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NJCubScouter

The "Patriot Act" and the freedom to read

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Adrian, basically what you are saying is that I shouldn't worry about one particular action by the government because there are other actions by the government that are more worrisome. I guess the short answer is, I'll worry about how far the government can go in snooping on people, and you can worry about the government telling you where to raise chickens. (I understand that the chickens were just an example, but when I thought of that sentence, I couldn't help myself.)

People can obviously disagree or agree with me about whether the Patriot Act is something to be concerned about, but I don't know what the point is of saying it is "the least of our concerns." I guess most of us, including me, have sort of internalized the fact that the government exists, and that it regulates and taxes people and businesses, including zoning laws that are sometimes unfriendly to chicken-raising and other pursuits. You apparently have not. I guess another way of saying this is that most people expect the government to tax and regulate, have accepted it as part of the kind of government we have, and have learned to live with it even if we don't necessarily like all aspects of it. However, we (I guess that's the editorial we) have not learned to live with the government snooping into what we are reading or looking at on our computers, and we don't view that as being inherent in our governmental system. And you, on the other hand, have not learned to live with the taxing and the regulating.

 

As a result, when I raise an issue of government snooping, most other people say either, right, that's bad (or something to be concerned about), or it's not bad because it's necessary to do this to catch the bad guys. It is only you who adds, but what what about the taxing and the regulating. For most of the rest of us, these are sleeping dogs.

 

However, Adrian, since I have known "libertarians" my entire adult life, I do understand the obsession, even though I don't share it.

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Its Trail Day says:

 

You can collect all the info you want but how it is used is the issue. If any information is collected improperly a judge will exclude it from trial so it can't be used.

 

Your second sentence is generally true although the "exclusionary rule" has some exceptions and loopholes to it. But I think it misses the point. I have not been talking about people who commit crimes. I actually don't have a problem if the government restricts itself to collecting and using "data" for legitimate law enforcement purposes. I want the "bad guys" caught as much as anyone else.

 

My issue is that I think that there is too much of a potential for the "use" of the information to go beyond those legitimate purposes. And i'm not making up some fantasy here, I am looking back only 30+ years and seeing what the government actually did in an overreaction to protest by some of its citizens, and imagining how that might play out today, when the amount of information in databases, and the speed and sophistication in accessing it, sorting it and finding "patterns" in it, have increased exponentially. I guess this will come across as partisan, but when I listen to someone like John Ashcroft, I really don't get much of a warm fuzzy feeling that assures me that all of this information will be used for proper purposes. The thing with John Poindexter and the "privatizing" of the data-mining initiative, discussed by someone else earlier, only add to that concern.

 

So, ITD, "how it is used" is indeed the issue, but the criminal justice system and its "exclusionary rule" do not provide the solution. So I'm still stuck back on the first part of the sentence, "You can collect all the info you want." I'd like the government, and each particular part of the government, to have only the information it needs to have, with restrictions on its use. As I suggested in an earlier post, maybe I am just old-fashioned in a pre-9/11 sort of way and perhaps a pre-"information superhighway" sort of way.

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I'd like to see us spend more time figuring out why people in foriegn countries hate Americans, and less time figuring out how to protect ourselves from them.

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"However, we (I guess that's the editorial we) have not learned to live with the government snooping into what we are reading or looking at on our computers.."

 

 

I agree completely. If the Patriot Act allowed the government to snoop into what we are reading or looking at on our computers, I would be concerned very much. The issue at hand, however, is what we (or anyone else) are checking out of a public facility and typing on a public computer. It is not the same.

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"I'd like to see us spend more time figuring out why people in foriegn countries hate Americans, and less time figuring out how to protect ourselves from them."

 

Do you want the Freudian answer or the theological one? Do you think that the US government officials should make pilgrimages to Mecca and the tomb of Lenin on their knees instead of working on national defense? You seem to know why Americans are hated; why don't you enlighten us? While you're at it, tell us how many American civilians have to be killed to pay for our nation's sins. The enemies seem to indicate that total annhiliation is necessary. I hope that your answer is somewhat more reasonable.

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"I'd like to see us spend more time figuring out why people in foreign countries hate Americans, and less time figuring out how to protect ourselves from them."

 

In a previous professional life I had the opportunity to travel fairly extensively. I spent time working in Europe, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China, Taiwan, Columbia and Canada. I was usually the lone American working with local contacts. Everywhere I have ever traveled I have been well received as an American and have encountered very friendly people. I did encounter a rude waitress in Canada once, but she was French Canadian. Overall from my perspective I can't agree that people hate Americans. Sure, there are some foreign bigots that will hate someone just for being an American, but they are a very small, but sometimes vocal minority.

 

However, there are many opinions on our government's foreign policies.

 

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ScouterPaul,

I don't think the Patriot Act gives the government carte blanche. We are still protected by the Constitution. The government can gather all the data they want. They have been doing it for years! I've said it before & I'll say it again, I have nothing to hide so gather away!

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10(This message has been edited by evmori)

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And yes, raising chickens was a purely hypothetical example.

 

May I assume that your example of what you are looking at on the public computer was hypothetical as well?

 

 

Obsession? That I find government ownership of one's home more intrusive than government access to public library records is hardly an obsession. I do see evidence for obsessions, delusions of persecution and delusions of reference on this page, however.

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" We are still protected by the Constitution."

 

Sorta, kinda. The Constitution doesn't really come into play until the Supreme Court gets into the game. Lower courts can make rulings but those can be overturned on appeal and only effect the area covered by that court.

 

It can take decades for an issue to reach the Supremes.

 

 

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"No one knows it exists"

 

Forgive my rudeness, but Canada is quite recognized. Though most Americans are quite ignorant of it, you depend on us almost as much as we depend on you. Your northern states would be in quite a pickle without trade with us. Canada and the US breath together economically, you can see it if you look at any business cycle graph over the last 100 years.

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NJ

Sorry this reply took so long. Your concerns are noted, however how do we give Gov. what it needs for our security and protect ourselves from abuse. Which does happen. I dont know the answer except to look at each case by it self. As I stated in another thread, both sides of the political spectrum are capable of misuse of power be it through political correctness or Government action. Look at the latest comments in the news on radio content. As a wise man stated many years ago The price of liberty is vigilance I would add not Vigilantism.

 

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