Chad Perrin: SOB

17 October 2006

this morning’s blog spam irony

Filed under: Humor,Metalog — apotheon @ 06:48

There are, I’ve noticed, some patters to weblog comment spam. One indicator is a very generic positive comment that could be applied to basically any weblog post anywhere — which is probably important if you want your weblog spam to look like a legitimate comment while still letting your spambot do the posting for you. Another indicator is when the post to which a particular comment responds is six months old and more than a hundred posts ago. Yet another is an obviously commercial website URL entered into the URL field for the comment, the idea of course being that the “name” used for the comment post will be turned into a link to that URL (generating increased Google PageRank and hopefully luring click-happy tourists in the weblog to that commercial website). There are a number of other indicators as well, and they’re just indicators (not hard-and-fast rules for identifying weblog spam) but those are a small sampling that are particularly relevant this morning.

This morning, those three indicators converged in a single attempt to spam SOB. The text of the spam comment (which of course went straight into the moderation queue rather than being displayed) was:

Good observation, your ideas are right on.

I won’t reproduce the URL here, because I don’t care to reward spammers, but it was clearly commercial and had something to do with outsourcing. The post to which it attempted to reply, though, was what made this instance of attempted weblog comment spam so deliciously ironic: a bit about the blog spam situation

Ain’t life grand?

a “free” nation without habeas corpus

Filed under: Cognition,Liberty — apotheon @ 12:37

In reading a short statement by good friend Sterling, in response to my own most recent SOB entry at links for 2006-10-17, a thought occurred to me. His statement was:

The opposing argument: requiring the Writ would slow down anti-terrorist operations. I say, let them be slowed. Take care of individual liberties — or why defend America?

He asked a question that is pretty much always asked rhetorically, and I think it was in this case as well. For a brief, brilliant moment, though, I considered it as though it were asked in earnest. I realized there is an answer to this question, a serious answer, and that answer lies at the root of the George W. Bush popular voter support that got him into office and kept him there.

The politicians’ motives can be measured in the same cynical fashion we’re inclined to, as always, of course. The people who have voted for Bush and Friends, who will continue to vote for them, and who will argue in favor of the suspension of habeas corpus and the use of torture in interrogations of the potentially innocent, however, have a different and very easily identified motive, if you stop to think about it from the correct perspective.

The problem with the idea of asking why it’s even worthwhile to defend America from terrorists if we cannot keep it free is that the people who support such legislation as the USA PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act do not define “free” the same way the rest of us do (except in the rare case of someone who just doesn’t care about the word “free” in this country, and only cares about strength). Somehow, in their minds, “free” is an outgrowth of something else that is very clearly and obviously at the end of these legislative policies:


They want a Christian nation. As far as they’re concerned, this is already a Christian nation in spirit, and they just want to make it a Christian nation in law and structure. Anything that stands in the way of that — anything at all — is fair game. There’s no “benefit of the doubt” in judging the right or wrong of an act: if you cannot be certain ethically whether something someone did is right or wrong, your uncertainty will not slow them for an instant. All they care about is morality, in the hard-right Christian tradition of moral good and evil. They see no distinction between social necessity in an empirical world and moral necessity in a Biblical world.

Ultimately, in the end, all “religious freedom” means is that it’ll be a hundred years or so before people can be stoned for worshipping the “wrong” God as encouraged in the Old Testament. In fact, the phrase “Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live” holds a place near and dear to the hearts of some of these people in a very frightening way — a way that condemns neopagans and the like, even while they will give lip service to “religious freedom”.

It’s not slowing anti-terrorist operations that bothers them about the Great Writ, it’s slowing the anti-Islam war. It’s the Last Crusade they want to expedite. Terrorism is just their “proof” that those Muslims should’ve been wiped out centuries ago — or converted.

That’s probably half the civilian voter population that fervently defends stuff like the Military Commissions Act. The other half is probably just toeing the Republican party line, thoughtlessly, with no willingness to apply any critical thought to the issue.

“My party, right or wrong.”

NOTE: Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against killing terrorists. Execution of terrorists is a great idea.

I just want to make damned sure that they’re terrorists, by a secular definition of the term “terrorist” — regardless of whether they’re terrorists for religious reasons — before the first stone is cast.

15 October 2006

the simple truth of the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 06:26

The common argument in favor of the Military Commissions Act’s restriction of habeas corpus is summed up by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist:

We don’t want (terror suspects) to have everyday rights of American civilians right here. These are war criminals.

There’s really no other argument in support of it that comes even close to sounding sane, though there are of course a plethora of rephrasings out there (such as the rhetorical “Don’t you want the government to be able to stop terrorists?”).

There are half-arguments, of course. They tend to involve phrases such as “This doesn’t apply to US citizens!” or “It’s only for enemy combatants!”

They all boil down to one simple fact: supporters are working on the assumption that, somehow, it will only apply to people who are guilty. The problem with that, of course, is that the Great Writ’s entire purpose and the whole necessity for its existence is bound up in one single, simple aim:

The Writ of Habeas Corpus exists only to ensure that we have the right guy in custody.

One must wonder why the hell the government needs to deny accused terrorists access to the courts under a Writ of Habeas Corpus if the accused are actually guilty. If they’re guilty, the court proceeding that results from the serving of such a Writ should determine that — or, more to the point, should determine whether there’s sufficient reason to even believe the accused is guilty to an extent that warrants detention and investigation.

If a Writ of Habeas Corpus leads to a decision that the accused is in fact not being held justly, the person should damned well not be held any longer! That wrongly accused person should receive an apology and a ride home. That person should never have been detained in the first place. Mistakes happen, but they are not solved by ensuring that we cannot discover whether or not a mistake has been made.

The Military Commissions Act in no way improves the ability to pursue a “war on terror” by suspending habeas corpus. All it does is sweep mistakes under the rug and ensure that those who are wronged in pursuit of the specter of security will only continue to be wronged indefinitely, and nobody can do anything about it. It seems impossible that those Senators and Representatives who voted for this, or that the President who will be signing it into law on the 17th, even for a moment considered the likelihood that they might think differently of this if they did not currently hold public office.

In short, the simple truth of the Writ of Habeas Corpus is that all it does is help sort the good guys from the bad guys, to the benefit of the good guys, and suspending it in whole or in part for those literally or effectively detained on US soil in no way benefits anyone at all except those whose errors destroy the lives of innocent bystanders and should be brought into the light of public scrutiny.

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