Dear Conservatives: This Is Why We Hate All Your Civil Rights Restrictions in the Name of Fighting Terror
Because about 5 seconds after they are passed, government officials are scheming to use the laws against non-terrorists to protect themselves from criticism.
Twenty-four environmental activists have been placed under house arrest ahead of the Paris climate summit, using France’s state of emergency laws. Two of them slammed an attack on civil liberties in an interview with FRANCE 24....
The officers handed Amélie a restraining order informing her that she can no longer leave Rennes, is required to register three times a day at the local police station, and must stay at home between 8pm and 6am.
The order ends on December 12, the day the Paris climate summit draws to a close....
Citing the heightened terrorist threat, French authorities have issued a blanket ban on demonstrations – including all rallies planned to coincide with the climate summit, which Hollande is due to formally open on Monday.
This justification is about as lame as them come:
AFP news agency has had access to the restraining notices. It says they point to the “threat to public order” posed by radical campaigners, noting that security forces “must not be distracted from the task of combating the terrorist threat”.
Note that the police had absolutely no evidence that these folks were planning any violence, or even that they were planning any particular sort of protest. This was a classic "round up the usual suspects" dragnet of anyone who had made a name for themselves protesting at green causes in the past.
Postscript: Yes, I know that these protesters and I would have very little common ground on environmental issues. So what? There is nothing more important than supporting the civil rights of those with whom one disagrees.
And yes, I do have the sneaking suspicion that many of the very same people caught up in this dragnet would cheer if I and other skeptics were similarly rounded up for our speech by the government. But that is exactly the point. There are people who, if in power, would like to have me rounded up. So it is important to stand firm against any precedent allowing the government to have these powers. Else the only thing standing between me and jail is a single election.
Update: Think that last bit is overly dramatic? Think again. I can guarantee you that you have some characteristic or belief that would cause someone in the world today, and probably many people, to want to put you up against the wall if they had the power to do so. As proof, see: all of history.