[LMB] Security and assembly

Bart Kemper bkemper at bigdogz.com
Fri, 15 Feb 2002 20:10:54 -0600

bart wrote;

> They can do a LOT of things and all that happens is the proles 
>> grumble, but quietly, since they know it could be worse rather 
>> quickly.  Due process is *way* different.  Since these rights have 
>> been demonstrately not in place, to our way of thinking, a free 
>> press certainly won't be.  Historically, the first things taken from 
>> a group by tyrants are the rights to assemble, free speech, and 
>> private weapon ownership.....
> Silvy Vale seems to have no difficulty with free assembly, at least I
> didn't notice a picnic and music and dancing permit being applied for. How
> does the District Militia fit into this usian distorted view ? Real
> enemies, a recent enemy occupation and a civil war (compare Irish Republic)
> tend to alter views on what is reasonable.
> Little Egret

   First, "freedom of assembly" was includes the right to gather in 
a pissed off mood in public venues, not just picnics.  While most 
metro areas have a set threshold above which in a given area, such 
as a park, organized gatherings must have a permit, the law is such 
that permitting must be done based on reasonable factors (size of 
area) and are not restrictive as to non-criminal content.  If there 
was a gathering on private property, even 10,000 strong, it would be 
legal in the US, forex.  The right to assemble is a rule and 
restrictions are by exception (and are frequently challenged, as the 
recent Supreme Court ruling in Chicago shows.) Freedom of assembly 
has also been extended to 'freedom of movement'...that there can be 
no prior restraint in crossing state and local borders (unless a 
convicted felon, etc.)  The converse is places such as PRC, Vietnam, 
Sudan, etc. where *any* gathering can be deemed criminal and the 
right to assemble is by exception, rather than by rule.  Further, 
while no one had a problem with a picnic in Silvy Vale, ImpSec 
*could* say it was an illegal gathering and it would be up to an 
appeal to say otherwise.  There is not separation of authority in 
order to get a warrant...just have to have a high enough ranked 
person to make the call.

Hey...if done for all the right reasons, autocratic rule is great. 
It's very efficient.  No wasted time...all resources go to getting 
the right thing done at the right time. The problem is the same 
system goes to crap in a hurry.

Second....I purposely joined the freedoms to assemble, free speech, 
and private weapons.  Simply taking away weapons does not preclude 
citizen action (as Marna rightly points out), just pulls a lot of 
teeth.  There are "real" enemies for EVERY gov't. I cannot think of 
a single gov't now or in the last 200 years, barring some isolated 
island states, that do not have SOME group of bad guys that would do 
harm or take stuff.  The acts of 9/11 changed nothing in many 
people's worldview (including mine) since the threats and possible 
venues were known and understood....it was and always shall be a 
balancing act between 'what is possible' and 'what is the perceived 
possibility.' I fully understand the issues of living in places like 
Londonderry or Belfast....I grew up in West Berlin during the 
bombings, shootings, and violent demonstrations of the mid-70's (on 
top of the actions of the East Germans and Russians--gotta love 
being in a train emptied out for ID checks at 3 am in January), and 
was in a household of particular awareness and risk.

Granted, in many countries there has never been any universal right 
to weaponry (meaning 'you have the right to own a weapon UNLESS you 
are a convicted felon, etc.'...there are exceptions to most 
'universal' human laws.)  Most reserved it for the 
wealthy/titled/upper class and their armsen/employees. (Gee...sounds 
like Barrayar to me.)  They are also countries that developed from 
non-democratic rule over centuries and didn't start off as the US 
did.  Difference in cultures count. However, there while there are 
assembly restrictions and press restriction in N. Ireland, it is not 
a gov't controlled press nor is there a banning of any 
demonstrations.  It is not 'free'...no one I know there would say it 
is.  But most would not say it is under a 'tyranny', either, and 
that the restrictions that are in place are clearly an attempt to 
balance citizen rights versus public safety/security due to 

Compare this to the Soviet, Nazi, wartime Japan, Taliban, or any 
other tyrannical state in which even greater restrictions were in 
place with threats either not manifested or comparatively rarely. 
There is also a cultural difference of what a given citizenry 
expects and will tolerate.  However, the issue of 'recent 
occupation' and 'recent civil war' is more a reason to *reduce* 
heightened security as much as possible--the spectre of these things 
have been used more by repressive states than other states. It sets 
up a bad mindset where you can repress rights 'because the threat 
may be gone, it is not forgotten'.  Being a repressive state is 
great...for the state....you get all of security needs front-end 
loaded. The price of being a 'free' state means the enemy gets a 
*WAY* better first move....the trick is to set the bar so that the 
first move is not catastrophic *and* be able to respond to eliminate 
the threat if it does manifest.

So...going back to the Militia..... I don't have a firm handle on 
the full Barrayaran military and security organization, but my take 
has always been it is somewhere between the US National Guard 
(pre-WWII) and the recent Soviet Militia....has a goodly number of 
full time staff, charged with keeping the peace and assisting in law 
enforcement.  Can be called upon to become a full-time military 
force for home defense quickly, and with some training and 
re-fitting be shipped out.    And that about fits where my view is 
of Barrayar.... somewhere what Western Europe/North America 
considers optimal freedoms (allowing the little differences in 
culture and history) and how the Soviet Union operated (aka 
'Barrayar in the bad old days').

Of course, *my* views are hardly distorted, despite the fact I have 
a blue US passport. <big grin>  Or wait....is it others that have 
the perfect world vision and are free of encumbering distortions? 
Of course, *everyone* in the US has identical blinders and glasses 
on, too.