Two recent terrorist attacks, the execution of the staff of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and the North Korean cyber attack on the Sony Corporation, seem to have nothing in common. One attack was executed by radicalized French citizens, true believers convinced they were serving as God’s avengers, who attacked other French citizens. The other attack appears to have been executed by an organization sponsored by an atheist state which attacked a corporation electronically a half a world away.
In one case the terrorist assaulted the headquarters of a magazine with automatic weapons, killing policemen before coldly executing multiple members of a magazine’s staff. In the other attack nerds used their keyboard as their weapons on behalf of their government to breach a corporation’s security measures and steal confidential electronic data. Then they tried to use that stolen information to blackmail the company into not releasing a satirical movie. On the surface it appears that the two terrorist attacks could not be more different.
However, the objective of the two attacks was the exactly same; both attempted to use fear to curtail free speech and silence criticism. This is because most of the terrorists in the world today represent organizations which would have great deal of difficulty existing in societies which provide the basic freedoms you and I enjoy every day.
We obviously need to show these cowards that we will not be intimidated into complying with their demands. This is why Sony releasing the movie “The Interview” and the “Je Suis Charlie” movement are so important. However, we also have to beware of those that would take extraordinary measures to protect us from terrorists or any other danger, real or imagined. Such people can be a more viable treat to our basic freedoms then any number of jihadists armed with AK-47’s or explosives.
Beware those who would read your private emails, torture suspects, imprison people indefinitely without redress, deny the right to a fair trial, and would even imprison brave medical workers who put their lives, all in attempts to make us a little safer. They seek to use our fear to make us complicit in their assaults on our values. I think that it is ironic that both terrorists and some of those who would protect us from terrorists are both endanger our basic freedoms.