The Terrorist Threat to Freedom

Terrorist Threat

The winter Olympics are coming soon and will be held in the Russian city of Sochi. There are concerns about security at the Olympics which were illustrated by a Chechen terrorist threat against the city of Volgograd twice within twenty-four hours.

These attacks were likely made by Muslims from Chechnya; which has been in a two-decades long war with Russia to become an independent nation.

These types of attacks represent a real threat to our freedom and our way of life. Obviously they did not occur in the United States but we’ve seen similar murderous rampages in this country from both Muslim extremest and domestic terrorists.

After the Sochi attacks the head of state of Russia, Vladimir Putin, made some strong statements about the actions that would be taken by the state. In the comments section below the story I noted that the vast majority of people not only agreed with Putin, that violence should be met with more violence, but they felt that Putin was the sort of leader they would prefer to have in the White House.

A tough-talking leader who promises that all enemies will be destroyed and that the safety of the people will be guaranteed by annihilating said enemies is a natural result of a terrorist threat. People are frightened and want assurances and vengeance. I suggest that this sort of leader is the greatest threat terrorism brings. This sort of leader is a far greater threat to your freedom than are the terrorists.

I do not want a leader of Putin’s ilk to rise in the United States.

Let’s take a little trip in time back to September of 2004. A group of Chechen and Ingush terrorists attacked School Number One in the Russian town of Beslan. The attack ended when Russian forces stormed the school killing the terrorists. 334 hostages, including 186 children, also died.

What’s important to remember is the aftermath of the terrorist threat. Putin ordered sweeping security changes which were approved by the democratically elected government. These changes strongly centralized the government and changed the constitution in a number of ways, all in the name of security, of safety.

In Russia the leeway given to security forces in detaining and spying on citizens was increased. Laws were strengthened so that people could be arrested more easily.

It’s also important to note that almost all of the terrorists in the attack had suffered from Russian security measures in Chechnya and Ingush. They had family members killed or imprisoned, homes destroyed, or property confiscated.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is only fair to note; such measures do increase security from outside attacks but, as the more recent terror attacks make clear, they do not guarantee safety.

Terrorists attack are a threat to our freedoms because they cause us to be afraid. We make changes to our laws that often represent a far greater threat to our safety than the terror attacks themselves.

People would be wise to remember the lessons of history. Increasing the powers of the police, giving more authority to the central government, and taking strong measures to ensure your security might seem to increase your safety but in reality they leave you more vulnerable.

I’m certainly not saying security measures should be completely abandoned. I’m just suggesting that we carefully implement them so as to safeguard our freedoms and our bodies.

If enough people in the United States want a President like Putin, it will not be long before we have one.

Tom Liberman

Rolling Stone Cover Controversy

Rolling Stone CoverRolling Stone magazine is coming out with a story that is causing a huge amount of tumult and distress. The cover of the magazine has a picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. For those of you who don’t know, he is one of two brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon resulting in the deaths of three people and the horrific wounding of 264 others. These bombs were placed directly next to small children. The ensuing chase and capture caused more injuries and damage.

The reason this is causing trouble is that many see it as glorifying Tsarnaev. That it will encourage others to commit such acts so that they too can gain the cover of such a prestigious magazine. The people who were wounded or who lost loved ones are extremely angry at the magazine for putting him on the cover. People who were not hurt by the bombs are also angry.

A number of Rolling Stone outlets are not going to put the magazine on display. People are organizing boycotts and making threats to the magazine.

Rolling Stone editors explain that they are merely reporting a story. That they examine what turned Tsarnaev into the sort of person that can plant a bomb in the middle of a crowd that includes many children. That they often report on important stories. That the picture of Tsarnaev is the same picture that media news outlets of all sorts have been using since he became a prime suspect in the attack.

I’m of two minds on this one.

The media, Rolling Stone, or any other outlet puts up stories that people are interested in seeing. The reason they do this is because we are interested. If we weren’t, these stories would make their way to the back pages of trade journals. All that is good in the world is not interesting. Rolling Stone is catering to demand.

Every news outlet in the United States has put pictures of murderous scum on their cover. By publishing a story about Tsarnaev, Rolling Stone is doing nothing that every other media outlet in the United States hasn’t done repeatedly.

On the other hand, what they are doing is causing pain and giving Tsarnaev some sort of celebrity status. Rolling Stone generally puts musicians and movie stars on their cover and there is an expectation of such that does not come with other news outlets. There is a possibility the cover will encourage someone else to commit horrific acts so they get their own fame. I think people often commit these sorts of crimes as a way to get attention but one cover here or there doesn’t really add to the whole of the infamy desired. The news is reported everywhere, not just Rolling Stone. However, this cover being on a celebrity heavy publication at least contributes to the perception of fame.

People who do this sort of thing will likely always be with us and our fascination for disaster, horror, self-imploding celebrities, and general mayhem will probably not ever go away. If people want to see it, someone will provide it for them. That is the law of supply and demand and that is, to a large degree, capitalism.

If Rolling Stone wants to put monstrous scum like Tsarnaev on their cover I suppose it is their right to do so. If they sell more magazines, and I suspect they will, then it was the right move from profit orientated point of view. If people refuse to buy the magazine, if outlets don’t want to sell it, then they can act accordingly, that is certainly their right as well.

But all that rationalization is simply a way for me to pretend that I don’t have to take a position on this Rolling Stone cover.

I absolutely believe Rolling Stone has the right to put whoever they want on the cover their magazine. Also that a company has every right not to sell it. That an individual doesn’t have to buy it, doesn’t have to walk into the store where it is on sale and have to look at it.

That being said here’s my position. Rolling Stone is wrong to do it.

While they are occasionally a news outlet they are primarily a music and celebrity orientated magazine. Tsarnaev and others like him should not be on their cover. I do think it is important to understand why a person could do these things so we can take actions to prevent it in the future. I just don’t think Rolling Stone is the place for this examination. It’s not my magazine, I’m a lowly blogger who gets a few dozen reads a day. They are a huge magazine that sells millions of copies. Still, I’ll stand by my principles. I chose to put an old cover of the magazine on the front of this blog, not the cover of Tsarnaev. That was my choice and only I have to live with it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
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