Sunday, July 24, 2005

On Paranoia, and the Murder of Jean Charles de Menezes

Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician legally living and working in Britain, was recently murdered by London police.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that:

Witnesses said the Brazilian was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him in the head and torso.

"They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him," witness Mark Whitby told the British Broadcasting Corp. "He looked like a cornered fox. He looked petrified."

Now, pardon me if it's not politically correct to point this out, but if you have a man pinned to the ground, and then you shoot him in the head, that is murder. I don't care what you may say about terrorists and security. Summary execution of a subdued, prone prisoner is murder, plain and simple.

This incident, alas, clearly demonstrates that the terrorists won this round by creating an atmosphere of hysteria and paranoia.

Instead of responding with random bag searches and tossing out any real concept of civil rights and freedom, the UK government should have doubled the number of troops assigned to anti-terrorist activities abroad. When London was attacked again, they should have doubled the number of troops yet again.

Fomenting hysteria and paranoia is what terrorism's all about (terror, after all, being the root word of terrorism). When police summarily murder pedestrians as a result of paranoia, the terrorists have won.

When we blithely allow, or even encourage, politicians to strip us of our civil rights, the terrorists have scored a major victory. Witness how quickly and easily our rights have been eroded since 9/11/01. How many hundreds of years did it take to achieve those rights? How long do you think it will take to regain them?

In the end, are you any safer after losing so many rights? No, not at all. Most "security" is just smoke and mirrors. So, what's the net effect of all the draconian security measures and sweeping police powers we've blindly accepted since 9/11? Well, we've dramatically increased our likelihood of being unjustly (and without due process) imprisoned, beaten, tortured, or outright murdered by the same people who a few short years ago we could confidently have said were there to protect us. Legal recourse? None. We gave that up in the name of security.

Without any checks and balances, the legions upon legions of people employed to protect us have become a greater threat to us than any terrorist ever dreamt of.

Perhaps you disagree. Maybe you don't find overzealous omnipresent security to be unnerving. Maybe all the "security" makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Well, let's ask Jean Charles de Menezes his opinion. Oh right, he's dead. Unaccountably murdered in the name of security.

"Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order."
- John V. Lindsay

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin

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