Gitmo Detainees and Human Rights

If you don’t know this about me already, you’ll know now. I have a habit of challenging everything that those around me take for granted as being right. Example, there was recently an uproar about the Gitmo prisoners being brought to Thomson IL, which I don’t think is more than 90 miles from where we live. Within only a couple days, many conservatives came out against it, including Rep. Manzullo. That’s fine, I understand the concern, especially since there is at least one, maybe more, nuclear plants in this area…it would make an ideal target for terrorists, if you’re going to go along with that story. But with the prospect of having terrorists as near neighbors, I’ve observed the common attitude towards them, and I couldn’t just agree with everyone, I had to do some research.

People around here at least, and I suspect around the country, think that the Gitmo detainees are somehow almost “sub-human.” The media certainly doesn’t do anything to correct this feeling. Have you noticed that there’s only one picture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed used in most mainstream newspapers? And it is one of him looking nearly sub-human, his hair tangled and wild, and a “brutal” scowl on his face. Now, I am sure most people don’t even think about this, they just go along with whatever is the popular thought. I am here to say, that will not do. That is not enough. Let me explain.

As I learned from listening to a lecture on the history of natural rights, there are various schools of thought when it comes to where our rights come from. This isn’t a discussion about the origins of natural law, so I’ll spare you the complications. But I tend to align myself with the school of thought that teaches that there are some basic rights that are inherent in human beings, and when you deny people these rights, you are denying their humanity. There’s debate over what these rights are, but certainly it includes the right to life and liberty.

So here’s my point, in case you were getting worried I didn’t have one.

In my opinion, to deny these prisoners the right to life and liberty without due process of law and a fair trial is to deny their humanity.

From what I’ve learned about the Constitution, I’ve realized that the Constitution doesn’t give any rights, it only protects rights that already existed. Maybe some people have some sort of racial/cultural idea about rights, that one group of people have inherent rights and others don’t. But for myself, I believe that every single person on this planet has the right to life, liberty, and property, and that only by proving their guilt in an open and fair court can their rights be taken away.

I am not challenging the guilt of these terrorists, I am only saying that they deserve a speedy and public trial, not because I have a fondness for terrorists, but because of the principle behind it. Once we start saying that some people don’t have the right to a speedy and public trial, we’re on a dangerous road. Don’t forget that only last spring most of these readers were labelled ”right-wing terrorists” in a MIAC report. So if the “regular” terrorists don’t have a right to a speedy and public trial, it is only a short step to denying right-wing terrorists their basic rights, and pretty soon all American citizens are being tried in kangaroo courts, which reminds me of what happened in Europe during, oh, maybe around the 1930’s through the 1960’s…but I won’t name any names here.

So, there’s my take on it. I still don’t like the idea of the terrorists coming to reside in Thomson, but I don’t think we should send them to any penetentiary to sit for years on end, occasionally waterboarded and interrogated.  They should all go to court. If they’re guilty like everyone thinks, there should be enough evidence to prove it. If they’re not guilty, then shame on us for wanting to keep them detained for who know’s how long, just because we can.

You know our government well enough–give an inch and they take a mile. So we give them the inch and let them detain and torture these terrorists indefinitely, and then it might happen to us.

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  1. Pingback: My Opinion: Vindicated « Veritas et Libertas

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