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    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2007
    I work for academia (and not in an administrative department. Really really in academia.) One of the nice things about it is that -- generally speaking, and there certainly are well-publicized exceptions -- the folks there know better than to blacklist you because they don't like something you said, as one of the reasons THEY work there is because of that, particularly if they are, you know, tenured. Anyway, I don't spent much time looking over my shoulder for that reason, anyway. Industry surely felt different. (Still have the knife scar in my back.)
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2007
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    The UK ,academia etc are very bad for people holding the wrong opinions just not the same ones you are thinking of. If one of your colleagues had a
    spiritual experience and came in professing to believe in intelligent design and deciding to home school his kids how would he be treated?
    The supposedly egalitarian society's in the UK and academia and liberal viewpoints are as fanatical as the Jesuits were when it comes to opinions they see as heresy.
    A middle eastern reporter pointed out that you would get the exact same response to a book of holocaust jokes in the west as you got to those Danish antimuslim cartoons in the middle east.

    Kosmopolit ,Guns are effectively banned in the UK. Orwell said something like "the firearm in the blue collar workers house is proof of freedom" The UK has gone so far as to raid star trek nerds because they have a klingon battleth on their wall. The British Blades site is so afraid of the UK's thought police that it is a banning offence to even discuss the books Sykes and Fairbain wrote for the Commandos of WW2.

    In the US they want to take your freedom out of fear and in the UK and Europe they want to take your freedom for your own good. Personally I find the motivation for fasicm immaterial.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
    "Kosmopolit ,Guns are effectively banned in the UK. "

    No they aren't there are millions of private fire-arms in the UK.

    There's also a fair-sized home schooling movement which includes evangelical Christians.

    The quote from Orwell you are thinking of is probably from "You and the Atom Bomb"

    "It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak."

    In context he's actually saying almost the exact opposite of what you suggest i.e. that the existence of the nculear bomb means that the rifle no longer functions as a limit on despotic power.
  1.  (252.4)
    Continuing to play the skeptic in this thread,

    It is worth noting that many examples that are being pointed out now, the danger to ones career of having views outside the excepted mainstream, while entirely true, have nothing to do with any laws or policies that exist because of current administrations or fears of phantom terrorists.

    It has always been the case - and I mean always as in going back as far as we have a recorded history - that holding the wrong view in a cultural niche was dangerous to your career. I am not defending that circumstance, just noting they say, for example, Scott's (and its funny, I was wondering if this topic would summon you to the board) example of Chuck Dixon (by which he means a conservative writer in a liberal community) can hardly be ascribed to anything current in the water.

    And to that end, while this does represent the danger of being political, it does so in a way that underlies being outspoken and a minority voice always has a risk of being ostracized. It does not follow on the original premise in the thread that this danger has increased in the US.

    Yes, I know I am being a pedant. I apologize for that, but one of my core beliefs is we are still at a point where we can fight back within the system. Moving bad current circumstances forward in our minds to a nightmare "what if" of fascism and acting like that is the case already is giving up the ghost to the assholes who want that end.
  2.  (252.5)
    A coworker of mine (Young, Liberal College Student), tried to insist that the current admin is almost like the nazis.

    I tired to explain to him that, to be fair to all the jews out there(and peoples of Europe at the time), That no, no it isn't. He still wouldn't submit.

    This is a great example of what I mean by romantic (form a earlier post).

    For this student I suspect this claim has a two fold effect. First, he recasts a corrupt and underhanded government as the worst possible thing he can think of in terms of all evils. So his opposition is not simply logical but heroic. Second, and I am extending here, it may free him of responsibility to actually be a radical. Radical democracy can fight a Nixon or a Shrub, where one person can make a difference. Fighting "the Nazis" is hopeless without the support of a large heroic power base.
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
    I define safe as "whole and unharmed in body and lifestyle." so I'd probably be just as safe being political in America, but I have to say I'm much happier not being there-- politically and otherwise.
    • CommentAuthorcschneid
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
    Context: I live in a city of about 200K residents in the USA, the capital of a "blue state," which is usually described as "liberal."

    Expressing one's political views verbally does not normally result in threats to life and limb. When the US gov't does something egregiously wrong, like asserting its right to kidnap anyone anywhere for any reason, I send outraged correspondence to my elected representatives and I do not fear a knock on my door.

    I have a brother-in-law who lives in a city of about 4K residents in the USA, in a "red state," which is usually described as "conservative." Expressing his Marxist philosophy in a local pub does not make him popular, garners unfriendly looks from other patrons, but he has not been harmed by them, nor by the local constabulary.
  3.  (252.8)
    Precisely...what's really scary is how apolitical many people are.

    Thats because it's been beaten out of us. It's presented as boring and irrelevant (when, clearly, it is not). A few years ago it was 'fashionable' for everyone to be political. Everyone and his dog jumped on the war wagon and released political songs etc (Faithless, anyone?)
  4.  (252.9)
    Since we got the the part about political songs, note that Rage Against The Machine just reformed... could be interesting.
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I think you are right Jtraub in that just being political is not enough to endanger your life in the US even if you are a muslim who supports Sharia law.
    However if you are political AND the government has a reason to think you are either a danger or could potentially be helpful in regards to some terrorism related case
    whether it is true or not you are definitly in some danger. Even hardcore political people who are nonviolent have nothing more to fear than some surveillance.

    The Orwellian quote I was thinking about is very close to what I said and not the one you mentioned. It is an interesting one though. Right now we are back to a war where rifles and small unit tactics are what are needed and battleships and nukes are largely superfluous. They are even bringing back the bayonet and the US army has had a SWORD made for fighting hand to hand in caves in the 21st century. Strong encryption /web based pay per view real time sat photos and propaganda sites put some very sophisticated tools into the hands of would be revolutionaries and certainly gives claws to the weak. The real arms race is who will better use these tools.

    One thing we can all agree on is we are living in some interesting times.
  5.  (252.11)
    government has a reason to think you are either a danger

    I think this is the crux of this thread and where people disagree.

    I do think right now the environment has gotten worse in terms of dangers of the US government deciding you are a danger, and pursuing innocent people because of bad information or bullshit supposition. Not as bad as some people think, but worse then it was 10 years ago, though still less dangerous then other periods of US paranoia in the 20th century. And for a quick example, you only need to look to the Black List.

    Contrasted to that period, I do not think any of the dangers today have a general relation to the act of being political. In fact, I suspect, except in a few cases of people who support specific policies or organizations related to middle eastern concerns, any increased danger to freedom has little relation to intentional activism. Much more so I suspect it relates to your business dealings, your social connections, your background, and, yes as I said above, any relation - political or otherwise - to various middle eastern concerns.

    Does that harm innocent people? Yes.
    Is it acceptable by my standards of freedom? No.
    Is it the situation this thread maintains exists. No.

    And thats really the point I have been making, the question at hand was never the general "are certain liberties and freedoms being threatened in the US (and latter in the thread the UK) today?" The question was "has the specific freedom of being politically active become dangerous to act upon (with the US as the implied subject of the question)". I think most in thread answers of yes required expanding the question to the general issue.

    And as I am in repeats and this thread is going under the waves, I think that calls it a day for my view.

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