Monday, May 02, 2011

Can we have constitutional rights in this modern era?

From Breaking Things and Killing People by J.E. Pournelle
March, 1998 [1]

We can hope that this whole performance was mere incompetence (and casual disregard for long disregarded constitutional rights to decent treatment), and not a media circus designed to distract our attention from the latest tricks with White House interns. It was farce, except of course to the people involved, and we note the curious similarity between the statements of Leavitt and the performance of POW's praising their captors while admitting to anything their jailers demand of them. I kept watching for Morse or POW tap code messages.

The farce does raise a serious question: Can we have constitutional rights in this modern era?

But surely, it will be protested, this is different: Harris and Leavitt may not have had "military grade" anthrax, but might not the authorities have believed they did? And doesn't the potential damage that might do justify almost any action, just in case?

If so, we surely must give up the whole notion of individual rights, and return to some more ancient system. Bring back lords, who will know and protect their subjects. Revive the ancient Norman cry of Haro! Have ways to earn status, and thus be exempt from suspicion: because the simple truth is that as of this afternoon, everyone in this forum has access to means of causing as much damage as Harris and Leavitt could have caused had they possessed "military grade" anthrax.

[1] Could be ripped from the headlines, today, hmm?

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