VSHA Humanist Cafe

Wednesday, November 5, 7:00 to 8:30 pm       
James Bay New Horizons
234 Menzies Street

Topic: Does Security Trump Liberty?

moderator: John Pope

The debate between security and liberty is an old one, but recent events have brought this argument to the forefront of Canadian politics.

The Harper government is set to impose security measures in Ottawa and elsewhere in response to the recent killings of two Canadian soldiers.  The government has labeled the killers as terrorists, the Official Opposition argues that they are criminals not terrorists.


Terrorism has been re-defined many times by many people; the most common being “A violent act against a civilian population for political gain.”  Here’s another similar definition of terrorism:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism

But arguing that it was a criminal act will not likely be enough to assuage the public from the fear of more attacks after the dominant media has already labeled the attacks terrorism: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/world/americas/canadian-soldier-run-down-in-what-officials-call-act-of-terror-dies.html

The security measures set to be imposed will certainly limit Canadian public freedoms in some ways.  How far should these measures go?  It was suggested that people may need to be frisked before entering the Parliament building.  New surveillance cameras have already been planned for many government buildings and offices across the country.

Canadian Forces officials are assessing the possibility of heightened security at bases across the country:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-shooting-military-considering-heightened-security-at-bases-1.2808974

Additional security is imposed on the public each time a terrorist attack occurs.

The old security-vs.-liberty debate goes on in everything from computer science
to political science. Because it’s a matter of opinion, there’s no right answer,
and opposing points of view can sometimes be reduced to sound bites and
cheap shots rather than rational debate.

By understanding common arguments involving the tradeoffs between security and liberty, you can better make an informed decision on where you stand.

Interesting blog on this subject: http://www.schaefersblog.com/david-foster-wallace-on-the-freedom-vs-security-discussion-america-isnt-having/comment-page-1/

Online debating (opinions):

“The precondition to freedom is security.”  -Rand Beers


Is there a limit to how much security we can have?

Is there a limit to how much liberty we can have?

How has the dominant media reported these two Canadian incidents?  Was it balanced reporting, or sensationalized?

Were these incidents a result of hard-line Canadian government policies against ISIS?

Can we ever be completely safe from these attacks?

Is this quote valid today?:  “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  -Benjamin Franklin

See you there!