Saturday, March 13, 2010

Attacks on Freedom from the Right

As a Libertarian, I have learned there is more to fear from conservatives attacking our basic freedoms enshrined in the US Constitution than from liberals. Conservatives are more likely to talk up small government and personal freedom (and “sound” libertarian), and then advocate government enforcement of their which often includes the expansion of government power, be it by snooping into our libraries and phone calls (with the Patriot Act) or even into a woman’s womb (with their anti-choice agenda).

Libertarians have to call out the conservatives on two recent proclamations:

  1. Glen Beck claiming he knows better than you what religion or congregation you should belong to; and
  2. Lynne Cheney’s attack on the patriotism of lawyers defending detainees as provided for in the law of this land.

Glen Beck’s Attack on Freedom of Religion.
This one has me steaming! Recently Glen Beck ask his audience to leave their congregation if the words “social justice” or “economic justice” are used. He said: “I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.”

While I support his freedom to say anything he likes, I don’t want anyone – in government or in the media (like Mr. Beck) – telling me ANYTHING about how I should practice my religion!!

No one has the right to tell me which religion to believe in or which house of worship or congregation to attend! The First Amendment to the US Constitution may only talk about Congress not making any law to prohibit the free exercise of religion; I take it as my personal right that I am the one and only person who decides what I believe in and where I choose to go to practice this religion. No one who believes America is the land of Freedom should be letting someone like Mr. Beck tell them how to practice religion!

Lynne Cheney’s Attack on Defense Lawyers
The implication of these attacks by Keep America Safe was to question the patriotism of lawyers that would defend detainees who were accused of being terrorists. There was another issue that lawyers who defended detainees should be “outed” if they want a government position.

Here’s thing: Amendment 6 of the US Constitution guarantees the right of a defendant to have counsel at trial. Even in a military trial (as were the cases in question), there is also the right for counsel. Within the legal profession, there is a tradition that no lawyer is looked down upon for defending an unpopular defendant.

And there are plenty of unpopular defendants accused of despicable crimes. There are mass murderers, serial rapists, organized crime, kingpins, pedophiles, and other despicable criminals. But when they go on trial, they all have a right under the laws of this land to defense counsel. From the time of John Adams providing defense counsel to British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre, the tradition is not to look down upon those who defend unpopular defendants.

And we need this right to prevent government tyranny. Without a trial system where the government has to prove its case, it would be all to easy to trump up a case against anyone it didn't like or considered an "enemy." If they do that to detainees or alleged terrorists today, they could do that to you and me tomorrow!

Even in this post-9/11 world, we have to preserve our freedoms and the American way. Conservatives seem to need an "enemy" to validate their policies. Libertarians make no such distinctions. Today's terrorist could be tomorrow's patriot. Today's enemy can be tomorrow's friend. Therefore, equality under the law for all.

So, why do some conservatives think detainees are so more evil or threatening than mass murderers, serial rapists, pedophiles, or even the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre (all of whom are allowed defense counsel)? Terrorists are not the only ones out there who want to deprive us of life and liberty. There's plenty of criminals with the same aim!

Yet it seems part of some conservative agenda to fully demonize detainees and terrorists to the point that they should have absolutely no rights and do not deserve legal counsel. Then pile it on by promoting guilt by association: anyone who would assist these terrorists is therefore not patriotic.

My point here is to quote the conservative mantra of the ‘60s and ‘70s” Law and Order. If the laws of the land guarantee legal counsel for detainees in military trials, then they should have counsel and any lawyer providing that service is acting within the law and should not be disparaged. If some conservatives don’t like the law, well, then work to change the law! But we must obey the laws as they are! And don’t attach those who are providing a necessary role as prescribed by law.

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, about the defense attorneys, and the principle that everyone is entitled to the best legal advocacy possible. John Adams chose to defend the British soldiers accused of war crimes, in the Boston massacre, for just such a reason. Coincidently this happened in the city where you also live. Now about the churches. I would assume that Glenn Beck regards talk of social justice to be synonomous with the social gospel, if not libertation theology. He therefore feels that it is inappropiate for religious leaders to weigh in on political matters, eventhough he hypocriticly overlooks the fact that churches side with the Right, just as much if not more than the Left. In fact at this one church I attended when I was a teen, they had a "wall of freedom", bulletin board, in which they'd post conservative right-wing propoganda. Even worse, some ministers are notorious for repeating false claims about rival candidates. Like for instance the slander that Pres. Obama had to endure during the campaign. And people will believe it because it comes from clergy. Then even when I attempt to refute there allegations, I get disregarded, because the Pastor is thought as being lead by the Holy Spirit. So therefore supposedly he is as infallible as a Pope. So therefore if he can be shown to wrong, then other church teachings might be brought under scrutiny. So I personally feel that the churches should keep out of matters of public policy, and that where the Bible is silent, so should the pastors/priests.