Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaoui: response to Tom

Thanks for your comments, Tom.

Regarding (1), the problem was that to prove conspiracy, you have to show an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. If I know that my neighbor is going to commit murder, legally speaking, that knowledge alone does not make me a co-conspirator. Now I agree, morally, I would have an obligation to step forward. However, our legal system protects due process of law by requiring more than immoral thoughts. Immoral actions (or, sometimes, inactions) make one legally culpable.

2) I agree that it was a jury that acted yesterday, but I believe that what the jury did is not an isolated incident. I do not think that one can impute the immorality of our government's actions upon the people as a whole. I believe the American people are starting to wake up to the immorality and injustice being carried out in their names. And I think the jury's actions might be an indicator of that.

3) I wear my seatbelt, too. But I think the "freedom" to go without a seatbelt is quite a bit different than the freedoms of speech, association, assembly, religion, etc. that are protected by the First Amendment. If given the choice between warrantless searches and preemptive, blanket wiretaps on the one hand and a graver risk of terrorist attack, I'd take the risk. But as the USA Patriot Act shows, we've invested a lot of energy in constructing a freedom-gobbling police state infrastructure to protect us from the risk of terrorism. The thing is, 45,000 Americans die in car accidents every year, well over half of whom are alcohol-related. But I don't see the kind of hell-bent enthusiasm about car safety and drunk driving that we see invested in the "War on Terror."

Thanks again for your comments, Tom.



Tom said...

Sorry. I sound far less nasty in person than I do on monitor screens.

My point about the seatbelts is solely to make the point that tension between freedom and safety always exists.

If we are truly at risk of there being some catastophic event unless we adopt some features of tight control, then it could make sense to give up some perceived freedoms. There are no absolutes here; it is a balancing act with dangers and slippity slopes on both sides.

If Americans were to have to live in an atmosphere with suicide bombers in our midst, then I don't know that it would be a way to thumb our nose at the terrorists by not modifying our activities.

I don't think the Moussaoui decision sends much of a message to the world with so much else, good and bad, going on. But I am all in favor of a kinder, more-just America, so it the decision means that, somehow, hurrah.

Dharmasattva said...

Tom, comments are always welcome, even the kind that disagree with me :-) And, no, you didn't sound nasty - just excitable ;-)

Take care,

Carrie a/k/a Dharmasattva