On human rights, rights and morals

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 18, 2008

Prompted by the post below, I want to just touch on a couple of human-rights related issues.

The first one is prompted by Obama's claim that the issue of when babies deserve human rights (or put another way, when does human life begin) is "above my pay grade."

Think about that answer with regard to another human rights issue: Treatment of suspected (or known) terrorists.

You can come to different conclusions about where the line between aggressive interrogation techniques and torture should be drawn. You can disagree on what legal rights these people deserve.

But can you really plead ignorance and disinterest? If you're a prison guard at Gitmo and are ordered to do things that you are morally opposed to, do you resign? Refuse to participate and accept the consequences? Or do you just do it and say the moral judgment is "above my pay grade?"

On the issue of when life begins, as a moral individual, you can come down all sorts of places. Conception, quickening, birth (or, like Obama, a few days after birth -- maybe). But does Obama really believe that come Judgment Day, "above my pay grade" is going to fly with the Almighty?

Second, on the rights of those held at Gitmo.

I pretty regularly listen to the Hugh Hewitt show via podcast, especially the weekly so-called "smart guys" segment. The liberal half of the "smart guys" is UCI School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. As I've listened to Chemerinsky over the past several weeks and months on the issue of those held at Gitmo, I've wondered where exactly he comes down on what rights those people have under the law.

A few weeks ago, Chemerinsky complained that the detainees didn't have the right or opportunity to confront their accusers.

That is just a little bit insane to me. If they must have that right, the second a soldier or Marine captures a terrorist, does the military need to pull them off the battlefield in order to be a witness in a trial? If they aren't removed from the battlefield and end up being killed by some other terrorist, has the case against the first terrorist been necessarily lost?

What I would really like to hear from Chemerinsky is a comprehensive listing of the rights that he believes captured terrorists -- those in violation of the laws of war at the time of capture -- deserve.

Who knows, maybe the Constitution is a suicide pact.


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August 2008



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