“Don’t Let Laws Fall Silent”
Paradigms Lost: The Global War on Terror and the Departure from the Rule of Law.
Avidan Cover, who was involved in a Supreme Court case involving an “enemy combatant” held in Guantanamo Bay, spoke at Drury January 26, 2006. His speech brought out the controversy of the classification of “enemy combatant” and its implications on the Geneva Convention, Universal Human Rights, and the practice of denying rights by creation of this new “classification.”
In creating a new “classification” that has no recognition in the international community, and holding these prisoners outside of the United States, we are denying the fundamental and universal human rights of these prisoners. In essence, they are become non-persons.
Case in point: Torture. Expressly forbidden by international treaties galore, including the Geneva Convention, we are now embroiled in a debate over its use. Cover points out that “all you get with torture is pain.” It endangers our own troops, and is a short term tactic with a losing strategy in the long run. Cover faults the Administration for turning away from out commonly held values that distinguish us from our enemies. Instead, the Executive branch is construing the laws to suit the short term expedient and ignoring laws that get in the way.
Cover argues that this is a paradigm shift from the former acceptance of universal human rights, to a new paradigm in which rights can be stripped through the means of classifications of behaviors. He has a valid and terrifying point.
Now protesters, people engaging in free speech, may be subject to a new classification; Disrupter.
I see this as another slide on a slippery slope. In the study of political science, one discovers that the most efficient of governments is also one of the most undesirable. Dictatorships can be the most efficient, with the executive branch controlling the country, legislatures and courts little more than rubber stamps endorsing policy handed down to them. Are we headed this way? Would 1930’s Germans recognize this pattern? I think they would.
State Rep Candidate Robert Brantley defined what I call the “Slippery Slope of Repression of Rights”:
Exhibitionist of Free Speech to Disrupter.
Disrupter to Dissident.
Dissident to Insurgent.
Insurgent to Terrorist?
Alarmist? Perhaps. For me, better to take alarm at a threat to free speech, and answer Cover’s call to action, and not “let laws fall silent.”