Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rights of Terrorists?

Okay, lately, I have been listing to right-wing radio.

Now I really like listening to talk radio. I've always found it to be a great way to keep up with current events, and to alleviate the boredom of doing chores or commuting to work. There are a couple of talk radio stations in town, so usually, there is something that I'll enjoy listening to. However, this has changed recently.

I have always known (and accepted) that talk radio is dominated by ultra-conservative commentators. However, in the past, I have listened to some local talk show hosts that are a little more... balanced. And by balanced, I mean they still have right-wing tendencies, but they're willing to listen to and talk about both sides of an issue in a fair way.

Then a station started up in my town that played more left-wing content, including several shows by Air America. Now some of them I thought were as ridiculous as the right-wing shows. Randi Rhodes lowered herself to name-calling, baseless accusations, and one-sided propaganda just as much as most of the national right-wing talk show hosts, and I found it to be just as disgusting. Don't even get me started on the Ring of Fire; those two are flagrant propagandists. However, there were some shows that I loved, such as Stephanie Miller, Laura Ingram, and The Young Turks. Unfortunately, that station was recently run out of town, and it was bought out by public broadcasting, which now has two stations in the area that play the exact same thing. Yay.

So what did I do? I turned back to the other talk stations, with the hopes of finding those local hosts again who seemed pretty fair-minded. Only to find that they were gone. In fact, local talk seems to have disappeared from the area altogether during that time, and it's now nothing but national right-wing conservative broadcasts almost all the time. I went and looked those local guys up and found information on three; one had retired, and two had moved their shows to stations in larger cities. Yay.

I suppose what I mean to say is that I'm having ultra-conservative propaganda crammed into my head whenever I do chores or drive a car these days, and I'm therefore going to be complaining a lot more about it, starting with the following little tidbit.

A talk show host I was listening to last night was ranting and raving about the recent Supreme Court decision to allow prisoners at Guantanamo Bay access to civilian courts to challenge their imprisonment; basically granting them the right to Habeus Corpus which the Bush administration has denied them. Basically, this host was going on and on about the fact that "five activist judges decided to let terrorists into our courts! This is not what the founding fathers had in mind!" He was furious at this, slandering them left and right, claiming over and over that the judges had doomed the American people to endless terrorism, using all the cliches and scare tactics he could muster up.

Wait, what?

I'm not sure I can count on both of my hands the number of things wrong with the statement I quoted. So let's try.

1. Activist. Judges of the supreme court are nominated by the President and approved by congress. They have traditionally been nominated and appointed under criteria that included fair-mindedness, independent thought, and knowledge of the constitution, though recently, presidents have tended to take it upon themselves to nominate people that they considered to be sympathetic to their political beliefs.

For the record, of the nine current Supreme Court justices, seven were nominated by Republican presidents. If five of them voted to grant Guantanamo prisoners Habeus Corpus, then.. wait, let me do the math... at least three of those had to have been nominated by Republican presidents! Hey, Mr. Talk Show Host, if these justices were so "activist", then the Republican administrations that you laud so much must have been doing a pretty poor job at getting their buddies on the bench! Or.. in the event that they were actually looking for someone more independent, then, well, maybe the decision was well-thought-out?

Personally, I've almost always found Supreme Court rulings to be fair and reasonable. I think they do their jobs well. There are a few decisions I disagree with, but we'll get on that later.

2. Terrorists. Again and again, this talk show host called the prisoners terrorists. Never once during this whole rant did I hear him use any form of the word "suspect." These people aren't terrorists, they're suspected terrorists! Last time I checked, we were still innocent till proven guilty! This is the entire basis of our justice system. So call them what they are.

3. Letting them into our courts. I'm not sure what the specific procedure will be, but I have my doubts that the prisoners will actually be transported to the mainland and brought to standard civilian courts for their hearings. And even if they are, big freaking deal! This talk show host behaves as if the suspects will be taken to the courts via the graves of the founding fathers, after which they will will blow their noses with the flag while the courthouse explodes because, of course, these guys are terrorists, right? Holy crap! Killers, thieves, and yes, terrorists are safely trucked in and out of our courts every day. That's what courthouses are there for! And again, remember that these people are only suspected terrorists. Charges haven't even been brought against most of them yet.

4. Founding Fathers. The term "founding fathers" is way over-used. A lot of people, but especially conservative speakers and talk show hosts, invoke the term as if the founding fathers had stood up with one voice and, in a chorus, spoke the nation unequivocally and unambiguously into existence. No, no, no, no, NO! No. That's NOT what happened. The people who founded this country were just as argumentative and opinionated as our leaders today. It took years of painstaking negotiations to come up with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Some of those guys I really like and, for the most part, I agree with. Some of them were crazies. I'm descended from one of those. I'll give you a hint: he killed someone who is on money.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah. Don't put words in the mouths of the founding fathers, because most of them would likely have been offended by the attempt.

5. Not what they Had in Mind Okay, so I've established that you can't know with clear-cut certainty what the founding fathers wanted because they all had different opinions. Let's assume for the moment that you can glean some of what they wanted from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I would propose that this is exactly what they had in mind! Article one, section nine of the United States Constitution says this:

"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

The Bush administration suspended Habeas Corpus for these people under the pretense that it was required for public safety. This was the issue before the Supreme Court, and they seem to have decided that it was not necessary. Frankly, I agree. I don't see any rebellion or invasion going on, do you? And anyway, denying these people the right to challenge their imprisonment does little for public safety. In fact, I would suggest that it reduces public safety by making people angrier at us! Oh, and to those of you who say they shouldn't get these rights because they're non-citizens, I would say that's a load of crap. This country was founded under the explicit principle "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." That's everyone. You, me, the French, Guantanamo prisoners, everyone. Why shouldn't our rights be extended to those we hold captive?

Okay, I know, that's only five things wrong with that statement, and I can count that on one hand. I've gotten this off my chest, and I'm tired of typing, so sue me.

Oh, and I'm not sure why I've been withholding the identity of that talk show host that started me off on all this. I don't really see any reason for it.

Rusty Humphreys is a prick.

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35

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