Friday, January 23, 2009

We're Better Than That

I remember as a student in eighth grade in Fenton Middle School... longer ago than it seems possible... learning about the US Constitution in our Social Studies class. I remember learning about things such as Habeas Corpus and trial by jury and the Fifth Amendment.
I thought that stuff was great. To me, it meant that the government had to play by the rules and even people thought to be guilty at least had the chance to plead their case in court. People were considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The government couldn't make you testify against yourself and couldn't invade your privacy and couldn't beat a confession out of you.
Then 9/11 happened. Some people at the time felt that in order to preserve our nation, we had to sacrifice many of the things that made our nation worth preserving. Under draconian measures such as the USA Patriot Act, people could be bugged without a warrant, held indefinately without charges and tortured in secret CIA prisons.
Thankfully, President Obama is starting to reverse those trends. In ordering the closure of the secret prisons and the Guantanamo detention center, he is slowly returning us to the high standards of decency that I loved so much about the USA I learned about all those years ago. I'm not, of course, saying some of the people in Gitmo aren't scum. I'm just saying that we should either put 'em on trial and prove it or let 'em go. If they're shown to be guilty, by all means lock 'em up and throw away the key. But at least give them their day in court.
And torture?
Really. We're better than that. Just because the people we're warring against are lacking in compassion, decency and civility doesn't mean we have to sink to their level.
I'm sure I won't agree with everything President Obama does over the next 4 (or 8) years, but in this case, I feel strongly he's doing the right thing.
If we want to be respected in the international community, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. This is a step in that direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment