceptible. But, the problem is once you start down that path “forever will it dominate your destiny”. It’s a dark, windy road to follow, because if we accept one such tyranny, how long till others follow? The price of liberty is death, often the death of those who believe in it, but that’s a price much better than tyrany and oppresion of people. I’d rather sacrifice my life for the liberty than allow tyranny to affect all of us, because then it’s a true sacrifice of life – the sacrifice of our way of life. Better to accept sacrifices of life, to give our lives to what this country has stood for than the price of safety – that of becoming the animals ourselves.

A last few notes. The comment of “yes, they could be nicer, but come on – she wouldn’t get nearly as nice of treatment in parts of the middle east, asia, and africa.” is in some ways what scares me most. Hmm, think about this for just a moment. How many of those are terrorist states? Dictatorships? Places where freedoms are so restricted you can’t even say what you think or feel without fear of recrimination? I’m sorry, “wouldn’t get nearly as nice of treatment” elsewhere is complete bullshit. If that’s a valid reason to treat people like this, then this is NOT a country I want to be in. Not when in the end or it’s considered acceptible that we’re barely above the level of dictatorship, communism, etc. If that’s the viewpoint of many in this country, I argue that they should go to another country where that has always been the viewpoint, NOT corrupt the traditions of liberty and democracy held here.

And, on a last note discussing healthcare issues in this country. With regards to the UK and waiting six moths, here’s something to consider. My health care has already been jacking me around on paying for treatments, such as physical therapy, xrays, visiting the doctors for followups, billing, etc. etc. A LOT of other people have been totally denied treatments. There was just the case the Supreme Court just ruled on in favor of HMO’s having the right to deny treatment to customers. (As a note, I do think by law, that it’s correct, but I also think HMO’s are a rotten health care system). Frankly, I’d rather wait six months for my treatment or surgery, but have everyone with health care and decent care, than have my surgery more immediately. Consider how MANY people are without ANY medical coverage. Then consider even if you do have insurance how many treatments are not covered. Consder the people who are sick and dying because it would be too expensive for the HMO. Consider how many people have a hard time getting help right now. Frankly, I’m willing to wait on treatment for a few months, if it means so many others get treated. I do think this country needs a massive reform of the healthcare system. Right now, money is the primary motive for healthcare – NOT keeping people healthy, not taking care of people, treating them, and make their lives better.

Ok, I apologize for the long winded rant, with lots of rhretoric, but there are some things I feel so strongly about, that I can’t help but express myself by going into a rant. Particularly when I see the attrocities that people accept. It’s just disgusting to me. Please, feel free to leave comments, say what you think – I welcome commentary, but let’s TRY and keep things civil – no personal attacks here, or I WILL delete the comment. I’ve already come closer to a personal attack than I wish, but I did my best to avoid it. I expect commentors here to do the same.


2 Comments for this entry

  • Austgen

    I LIKE HOT POCKETS!!!!

  • tanya

    i wasn’t trying to get personal.  just offering another point of view.  i read her article completely, and while i do agree that she wasn’t treated *well*, i still don’t think she was terrorized.

    and i also know about health care costs and things not being covered.  it’s a big reason why my parents are the people i know who are the most broke.  and they still believe they get better healthcare with private insurance than they would with government healthcare.

    and btw, if you go to university hospital, they will not deny treatment to ANYONE.  it’s on the sign by the elevators.

    health care costs are out of control…but i think the problem is with malpractice suits.  i’m not saying that all malpractice suits are bunk, but i do think there are a lot that aren’t worthwhile, and the amounts of money people are getting are out of control.

    at the very least, i do understand the healthcare system.  intimately.

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