Wednesday, December 24, 2003

There's Always One In Every Decision


The good news: a panel of the 2nd US Court of Appeals finally, FINALLY, told the Bush administration that simply declaring someone an "enemy combatant" did not provide them with an excuse to deny that person a lawyer or rights to a trial. The bad news: it isn't over.

Jose Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 and has been held in a navy brig in South Carolina for a year and a half. He hasn't been allowed to see his lawyers. Although the government has said that Padilla was involved in a dirty bomb terrorist plot he hasn't been charged with a crime in any court of law. The view of the government is that they didn't even have to say what he was supposed to be guilty of, it was enough for them to declare that Mr. Padilla was an "enemy combatant" to detain him in the brig FOR LIFE in ISOLATION if they wanted to do so.

Bush's people still think that's the way it should work and will probably appeal. They are no doubt encouraged by the fact that one member of the 3 judge panel actually sided with them. The idea of the dissenting opinion was that the president needs the power to detain people who may be a threat to the public.

Let's reflect on that dissenting opinion to get a clear idea in our own minds as to what a screaming imbecile that one lame judge is.

The man has been detained for one and a half years. The immediate threat is over. HE'S IN THE BRIG. He's detained already. The issue isn't the detention. His arrest was proper. The issue is, once you've got him, YOU STILL HAVE TO LET HIM SEE A LAWYER AND TRY HIM AND LET HIM GO IF HE TURNS OUT TO BE INNOCENT.

And oh yes, the Bush Administration has had A YEAR AND A HALF to do that. Did I make that clear enough? A friggin YEAR AND A HALF.

Here is a personal note for that one lame judge: * Guess what? I think you're a threat to the American people. Good thing I'm not the president or I might declare your ass enemy combatant material and put you in isolation for, oh I don't know, how about for YEAR AND A HALF?! * -- Ha, ha, just kidding -- Dr. Wes.

Speaking of South Carolina, that was where police stormed a school recently and searched a hundred students for illegal drugs, some of them at gunpoint, because their principal thought it would be swell. What we have here is another threat to the American people. There are getting to be too many of these.

I don't expect the police to know or understand the constitution. That would be dreaming. But is it asking too much for a school principal to have read it with comprehension?

What part of the Fourth Amendment does that principal not grasp, I wonder? Was it the part about "the right of the people to be secure… against unreasonable searches?" Was he not aware that minors also constitute people? Was it the part about how search warrants were required to be specific? How specific is searching every kid in a school hallway whether they have done anything suspicious or not just because a crime may or may not have at one time occurred in that hallway days or weeks earlier by completely different people?

Here's another one, folks. Say you're on vacation in Guadalajara, Mexico, and our government, or some imbecile in it, decides they want to incarcerate you for life without charges or a hearing. Here's how they could do that. They would seize you in Mexico without clearance from the Mexican authorities. Then, they would take you to Guantanamo Base ("Gitmo") and imprison you with all the Taliban, as an "enemy combatant" (It doesn't matter if you are or not, they don't have to prove that part. They just have to declare it.)

Gitmo, a secure US military enclave, isn't really America, so all that constitution BS doesn't apply. -- that's the essence of our government's actual legal position as they fight for that power to the Supreme Court. What a crock.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Housed Man Eats German

Since our last column was about such a morbid subject as the death penalty, I've decided this time to lighten things up: Let's talk about consensual cannibalism!

Until last week I didn't think of consensual cannibalism as anything more than a fun idea for a grotesque novel. While I have often fantasized about slaying and devouring my enemies I've never entertained the idea of eating a willing dinner, especially not one that was still talking and asking me how I liked him.

But then Armin Meiwes, a 42-year old German computer technician got himself charged for killing and eating a 43-year old man who had asked him to do so. I feel the intense need to quote Eric Cartman at this juncture: "Holy crap, dude! This is really [beeped]-up right here!"

I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, "Dr. Wes, how can you make light of this horrible situation? Cannibalism is such a gross and heinous act." Yes, but what I think is if you can't make fun of people who practice the occasional consensual cannibalism, who can you make fun of?

Besides, it's not like I'm going to gross you all out with the gruesome details of Mr. Meiwes confession or from the videotape he made of the slaughter and feast. That would be obscene and I am totally opposed to public obscenity. I believe obscenity should be done in the privacy of one's own homes. Just like Mr. Meiwes was doing. Sort of.

But there is still so much to talk about that isn't gruesome. For example, there is Mr. Meiwes' confession that his ideal meal would be someone like the slim, blond, Sandy from the 60's TV series Flipper. How can you thoroughly detest a man who adores Flipper's boyfriend?

Mr. Meiwes was in fact caught because he was soliciting a second cannibalee (cannibant? cannibait?) on the Internet as the meat from his first, a Mr. Brandes, was becoming used up. At that time he expressed his disappointment in Brandes to others, saying that Brandes had been too fat and older than he expected, and he had been in too much of a hurry to be eaten. Mr. Meiwes preferred lean meat and wanted time to get to know his meal personally before jumping into butchery. From Meiwes' point of view, Mr. Brandes was the culinary equivalent of a fat slut. "If I wanted to eat someone uncommunicative, I could've slaughtered a sow," he must have thought.

The really funny (peculiar) thing about this story isn't so much in the details but in the comparative lack of interest in it by our US media. What's up with that? It isn't because of the castration bit, which I've so mercifully omitted. Our news media didn't restrain themselves covering the Bobbitts. It isn't because of the cannibalism itself, or we wouldn't have heard so much about Jeffrey Dahmer.

I think everyone was left speechless because the act was consensual. On the one hand you have the naïve social libertarians who have always said that what consenting adults do is nobody's business, but who never had this in mind. On the other hand you've got the moral absolutists who have always said that what consenting adults do is going to get all of them front row seats in hell. But they're all keeping quiet, afraid this will turn into the new fad, and their children will line up for it.

After all, look what happened when they made a fuss about sodomy. The Supreme Court went and declared it legal! Now, as all the conservatives know, our children are sodomizing one another in our grade schools while our liberally educated teachers cheer them on. Clearly the conservatives made a strategic error on that one.

Or, there's another possibility. The word is that Mr. Meiwes lived in a charming 44-room 18th century manor, with his own garden and a barbecue out back. Mr. Meiwes has been decidedly homeful. He is one of Germany's many non-street people.

Could it be that the US media, which are dominated by homeful people, are once again covering up the fact that their kind are prone to such sickness?