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Should governments have the power to restrict civil rights during crisis situations?im...

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caramelo99 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted November 25, 2010 at 1:05 PM via web

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Should governments have the power to restrict civil rights during crisis situations?

im thinking that kosovo, serbia, and croatia are good examples...but any ideas would be helpful, on how to answer this question.. would be appreciated.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 25, 2010 at 1:13 PM (Answer #2)

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I suppose that you could answer this by listing various times when governments have tried to restrict civil liberties and rights during times of crisis.  You could then look at those incidents and try to determine which of them were (in your opinion) justified and which were not.  From there, perhaps you could try to come up with some rules for when governments should be allowed to restrict rights.  Or you could come up with reasons why they never should be (if you think that none of the restrictions were justified.

Some examples that I would use would be:

  • Espionage and Sedition Acts during WWI.
  • The internment of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast in WWII.
  • Patriot Act (?)

On the other hand, you might look at examples of when governments do not try to restrict civil liberties (like in the US during the Vietnam War or the Gulf War).  You could try to discuss what happens when governments don't restrict rights and to determine whether that sheds any light on your question.

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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted November 25, 2010 at 7:40 PM (Answer #3)

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I think it doesn't take a lot of power to restrict civil rights, so if the government did not have enough power to do that, then it would not be powerful enough to handle the source of the crisis either.

Perhaps you meant to ask whether the government would be just in restricting civil rights during a crisis.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 27, 2010 at 1:43 AM (Answer #4)

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The problem with government having this power, even when, at times, it may have seemed necessary, is that only government can define when a given situation is a crisis.  We would have to assume, for the sake of this argument, that government would only declare a crisis in legitimate emergency situations and that no other motivations on their part other than security of the republic played a part in their actions.  This is, unfortunately, rarely the case.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 28, 2010 at 7:19 PM (Answer #5)

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According to some peoples beliefs the Bush Administration did this after the 9/11 tragedy. While in my opinion the Patriot Act did not restrict the civil rights of the citizens some feel that it did infringe on the rights of citizens.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 12, 2011 at 8:16 AM (Answer #6)

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I think there's a lot of abuse of the idea, but yes the government needs to be able to restrict civil rights during a crisis. As long as the rights return when the crisis ends, this is an important power for the government to have. It protects fhe populace when there is sensitive information.

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