Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do Despicable People Have Rights?

Apologies in advance for what's possibly a too-controversial post for what basically is a friends-and-family blog. I'll keep it brief. But something that is going on is "really bothering me."

Reading and listening to TV and radio, I'm finding that not everybody agrees that what is going on in Texas with the Mormon Fundamentalists is a totally unacceptable violation of the civil rights of these people. The current line of thought for people who aren't bothered by it seems to be something like: "the DNA is going to nail a bunch of these men for underage sex and polygamy, so that's going to justify everything."

As far as what is actually wrong with this, maybe Ben Stein has said it best. (hyperlinked)

Those who think this is all OK seem to say that because they aren't child abusers themselves, there's no need to be concerned about the heavy handed tactics. This reminds me of the argument that we shouldn't mind giving up our rights to improve our security in this age of terrorism. Such people have said, they don't mind if the government listens to their phone calls, because they aren't doing anything illegal. And so on with other examples. I guess you could go down the entire Bill of Rights and say, what's there to worry about amongst us law abiding citizens? Search my house without a warrant, what do I have to hide anyway?

Wrong thinking! It does matter that we keep our rights, and that authorities respect "due process." No! you shouldn't say it's OK for the government to listen in without warrants on private conversations; maybe today you don't care but maybe tomorrow you'll wonder who is listening when you are complaining about the Government. And although I am someone who wonders if criminals get mollycoddled a little too much sometimes, I have to admit that even with the Miranda rights in place, some poor souls get railroaded anyway. New ability to use DNA evidence, as a matter of fact, has made it clear that some people must have been executed who were innocent. A lot of them got convicted on the basis of (notoriously unreliable) eyewitness evidence, but more than a few went down in a process of police interviewing that is becoming more and more discredited. So now is a time to relax standards for due process?

People are used to the police pretty much leaving law abiding citizens alone. I get this feeling it's hard to explain to many that this can change fast. A little taste of the "Officer Owens" - of an early post here - can make you understand fast that no sooner than certain people of that ilk get the message that it's time to give citizens of category X the business, you indeed will be getting the business. And the next thing you know, you find that same person thinks it is OK to misrepresent the facts in court (which happened BTW); after all, you are supposed to go down. Seems like, too, the further away from local government such messages get sent, the more radical the notions get about how to handle those of category X.

I can't say it any better than Ben Stein. Those people getting railroaded today on the basis of a crank call might be despicable as Hell in a multitude of aspects, but I want to say that anybody who can watch the videos of the state overreacting and just say, "it's OK, I don't like those people anyway," is somebody who is part of the problem instead of the solution. The right thing for us to be doing is to decry such things when we see them, and pray to God it won't spread to us next.


Marsha said...

I have not been following the Texas issue except periferally. However, I did read that the State is going to try and show that the religion of polygamy is harmful to children. What I read is that most states just let these folks alone so long as the men DO NOT marry or have sex with underage kids and so long as there is no hint of abuse. So long as they walk the line, states like Utah and Arizona, just look the other way on the polygamy issue.

Texas decided they did not want to look the other way.

While I agree with you that this should be handled properly, and within due process, I don't like the idea of looking the other way. Polygamy is illegal and this is a cult. These children are being raised in it. So to the extent that this is for child protection, seems to me the men need to be locked up and the kids get placed back with the mothers. Problem is that the mothers are not showing the best judgment either. That is where the religion as child abuse comes in. It is a tough call but I do agree with you that there should be no rail roading because of the collective judgment of the masses. I also understand that Texas says that the prank call was not the only evidence they had to go in. Not sure what that means.

I have also been complaining for years about people who say, so what, I haven't done anything wrong, so who cares if the Bill of Rights are bent a little bit. This is just Bush-Fox TV propaganda. Tell that to the folks who have been spied on, have received National security letters, claim they are completely innocent, but they cannot get legal counsel, or go to court on the ground that to tell anyone the contents of the letter is a violation of the law. What a Kafkaesque situation. Right here in the good old US of A.

People are idiotic and short cited. I will not mince words on this one.

Carlw4514 said...

Of course the way around the polygamy laws is to marry more than one in your church, but have only one wife, or no wife, with the state. So that pretty much leaves underage sex as the enforceable law.

I would sure think that it would be possible to get enough evidence to arrest people without depending on crank calls. And if there are people to be arrested, seems to me it can be done in the usual non-dramatic way. Sort of like just arresting Koresh when he went into town instead of dramatically attacking the entire compound at Waco, reporters invited.