Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Magna Carta? Is that Jimmy's brother?

The only good thing about the end of habeas corpus is that there are two less Latin words to remember. Everything else about the death of habeas isn't just bad it will rightly seen as a stain upon this nation rivaling the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II or the racist horrors of the South before, during and more than 100 years after the Civil War. King George smirked and smiled and told you he was making you safer when he lifted his pen and took a line-item veto to the U.S. Constitution. If you have nine minutes watch this with a box of tissues.

In 1215 on a field in the United Kingdom, King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. It established the beginnings of modern ideas of civil and human rights, including the writ of habeas corpus - literally "produce the body." What it really means is you can't imprison someone forever you need to either give them a trial or let them go free. In 1627 King Charles I threw five knights in jail over a tax dispute and they asserted their habeas corpus rights. King Charles I argued that he had the right to simply imprison anyone he wanted at anytime for any reason. Sound familiar? King George Bush perhaps? King Charles' 17th century Gitmo decree led to the "Petition of Right" law, the basis for our Fourth and Eight Amendments to the Bill of Rights, that prevented a King from suspending habeas.

Oh but that was long ago when they didn't even have cell phones or cheddar dogs. How barbaric. Didn't they leech people with fevers? What do they know about human rights? Human rights for terrorists (or innocent cab drivers from Kabul) when they're human!

Reminds me of a "Liberal" who, when writing about the establishment of the writ of habeas corpus said, "...the practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." This "Liberal" went on to write, quoting Blackstone, "To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government." That "Liberal" was Alexander Hamilton, one of the most conservative of the Founder writing in Federalist 84. Ah, what does he know anyway? He's dead. So is habeas. At least it doesn't have to be around to see the other rights we take for granted die one by one by our own King George.

5 Comments:

Blogger Reign of Reason said...

Nicely put...

It simply amazes me that the public puts up with this affront to our system. I guess king George has everyone truly pissing down their leg with fear.

Amercans don't know what it really means to be a citizen of the US.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Howard said...

I went to Salisbury Cathedral yesterday and saw one of the four remaining copies of the document. I then went and lit a candle in mourning.

Oh, the Magna Carta and I have the same birthday, 15th of June. On a different year, mind.

Amusingly the "word verification" thing for this is - "wmdkeys"

3:39 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

What it really means to be a citizen means Bush stickers on your truck, flags and yellow ribbon magnetic stickers on your Japanese car and being irrationally furious at the published list of names - like Michael Moore.

We've lost Habeas Corpus before and got it back, but special powers and special taxes have a record of being very difficult to get rid of once the special event that suggested them goes away. I'm not optimistic.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

We can't get it back now since trying to revive our rights would be seen as "gingerly pampering terrorists" as fat man Denny Haster says.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So when are we going to protest ? Lets get some Magna Carta /
A.D 1215! car stickers going at the very least. And hand them out ! Stand up and be counted- since now they can take your life for no reason anyway .
Scared? -think of Wangari Matthai( bigraphy "Unbowed"- don't just roll over and die!

9:16 AM  

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