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"First they came..."

October 1, 2001 8:22 PM   Subscribe

"First they came..."
Just a friendly reminder for all those folks who think it is somehow acceptable to allow the US government to infringe upon our civil liberties in the name of...[fill in the blank].
posted by mapalm (17 comments total)

 
I posted this in response to this recent thread in which I heard so many voices rationalizing the truly frightening efforts of the government to curtail our hard-won rights.

As Ben Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
posted by mapalm at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2001


I concur. Only in accepting risk can we guarantee our freedom. To quote Solzhenitsyn "If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?" (The First Circle, Thomas P. Whitney, translator).
posted by sierray at 8:43 PM on October 1, 2001


This is also an important link because it corrects thousands of accumulated misquotations over the years. The original text is clearer and more to the point. But the many hundreds of people who slowly transformed it into the first, more universal, quotation, did a great job...

The process is fascinating. It's a sort of universal editing procedure. Everyone knows Moliére, for instance, did not actually say "I disagree with what you say, Sir, but I'll die fighting for your right to say it". But the incorrect quotation stood the test of time and still serves its purpose, just like Martin Niemõller's. Even here at MeFi.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:43 PM on October 1, 2001


Speaking of editing quotes over time, does anyone know the original form of that Benjamin Franklin quote? A quick Google search brings up a bunch of different versions.
posted by whatnotever at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2001


I posted these quotes to generate discussion on their content, not semantics...but I must admit that I enjoy MeFi tangents.
posted by mapalm at 8:52 PM on October 1, 2001


I agree that we cannot allow Civil Liberties to be taken away, whether or not they directly affect as. Right now, there is a large debate over the crypto and nat'l ID cards (all of which i personally oposse). And while many people do decry these measures, it is also our job as Americans to speak out to our representatives (or whomever needbe) and not just eachother about our liberties. This goes for even those who agree with these measures to tell those in power. By just saying, "Yea, thats true," we accomplish nothing. It is only by doing something about the truth that it won't just become a memory...
posted by jmd82 at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2001


It is also a handy quote to bring up during discussions about banning guns.
posted by thirteen at 9:03 PM on October 1, 2001


The Franklin one that is.
posted by thirteen at 9:05 PM on October 1, 2001


Good reminder, jmd82...
And it is very easy to find your reps email addresses and send them your opinions.

Yahoo has a way to find them easily.
posted by mapalm at 9:07 PM on October 1, 2001


whatnotever, the best attribution I found for the quote was the Bartleby Bartlett's Familiar Quaotations entry. The single quote page makes it easier to see the references.

And yes, that quote is quite popular with the opponents of gun control.
posted by joemaller at 9:53 PM on October 1, 2001


Miguel: the quote "I disagree with what you say, Sir, but I'll die fighting for your right to say it" is actually commonly misattributed to Voltaire. But the points you make are dead-on-accurate.

The type of abuse of a material witness warrant in Dr. Al-Hazmi's circumstance can be found at least as far back as in the prosecution of Terry Nichols. Since even the Court in that case stated that it wouldn't inquire as to the validity of a claim against the abuse of the material witness warrant (since Nichol's claim was moot), it looks like that type of warrant has become an important (and questionable) tool in the fight against terrorism. Does the right result justify it's abuses?

In a government where political restraint is supposedly controlled by the voice of the public, it is important (as mapalm suggests) to let your Representatives and Senators be aware of your concerns.
posted by bragadocchio at 1:14 AM on October 2, 2001


To Voltaire, of course.
Now, perhaps, I should like to peacefully die. (I spent a long time figuring out the accent as well...)

Meanwhile the phrase actually commonly misattributed to enters my vocabulary forever.

*hangs head in shame; nobody notices; skulks off*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:41 AM on October 2, 2001


Miguel, skulking doesn't become you. I mispelled Chief Justice Rehnquist's name throughout a post a couple of days ago. (I've been practicing since - R-e-h-n-q-u-i-s-t). As Richard Nixon used to be so fond of saying, "expletive deleted." Or, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "Stuff happens." Regardless of whether it was Voltaire, Moliere, or the actual author of the phrase in question, the sentiment is correct.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:27 AM on October 2, 2001


[And it is very easy to find your reps email addresses and send them your opinions.]

Whatever you do, don't post their office phone numbers!
posted by revbrian at 6:05 AM on October 2, 2001


Did you know that it's impossible for the police in Canada to hold you for more than *mumble* (24 or 48) hours without laying some sort of charge and presenting you before a magistrate? Of course, in a lot of cases, that visit to the judge lasts just long enough for the judge to send you back to jail until a bail hearing can be scheduled in a few months.

I find it interesting that in the USA, the police can detain one indefinitely without the right to appear before a court or see an attorney. One is reminded of certain South American dictatorships (oh, but the US funded those too, didn't it?).
posted by djfiander at 6:45 AM on October 2, 2001


Whatever you do, don't post their office phone numbers!

At least not until you've got your facts straight, eh, revbrian?
posted by briank at 6:50 AM on October 2, 2001


I find it interesting that in the USA, the police can detain one indefinitely without the right to appear before a court or see an attorney.

writ of habeas corpus.
posted by tolkhan at 3:22 PM on October 2, 2001


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