"British Liberty, RIP"
June 11, 2002 10:05 AM   Subscribe

"British Liberty, RIP"
A leader article on the danger represented by the British Government's new Statutory Order and the need for Parliamentarians to step in and resist. (The Order will allow a wide range of organisations access to phone and internet records - The Guardian's own story with details is here.)
Ben Franklin has been quoted here many times before, but I have no hesitation quoting him again: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
posted by jonpollard (10 comments total)

 
blimey.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:28 AM on June 11, 2002


Wow, that's really frightening. I don't know why, but I always thought that England would hold out longer for civil liberties than the United States would. Perhaps just childhood nostalgia...
posted by dejah420 at 10:39 AM on June 11, 2002


Stand's post on the matter has links to more information, and what you can do to help stop this happening. From their site: Stand.org.uk is "to collate in one place all the information you need to understand and fight the groups and laws that - deliberately or not - could foul up what, until now, has been a rather successful Internet." See also: Fax Your MP, free www-to-Member-of-Parliament gateway and all-round accountability machine.
posted by mattw at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2002


Ben Franklin has been quoted here many times before, but I have no hesitation quoting him again: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but can anyone confirm the origins of that quotation? I see it equally often attributed to Jefferson, and the exact wording varies from instance to instance.

It beautifully sums up the problem with almost all such government incursions into civil liberties, and I'd like to be able to quote it and know I was doing so correctly.
posted by tirade at 12:23 PM on June 11, 2002


tirade, Bartlett's gives it as Benjamin Franklin from the Historical Review of Pennsylvania 1759.

sorry, no link for proof. used my analog copy :)
posted by zoopraxiscope at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2002


privacy == liberty?
posted by hob at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2002


this is one of the drawbacks of not having a written constitution I suppose. at least in the U.S. we can challenge stuff like this in court.
posted by boltman at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2002


Here's an online Bartlett's reference for the Benjamin Franklin quotation.

Equally apropos is this from William Pitt:

'Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.'

Ironically, these words are quoted on the website of 10 Downing Street.
posted by Owen Boswarva at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2002


Britain has been dealing with regular terrorist attacks on its home turf for more than 30 years. In that time we have tried: sending in the army, internment without charge for suspects, a hardline policy of non-negiation, arresting and imprisoning groups of men whose only crime seemed to be having an Irish accent, wire tapping and other undercover operations plus idiotic tactics such as not allowing members of Sinn Fein to use their own voices on TV. In all those years what did we learn? None of it worked in any way at all. Only when compromise and negotiation was tried did we get somewhere. But now, after a terrorist attack in another country, we're acting like terrorism is something completely new to us. Blunkett scares me. I expect to see ID cards pretty soon. Or 'entitlement' cards as they're being called.
posted by Summer at 4:09 PM on June 11, 2002


Well put, Summer.

Blunkett scares me too - he makes some of the most hardline Home Secretaries from the Thatcher/Major years look like wishy-washy liberals, and seems quite proud of his basically intolerant and aggressive attitudes even to our own citizens, never mind anyone else.
posted by jonpollard at 11:42 PM on June 11, 2002


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