Sunday, December 27, 2009

Iranian Government Has No Monopoly On Violence Against Citizens

In considering all of the actions and violence committed against "anti-government protesters" in places like Iran, is it not worth considering whether or not the scenes here are often that much different? At the end of the day, Americans live under a system that steals from them, lies to them, commits fraud, illegally invades other countries, detains people, puts them on lists, sometimes allies itself with dictators and now threatens to make laws at the Federal level that REQUIRE you to buy products from insurance corporations or be threatened with fines and jail time?

G20 protesters get assaulted:

Police make a joke and laugh about shooting a peaceful protester (think about a culture where this is promoted as funny and worthy of reward):

There is always a worthy discussion about new laws where ultimately, the question should be asked ... "Are you willing to shoot someone over this?"

People chuckle and say, "we're just talking about a fine or a warning or something minor." BUT, the ultimate enforcement mechanism of any law, no matter how seemingly innocuous, is that it presents additional opportunities for there to be potential armed aggression against citizens.

This puts police officers in the position of not being thought of as "protecting and serving" us, but puts them in adversarial positions with the general public. How many people can say they've never been pulled over for something? How many people felt they were posing a clear and present threat of immediate harm to someone else and thereby warranted being detained by someone with a gun, fined and otherwise inconvenienced? Why do we accept this as okay?

Think about tax enforcement. Being required, by threat of potential government force being used against you, to pay for sports stadiums, convention centers, transfers of wealth to private entities, for abortions or stem cell research, billions to foreign dictators or paying for research on the mating habits of butterflies. We must again ask... Are we willing to destroy people's lives, reputations or families? Are we willing to march armed soldiers to their door steps and even shoot them over their objections to this? Yes, even in America, the political elites are willing to do so.

And this is why we must always remember that "The Law" is there to protect our life, property and rights. It is not supposed to be used to take away our life, transfer our property to others or reduce, limit or undermine our rights.

Live your life as you chose so long as you do no harm to, or violate the rights of, others. There is a foundational principle to live by and one that nobody should have any objection to.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If Our Rights Are Natural, Then Everybody Has Them Not Just Citizens

I had a good back and forth discussion with one of our Indiana Tea Party Patriots today.

Our good patriot friend said:

I mean the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the natural rights bestowed upon us by God, our Creator. I believe our country does not/cannot give us rights..they are from God.

But then in a subsequent message added:

My concern is not to give terrorists the same constitutional rights that citizens have.

So, understanding that the debate over the current Guantanamo prisoners is terse and heated, I still waded in to the water a bit as I perceived a bit of circular logic here. I don't propose that true enemy combatants in a war should be granted the same privileges non combatant citizens enjoy; however, it did spark a train of thought related to the source of our rights and who has them. It occurred to me that there is a trap in the debate about the prisoners and whether or not they have rights. If you believe rights come from government and can be taken away, then you have to believe that the prisoners have no rights. If you believe we all are endowed with natural rights and that government does not grant them, then you have to accept that even prisoners accused of terrorism have a right to due process and fair treatment.

E-mail is never a great place for debate and for busy people the responses can often be quick, not well thought through or riddled with typos, but here is what I responded with:

Do people have rights guaranteed by the creator or not? If the rights come from, as you state, God (or whatever creative force one subscribes to) and not from our Constitution then do these people have rights or not? (I'm not taking a position either way - just confused by the circular logic).

I would argue that anyone has a right to face their accuser, be presented with evidence, given a fair and speedy trial and then either required to provide compensation/restitution for their crimes or set free. I would also be curious as to how many people we have in Gitmo who were captured just, as far as they were concerned, defending their country and were not really "terrorists". I don't trust anything the government tells us about anything or anyone anymore.

You can't invade a country and then accuse everyone who fights back of being a "terrorist". Most of the problem we have with modern terrorism is that these folks feel they are fighting back against U.S. hegemony. Unfortunately, they cross an unforgivable line when they target innocent people and private interests. Again, a lot of terrorism's roots lay in the response to actions most Americans are not even aware happened 'on their behalf'. The foreign foot soldiers may not know this, but their leaders and those that manipulate are keenly aware of their political and economic goals.

We fell right into their trap by spending trillions on these wars overseas that have contributed to tanking our economy and weakening our nation. They knew they couldn't win a military victory, but they knew they might get us economically eventually. They saw us do it to the U.S.S.R.

In all fairness, entitlements are ultimately the bill that we will not be able to pay; but, in an already weakened and debt ridden state tacking an extra couple (or few) trillion for war just isn't helpful. We should always be wary of the economic warfare, not just the physical warfare fought by troops and machinery.

Regardless of disagreements, it is oftentimes in conversations like these where thoughts, opinions, policies and approaches are forged. A far better source of belief, understanding and rationale than just parroting whatever the favorite partisan hack of the day is saying on the boob tube.