Saturday, April 14, 2007

You choose your leaders and place your trust

(picture from Gerry Broome/Associated Press; Polaris)

Think justice has been served now that the Duke lacrosse guys have been exonerated? Think again.

Charles Pierce writing at Eric Alterman's place:
One of the accused, Reade Seligmann, pronounced himself astonished at how easily the presumption of innocence could be cast aside by the media and, worse, by law-enforcement. Instead of asking him to call Gary Condit on that score, or asking him whether he's on his way to law school and thence onto the ACLU's legal team, I would ask him to look around in the light of what happened to him.

. . .Where's the presumption of innocence at Gitmo or in the black prisons in Europe? Where was it when people debated the Patriot Act, or wrote books -- Hello, Michelle. Nice to have your reasoned input on the Imus case. Now go back under your rock -- about how internment isn't necessarily a bad idea? Where was it when Rudy Giuliani encouraged the worst impulses of the New York Police Department? Where was it for Patrick Dorismond or Amadou Diallo? Where was it when Antonin Scalia said actual innocence was no bar to upholding a criminal conviction? Where was it during the increasingly ridiculous "war on drugs"? Where is it when my kids lose their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights as soon as they walk through the schoolhouse door? We are a country that begs -- in reality and in its popular entertainment, like 24 or the Law and Orders -- for prosecutors to shred the Bill of Rights to keep us safe from scary powders and scary brown people. Not long before Seligmann and his teammates were cleared, a man named James Giles walked out of a prison in Texas after serving 10 years for a rape he didn't commit because a DNA test proved he hadn't committed it. Nobody knew his name when he went off to prison. People probably cheered. I hope Reade Seligmann realizes, once his justifiable anger clears, that every time we hand over our civil liberties to some charlatan who trafficks in empty promises to protect us, we make a Mike Nifong not merely possible, but inevitable.