Thursday, June 15, 2006

And now for a moment of genuine fucking patriotism:

Jean reminds us all where we came from. It needs to be said, goddamit.

-snip- (go read the intro, it's good)

...There's a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Actually, in the work I do, I use those terms almost everyday. So when I talk about how much I like the Constitution, I'm not doing it as someone who thinks the 18th century was just grand. I'm doing it as someone who thinks that while the Framers dropped a lot of balls, they did set up a framework which reasonable people---if they ever get elected---can use as a frame of reference. To anybody that likes throwing around code cites and Common Law vagueries, I recommend a good, solid reading of the Federalist Papers. What you bring away from them will tell you what your real predilictions are, I think. I always read them as a classic illustration of the tension between order and freedom, society and the individual. As we've grown as a nation, our understandings of the Framers' failures has informed our remodeling of the Constitution to reflect the ends of justice that were at its core, even if it those specific ends were disappointed 220 years ago. That's the spirit of the law.

The spirit of the law is this: no matter what exigencies the current regime claims, you are innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to be safe in your person and possessions. You have the right to walk down the street, travel from state to state, buy toilet paper without proving who you are or what your business is. You have the right not to have your head busted in for saying that you have the right.

In exchange for those rights, you have duties. Well, to steal a line from Jebus, just one, really, the Most Important, as it were.

You have the duty not to piss on anybody else's rights.

I wonder about the mind that is aware of the current state of our union, and thinks that any good will come from opening up more citizens to scrutiny. I wonder about the mind that cannot see the fabulous connection between the power we are willing to cede and the freedom that we have. I wonder about the mind that cannot conceive of being next. I wonder about the mind that is so naive to believe that official contact ever stops with 'an inconvenient phone call.' I wonder about the mind that thinks that the innocent don't particularly care about being watched by the same people that have brought us such thrills and spills as Guantanamo. I'd tell that mind to read some case books, to read the rate at which innocents are convicted, sentenced, and even killed, but I know it wouldn't matter. Self-rightousness has no time for facts, no need for reality.

And Mr. Darrow have mercy on my soul, because I almost...almost want to say that self-righteousness does not deserve the protections that it is so quick to strip from others, especially when it is ready to call the thoughtful, guilty.

But I know history. And I know this:

"I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."
(Judge Learned Hand)

1 comment:

gandhi rules said...

This gave me chills