"Wing of the Democratic Party made up of workingmen and reformers, opposed to monopolies and financial policies that seemed to them antidemocratic and conducive to special privilege. The Locofocos received their name when party regulars turned off the gas lights to oust the radicals from a Tammany Hall nominating meeting. The radicals responded by lighting candles with new matches known as locofocos and nominated their own slate." (From: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9048706 )

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I am husband and father in a family of four, wife Verna, son Thomas, and daughter Jennifer. We've lived in Springfield's 137th District for over ten years at 800 W Calhoun St, and love the Grant Beach area. I was born to a military family, my mother and father met at Ft Leonard Wood. I was born in Ft Hood Texas, and travelled throughout my childhood, with most of my time spent in any one place in the Rolla Mo area. When I completed my own four year hitch with the US Navy, I settled here in Missouri, living in Mt Vernon. I moved into Springfield in 1994 to attend (then) SMSU and stayed, finding our permanent home in the Grant Beach Park area.

Monday, January 30, 2006

“Don’t Let Laws Fall Silent”

Drury Convocation Series: Judge Warren White Speaker
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.”