[extropy-chat] Tyranny in place

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Sun Oct 8 23:59:41 UTC 2006

On 10/8/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> First, let me apologize to you and to Samantha for the highly sarcastic
> tone
> I took in my last missive. (I haven't yet read your reply; which is
> probably
> why I'm calm right now   :-)

No worries; please do read my reply, hopefully it will help make my position

Second, I readily admit that I pay too little attention to your "primary
> point"
> above. I am ready to learn, and there are probably other readers too who
> are ready to learn.  Isn't it a question of balancing risks?  I.e.,  threats
> from
> "enemies" within (our governments) must be weighed against threats from,
> say, Islamic terrorists, right?

Partly it is (which is why I quoted the numbers to put the actual magnitude
of the terrorism threat in perspective), but partly it isn't - some
"antiterrorism" measures harm us _without_ doing anything to defend us
against terrorism. As Eliezer remarked, there's a tendency to assume that
because we're making sacrifices, we must be getting something of
commensurate value in return - and this assumption can be very far from

Is the point that the two western governments (the U.S. and the U.K.) have
> now adopted policies which pose a danger to their own citizens that
> surpasses
> ourside threats to their societies?

Well what started this thread was the US government overturning habeas
corpus (the foundation of civil rights since medieval times). Europe has its
own problems - you can now be imprisoned for "hate speech", which can mean
pretty much anything the government wants it to mean, and in practice means
being sufficiently politically incorrect to attract notice.

But neither the Blair government nor the Bush administration is likely to
> declare their internal political opponents "enemy combattants", or are
> they? What is the chance that a citizen of one of those two countries
> (who, say, is inside the country) will be so prosecuted?  (Frankly, I
> consider the probability to be near zero that any particular citizen is
> at risk from either terrorists or from his government; do you agree?)

As yet, the vast majority of people haven't been on the receiving end of
this sort of thing, or even seriously threatened with it - and the reason
for that is that there are established principles of law and civil rights
that protect us. But once those protections are eroded, history shows
unchecked power is _always_ abused sooner or later, and usually sooner. It's
too late to protest after you've been thrown into a concentration camp. The
time to speak out is when you see civil rights being eroded, not when you've
been hit with the consequences.

Thanks for your ready replies to people's posts, Russell.

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