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Civil Liberties and the War on Terror Abroad:
The New York Times has an interesting article today on measures being taken by foreign governments against Muslim preachers who are advocating violence and hatred of the West. The article focuses on laws and enforcement practices in Britain, Italy, Australia, and Canada.

  The very end of the story mentions a recent poll in the Globe and Mail on attitudes toward the war on terrorism among Canadians. The poll produced the following results:
What measures for the war on terrorism do Canadians support?

Deporting or jailing anyone who publicly supports terrorists or suicide bombers.

Oppose/strongly oppose: 15%
Strongly support/support: 81%
Don't know: 4%

Having video cameras in all public places.

Oppose/strongly oppose: 25%
Strongly support/support: 72%
Don't know: 2%

Giving the U.S. any information it requests about Canadian citizens whom they suspect of being terrorists.

Oppose/strongly oppose: 33%
Strongly support/support: 62%
Don't know: 5%
Stephen Aslett (mail):
I can understand the last two, but the first one boggles my mind. Regardless of whether you think the decrease in privacy or the costs of a vast public camera system are worth it, such a system could, if not deter crime, then at least increase the chance that crimes committed will be solved. And, regardless of whether you think that investigators should be able to gather some of the private information about terrorist suspects that they are able to gather, information sharing among countries is, in general, a good thing.

But deporting imams who denounce westerners? Or jailing sick-minded people who support suicide bombers? Sure, if the speech is inciting imminent violence, I can understand, but kicking people out for making speeches about the Great Satan?

Don't people understand that when speech like this is censored, it only makes it more attractive? It also drives such individuals underground where they are harder to keep track of. I can't think of anything worse for counterterrorism intelligence than deporting all these fundamentalists to countries where we can't keep track of them. At least now we can see who is coming in or going out of their mosques. Heck, it makes infiltrating such organizations much easier.

And what about muslims (especially recent immigrants) on the fence who may feel ostracized from the broader white, european community around them? I can't think of a quicker way to get them in the West's so-called hatred of muslims or a worlwide Jewish conspiracy than to deport or jail leaders who speak about such things.

What makes this all the more incredible is that Canadians haven't suffered any terrorist event that would make a desire for such restrictions on civil liberties understandable.

It would be interesting to see this poll conducted with Americans. I bet you'd still see high levels of support in the last two categories (assuming the last question is rephrased so that the U.S. shares information with other countries), but probably not the first one.

Is it just me or do others here have a sense that Americans reflexively value free speech perhaps above all other liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights? I know our notinos of free speech are far off from what the framers believed, and that the Warren Court's decisions in this area were not immediately popular, but it seems wide free speech protections are now something that folks across the political spectrum readily agree on. Europeans I've talked to find this near fetishistic valuing of free speech unusual, if not upsetting, and seem more willing for government to clamp down on hate-filled content. I wouldn't have thought Canadians would be like that too, but I guess they are.
8.14.2005 2:15pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
The post comment button is so tempting, I forget there's a preview button right next to it. Paragraph four, second sentence should read: "I can't think of a quicker way to get them to believe in...."
8.14.2005 2:22pm
M (mail):
Like all polls it's quite hard to know what this one means. Take the "deport or jail" question. As worded that would seem to apply to both native Canadians, other Canadian citizens, and non-citizens. But, I strongly suspect that most people are thinking only about non-citizens there. And what does "publicly support" mean here? And which terrorists and/or suicide bombers are meant? I suspect that in fact a much smaller percentage of Canadians support jailing Canadian citizens who say "I think palestinian Suicide attacks are sometimes justified" or "Over-all, I think the Contras were a force for good", though both of these would fall under a reasonable reading of the question. So, while this is interesting I think it likely leaves us with more questions than answers. (I don't think Orin thinks otherwise, but it's worth saying agian.)
8.14.2005 3:19pm
=0=:
Immigration never looked so sweet. I'm glad I started learning Swedish a few years ago, and that Finland is in need of people like me. Even if my bid to move doesn't work out, I have a fall-back in rural Tennessee. Sure, its only 6 acres, but a country boy can survive.

I'm also glad I didn't choose to have kids. I wouldn't want to raise a child in this sort of world.
8.14.2005 8:38pm
GG (mail):
To me, it's funny how the sharing info with Uncle Sam option--the one that seems least invasive and threatening--is the one that is least popular. Do some Canucks actually dislike the US more than the option of having neighbors and visitors jailed for having "I Heart Osama" bumper stickers?
8.14.2005 8:45pm
Mike Marino (mail):
I'm not at all surprised by the level of support for deporting non-citizens and the stripping of citizenship from those who call for the murder of civilians and the destruction of our civilization. It's been said so many times, it's a cliche: the First Amendment is not a suicide pact, and our rejection of oppressive and hateful speech is not itself oppression. For those born here, treason or sedition charges are one more terrorist attack away.

I'd be more surprised if the U.S. polled below the Canadian levels on these questions. After the next attack, I'd be shocked to see less than 95%.
8.14.2005 8:47pm
Warmongering Lunatic:
Me, I find:

"Most of those ordered deported had been held in Belmarsh prison since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, when Britain enacted a law permitting indefinite detention without charge of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism."

And the Guardian complains about Guantanamo?
8.14.2005 9:25pm
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
The results of the first question isn't that surprising, considering that Canada doesn't have a strong tradition of free speech like we do.
8.14.2005 9:25pm
This David (mail) (www):
I'm glad that someone pointed out some of the problems with these survey questions. As a survey researcher myself, I am highly suspect of these particular questions - they are extremely vague and open to numerous possible interpretations. I'm not familiar with The Strategic Counsel, but it looks like they should have invested more time in constructing the questions. On the other hand, it is also a bit difficult to determine how the questions were asked based on this new story. Surveys can be extremely useful when carefully constructed, pre-tested, and fielded. On the other hand, they can be extremely difficult to interpret when they are poorly constructed and administered.
8.15.2005 4:11am
Perseus (mail):
The Economist (8/13-19) also has an interesting story on the anti-terrorism measures taken by France, which are far more aggressive than those being proposed in Britain (and include deporting radical clerics). The magazine also notes that Britain's adversarial legal system (like ours) makes it more difficult to adopt such measures. Perhaps conservatives might have reason to eat a French fry or two.
8.15.2005 5:33am
Phil (mail):
Stephen Aslett wrote, "What makes this all the more incredible is that Canadians haven't suffered any terrorist event that would make a desire for such restrictions on civil liberties understandable."
Well, yes and no. Twenty-four Canadians died in the 9/11 attacks, which is about the same as ALL Canadian military operational deaths for the past decade.
My in-laws are (naturalized) Canadian citizens and my children were born there. Canadians are peace and freedom loving, but they are not fools!
8.15.2005 5:33am
jayann (mail) (www):

Me, I find:

"Most of those ordered deported had been held in Belmarsh prison since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, when Britain enacted a law permitting indefinite detention without charge of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism."

And the Guardian complains about Guantanamo?


Had been held. The Guardian (etc.) opposed that. They were freed from Belmarsh following a Law Lords ruling that holding foreign subjects indefinitely was discriminatory, was a breach of the Human Rights Act. The Guardian (etc.) supported this but voiced concerns about the control orders (some amounting to house arrest) that followed.
8.15.2005 10:49am
djd (mail):
In the package of proposed antiterrorism measures in Britain is a provision that would criminalize glorifying or condoning acts of terrorism. Could you imagine the firestorm such a thing would set off in this country?
8.15.2005 12:29pm
Gareth (mail):
The (relatively) low score for sharing information with US authorities has to be taken in the context of the Maher Arar case.
8.15.2005 4:36pm