On Justice, the Patriot Act, Government Information Awareness.

Saturday, 2003-07-05; 04:21:00

A small entry on some political issues that have caught my attention in the past couple of days.

In the tradition of trying to post more often so as to spread out my thoughts, I thought today I'd post on a few articles that I read recently that caught my attention.

The first is this article. It talks about how a man was killed in a head-on crash with a potential drunk driver. Family members and friends who knew the killed dancer, Malonga Casquelourd, "reacted in disbelief Thursday after a judge in Oakland released on bail the suspected drunken driver accused of killing him last month in a head-on crash." I suggest you read the whole article (it's not incredibly long) before you continue reading my commentary.

What irked me to no end is the reaction of these family members to the releasing of the defendant on bail. Let me get this out of the way first: yes, it's very tragic that the man was killed in the head-on accident, and yes, he should be brought to justice if he was indeed responsible for the accident. But that's no excuse whatsoever to deny the defendant his rights.

People have the right to post bail (except in the most extreme circumstances when the defendant may be actively dangerous), and I don't see any right for these people to claim that "bail should be forfeited" in this case. That's ludicrous, at best. Our justice system was created so that people would get a fair trial, and so that people would be treated equally when dealing with our justice system. But creating a double-standard that calls for other people's rights to be "forfeited" is not right. No doubt if the family members were in the same situation as the defendant, the would want the ability to post bail, right? Furthermore, by advocating that the defendant's right to post bail should be forfeited, they're basically going against the "innocent until proven guilty" mantra upon which our justice system is based. By denying this defendant's rights, they're basically saying that he's guilty without the trial even having commenced!

I claim no knowledge on the facts and evidence in this case, but I think that the family members should allow the justice system to do its job. Our justice system is not based on revenge; rather, it is based on justice. Emotional connections have no place in the courtroom. These people have no right to deny a defendant his rights solely because they killed one of their closest friends or relatives. It is definitely sad that this dancer was killed in an accident, and I sympathize with the family, but there is no grounds for becoming outraged at allowing the defendant to post bail.

This article also caught my eye. It talks about how a group of citizens in the city of Mount Shasta want to order the police department to refuse to cooperate with federal authorities who are acting under the Patriot Act, which was passed after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York. This is an issue that I think is very important, because the Patriot Act severely erodes our rights as United States citizens. For a detailed analysis of the Patriot Act, see this page courtesy of our friends, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I thought it was interesting that 3 states (Hawaii, Alaska, and Vermont) as well as other counties and cities nationwide have passed resolutions against the Patriot Act. That fact alone is testimony to the fact that the Patriot Act has broad sweeping powers that our government should never have allowed. I just hope that with the coming presidential election, these issues will start to be debated, so that people will be more educated on their rights as citizens, and on very dangerous legislation like the Patriot Act II.

Last but not least, here's a website whose goal is pretty interesting -- to allow citizens to monitor their government. Dubbed "Government Information Awareness", it seeks to inform citizens about the goings-on in all the different branches in the United States government. This is an interesting idea to be sure, and it'll be interesting to see if it's effective in educating the populace.

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