Amy Goodman Is Facing Jail Time for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All.
“The charges against Goodman are a clear attack on journalism and freedom of the press.”
“Goodman had the audacity to commit this journalism on September 3, when she was in North Dakota covering what she calls “the standoff at Standing Rock”: the months-long protests by thousands of Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The $3.8 billion oil pipeline is slated to carry barrel after barrel of Bakken crude through sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and tribe members fear it could pollute the Missouri River, the source not only of their water but of millions of others’, should the pipe ever rupture. Their protests, which began in April and ballooned through the summer months, represent the largest mobilization of Native American activists in more than 40 years—and one of the most vital campaigns for environmental justice in perhaps as long.”
I put myself generally in a category of conservative thinkers on the basis of the absolute nature of our Founding Documents. That means that over time I have engaged increasingly less in supporting GOP rhetoric. In fact, I now isolate myself from supporting GOP positions purely on the basis of party stance, because the GOP is destroying itself with self contradiction.
Correct conservative thought coincides with the concept of individual liberty, and supports only that which which favors individualism and therefore Constitutionalism.
The infliction of torture falls within a pattern of thought which would deny individuals the basic constitutionally defined right to compassionate treatment. It is evil. Torture is one area in which I and the GOP (and the CIA) do not see eye to eye. Torture is pure evil. A right to inflict torture upon the accused is not and should not be a political issue. It is a moral issue.
The 8th Amendment
By the authority of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted upon the accused.
Just so you don’t have to look it up yourself, here are the exact words of that Amendment:
“Amendment 8 Rights of Accused. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Why, might we suppose, did the Founders include this Amendment? Is it possible that certain supporters of the American Revolution underwent cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of King George’s thugs? Is it possible that the roles now might appear to be reversed, but that there is possibly yet another parallel with Original Intent and what is going on politically in the world today?
To anyone who claims that the right not to be tortured belongs only to American citizens, may I point out that the Declaration of Independence clearly states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,….” ?
It says ALL men, and not just Americans. ALL men. And that’s also why they chose the word “inalienable”. Rights belong to your conscious being. Rights are a part of you, and cannot be removed from you any more than your heart or your brain could be removed from you. Your rights ARE you.
To claim then, that human beings who are not American citizens have no inalienable Rights to exercise while on US soil is completely irrational and self contradictory. It is, in fact, to claim that those who are not Americans are not to be classified as “men”, in the sense that the Declaration of Independence uses that word.
One popular false belief that would lead to the conclusion that torture of non Americans is constitutional, is the belief that the Constitution “granted” inalienable rights to men, specifically to Americans. The Constitution did not “grant” rights to anyone. It simply “enumerates” those rights. It spells them out, as they ARE. It enumerates them for ALL men. Don’t forget the meaning of that word “inalienable”. The Declaration itself states that it is SELF EVIDENT that truth applies to ALL men.
If it were true that inalienable rights were granted only to Americans, then foreigners do not count, and have therefore no rights on our soil. But if rights ARE self evidently inalienable for ALL men, as is clearly spelled out in the Declaration, the only way anyone could be excluded from exercising their rights would be for the accused to be counted outside of the grouping called “men”.
We are all Human Beings
Taking this to a logical conclusion, those who support torture have come to the conclusion that its deserving recipients are less than human. I disagree.
If we are all human, it is a self contradictory position that inalienable rights do not belong to some, or that they can only apply at certain times, and in certain locations.
Many are also enraged about the heinous nature of the terrorism carried out by the accused, and appear to be using this as a justification for torture. This is an “eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth” mentality. The heinousness of the accused crime is a totally independent subject from the infliction of torture upon the accused, of whom it is possible may be many innocent parties. The heinous nature of terrorism must never be made an excuse for making exception to the absolute truths in our Founding Documents, documents which recognize that rights can be taken from no man.
No Emotional Fervor Please
Is this the spirit of the American way? Are exceptions to be made to the truths contained in our founding documents because there is great political and emotionally charged fervor driving the feeling?
Emotional fervor lacks principle, compassion, and logic, and can drive groups of human beings to support ad justify evil. Allowing ourselves to be run over by the unthinking emotion of reactionary evil is not befitting of what America’s so-called Christian supporters claims as a Christian nation. It is self contradictory, just like the GOP.
Two Grand Jury Acquittals in a Row in Police Abuse Cases. Does this smell right?
Last week a grand jury cleared New York City patrolman Daniel Panteolo of any wrong doing after he was recorded on video applying a fatal illegal choke hold to Eric Garner. Garner’s alleged crimes were selling black market cigarettes and of course, that catch all charge that always works in the favor of the officer, “resisting arrest”. Did Eric Garner deserve to die because he resisted arrest for the non-violent crime of selling untaxed cigarettes?
Grand juries seldom acquit. History confirms that if a case goes far enough to go before a grand jury, the chances are literally better than 99% that the case will go to trial. In consideration of the fact that two independent grand jury decisions involving high profile police abuse cases have resulted in charges against police officers being dropped within the period of just a few weeks, is it reasonable to suspect that something corrupt might be afoot with respect to grand jury decisions involving police abuse cases? Only the jurors themselves could honestly answer that question.
The police union consistently stands behind each and every officer
In response to the decision favoring Panteolo, in a recent AP news article, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a union organization representing police officers, was quoted as saying that “Police officers feel like they are being thrown under the bus” He went on to say “ You cannot go out and break the law. What we did not hear is that you cannot resist arrest. That’s a crime.”
Watch the video for yourself. Garner was asthmatic. As he was resisting arrest, he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. Panteolo didn’t back off. Garner died.
Yet, supporters of the officer argued before the grand jury that Garner contributed to his own death, saying that the very fact that he could repeatedly say “I can’t breathe” proved that he could indeed breathe! Something smells rotten in Denmark.
A Professor of Police Studies stands up for the police enforcing petty bullshit laws with lethal force.
“Everyone is just demonizing the police,” said Maki Haberfeld, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of criminal justice. “But police follow orders and laws. Nobody talks about the responsibility of the politicians to explain to the community why quality-of-life enforcement is necessary.”
The quality and intention of law has been forgotten
You’re really kidding aren’t you, Professor Habefeld? Have you ever thought about examining the content and quality of the policies and laws on the books? Could it be that the people themselves do not believe that “quality of life enforcement” as you call it, is at all necessary? Is it the politician’s role to change the people’s minds for them? Or is it the people’s role to replace politicians who would attempt to govern their beliefs?
Is the Professor aware that our representatives do not make conditions for the people, but rather, that they are to make decisions in response to the peoples’ wishes? A proposition like yours, Professor Habefeld, might be found true in a dictatorial monarchy, but not in the constitutional republic of the United States.
Our now socialized society is faced with a myriad of new petty and contradictory bullshit laws, all put in place by representatives acting in their own self interest, rather than in the interest of their constituency.
The real root of the police abuse problem lies in the existence of a mountain of bullshit laws that protect nobody
Yes, police are obligated to follow orders and laws. The excessive taxation of tobacco is just one more unnecessary law. Nobody deserves to die over it. But apparently in Habefeld’s view, it really is entirely necessary to overtax nicotine addicts. After all, smokers are only ignorant peasants who don’t understand what’s best for them, and politicians do know what’s best for this obviously inferior peasant class of smokers.
Evil is progressive
Once the foot is inserted in the door, evil pushes it open for itself wider and wider, one step at a time. Once it gets its victims to believe that line about the politicians knowing what’s best for the smokers, then it will have them believing that it’s entirely necessary to strong arm and discipline people who attempt to circumvent this “entirely necessary” cigarette tax by selling them on the black market.
Once evil’s victims believe that, they are likely to believe the next step, namely, that black market cigarette sellers must be stopped because they promote nicotine addiction. That is, by the way, the very same addiction that the cigarette tax itself is also promoting. The cigarette tax is designed to generate tons of revenue.
Evil’s victims then must agree that if someone dies at that hands of an officer enforcing a law designed to protect the public from the evils of nicotine addiction, then that’s acceptable and righteous. After all, enforcing this cigarette tax law by stopping black market sales probably saved the life of some poor victim from nicotine addiction. In evil’s view, that poor victim’s life would be more valuable than the life of some scumbag who dared to sell cigarettes on the black market, circumventing the City’s perceived right to rob smokers on account of their nicotine addiction.
Officers, please stand up for what is right!
Police officers who are capable of thinking for themselves instead of letting their union do it for them must conclude that solving the police abuse problem requires individual courage. Nobody deserves to die over minor “quality of life” offenses that have nothing to do with discouraging real crime. Until bad laws can be removed from the books, the best way to preserve the reputation of the police is for officers to exercise courtesy and common sense. Simply leave people alone who are not hurting others, and stop being abusive.