Sunday, January 9, 2011

FEDERAL PARALYSIS

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The Constitution doesn’t say that the public are also entitled to a speedy trial. Maybe the Founders felt that public outcry would be enough. Or maybe they thought that public officials could be counted upon to carry out their sworn duty to enforce the law.

The Founders didn’t know Eric Holder.

Nidal Hasan murdered thirteen people in Texas on November 5, 2009. Fourteen months later our impotent federal bureaucracy hasn’t even decided whether to court marshal him, or if so, when.

I have a hunch that if Hasan had been left to the tender mercies of the Bell County Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney he would have long since been convicted by a “jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed” as required by the Sixth Amendment.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was arrested on March 1, 2003. He has yet to be brought to trial, despite confessing to have launched the 9-11 attack on the United States.

These are some of the thoughts that passed through my mind when Shepherd Smith revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had taken charge of Jared Lee Loughner, the deranged 22 year old man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head and murdered Federal Judge John M. Roll and five other people.

Is it unduly cynical to fear that the Feds will dink around with the case while political hucksters write stories about the danger to our nation posed by right wing extemists?

At least until after the 2012 elections.

Christina Taylor Green, the nine year old girl murdered yesterday in Tucson, was born on September 11, 2001, and lived from slaughter in New York to slaughter in Arizona.

I doubt that her killer will ever be tried, convicted, sentenced and executed under Arizona law.

It’s a damn shame.

How sad it is that, in our age of information and opinion overload, the wheels of justice get bogged down in a mud slide of commentary and analysis.

The simple issue of fact, whether a crime has been committed and who did it, is somehow overshadowed by all the conversation.

The focus on understanding why the crime was committed and trying to assure that it doesn’t happen again gets all the media attention.

Bringing the perpetrator to justice goes on the back burner.

To my old fashioned way of thinking, swift and certain punishment is still the most effective way to deter crime.

The idea that we can somehow, through education, media attention, bodyguards, technology, video cameras, xrays, scanners, trained dogs or psychiatric profiling, prevent future massacres like Tucson or Fort Hood is a fools mission.

There is human evil in the world, just as surely as there are hurricanes and tornadoes

As long as human beings have free will, they have the potential to do evil. No right thinking man or woman would surrender the faculty of their free will in exchange for protection from danger.

Nor would we tolerate the mutation of human brain waves to assure robotic obedience to authority.

So we have to live with mad men and bad men. With insanity and vice.

The opposite of vice is virtue. The antidote for sin is hellfire and brimstone.

A peaceful, just and secure society can only be built on morality, and morality can only proceed from religion.

It is the office of religion to teach the difference between right and wrong. To develop a moral compass. To encourage the intellectual function we know as conscience.

When we chisel the Ten Commandments off of the keystone above the courthouse door, we sever our ties with the Judeo Christian culture that informed our ancestors’ notion of right and wrong.

Then what do we have?

No more “Thou Shalt Not Kill?”

Of course not. Someone might be offended.

How about a Presidential Study Commission on the Causes of Terrorism in Modern Society?

Just the kind of hand wringing thing our federal government does so well.

I can’t wait.

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