My family heritage is very white bread. My mother's family lived in the United States long before it became the United States, but my father's mother emigrated here from Darbyshire, England in 1911. She was somewhat scandalous as she was a divorced, single parent in the 1930's. She became a quality control manager for the Remington Rand Corporation. She was about seventy years old when I was born. I had a traditional Grandma who baked cookies while she chatted with me relationship. I still miss her.
She valued her right to vote and was never a low information voter. She read the newspaper every day, especially the editorial section. She spoke to me at least twice a week that the United States was unique for a few political rights she didn't have in England. The first was the presumption of innocence another was our rights to Freedom of Speech and she also said I shouldn't underestimate the right to remain silent despite my parents always believing my silence was an admission of guilt. She told me stories of her childhood of how it wasn't that way in England. I wish I had paid better attention to her stories of her brothers, father and family friends. Some of the reason she came to the Untied States was over her protestant sister marrying an Irish Catholic. It. wasn't. good. I might not remember the specifics, but I do remember how adamant she was about how our freedoms were stronger in the United States.
I think she would weep today if she were alive.
I wrote a comment some time ago that the United Kingdom did not have the same level and type of freedom of expression that we enjoy in the United States. I was challenged on that assertion. The commenter demanded proof. I couldn't very well defend myself by saying "My Grandma told me so," so, I didn't respond.
Today, unfortunately, I can respond.
Going to elementary school during the Cold war days that featured "Duck & Cover" drills had an impact. Even then, I could see the difference between Communism and Totalitarianism. Expressing my ability to see that nuance got me into a lot of trouble. I had a private tutor at home who made sure I understood that the reason we have our Bill of Rights was specifically due to the Eighteenth Century's English Army's tactics of beating colonists bloody and broken until they talked about dissidents, then tossing them in jail to rot until they died. (What General Sherman did to Georgia nearly 100 years later wasn't discussed much, but I digress.) The myths are difficult to separate from the facts concerning the birth of our nation, but my discernment grew with maturity.
What I zeroed in on was the idea that government brutality didn't seem to be much different no matter who the perpetrator was. At least, that's how I saw it. My father, being a WWII vet, had a lot to say about how Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan did horrible things to dissidents during WWII. He wasn't pleased when I asked him to reconcile those ideas with the U.S. Japanese internment camps. I must have been a vexing child/teenager. It was my grandmother who came to my rescue at that dinner table conversation. She said I had every right to ask and question our country's commitment to individual rights. After all, this type of talk would have led to a stern admonishment in England.
Well, Grandma didn't talk much about the Espionage Act of 1917, she did have serious reservations about FISA, and she died more than a decade before the Patriot Act. I sometimes wonder what Grandma would say about our current state of how our Bill of Rights is interpreted. There is a lot to find fault with the United States when it comes to eroding the Bill of Rights. Even so, England's Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as described by Amnesty.org puts paid Grandma's assertion that Freedom of Speech is different in England.
Schedule 7 [actual text here] of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to detain anyone at the UK’s borders without any requirement to show probable cause and hold them for up to nine hours, without seeking further justification. The detainee must respond to any questions, regardless of whether a lawyer is present and there is no automatic provision of a lawyer. It is a criminal offence for the detainee to refuse to answer questions - regardless of the grounds for that refusal or otherwise fully cooperate with the police.emphasis added
According to the advice published by the Association of Chief Police Officers’, Schedule 7 should only be used to counter terrorism and may not be used for any other purpose.
A similarly over-broad and vague section of the Terrorism Act 2000 which allowed stop and search without any grounds was held to be unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. Section 44 - as it was known - violated Article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights which protects privacy.
I get what Grandma was telling me. Schedule 7 would have problems in the U.S. based upon our 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights.
We need to revisit the idea that if we trade liberty for security, we'll get neither. We need to do that before we make our Bill of Rights totally irrelevant.
6:18 PM PT: Thank you Rescue Rangers. I just saw you reposted me.