Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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An Immoral Act: Why Christians of Every Persuasion Should Renounce Torture

There is a grand question before today. Many conservative pundits and television talking heads rail against the evil they find in the world. They condemn, denounce and otherwise opine with feverish rhetoric, against the evils of radical Islam and the terror begotten by such unscrupulous curs, and whoever they deem in need of a good verbal volley from their moral and religious cannons. They remind us of their Christianity, their religiosity and all that accompanies such beliefs. Likewise unwitting individuals who legitimately call themselves Christians sit up and unfortunately listen. An issue that many Christians get their marching orders from conservative pundits on is the issue of torture, specifically water boarding. Many individuals out of a belief that conservatism encompasses the all-knowing Mecca of right and wrong, and that such pundits are naturally right, swallow the vomitous codswallop that comes out of their television. What they hear are explanations of how water boarding isn’t torture, and how we gain information by it. But what many forget, while buying into such odious tripe, is their moral obligations as Christians. Ladies and gentlemen, as a Christian I grew up understanding that the Bible was not a hard book to understand. That application of its principles were simple. While there are indeed deep theological issues that encompass the Scriptures, this is not the principle topic at hand.

As we examine the debate from a Biblical standpoint, let us consider what Biblical precedent is lain down for us to follow. If we cannot follow the simple principles of Christianity, how can we follow those which may not be simple? I Thessalonians 5:15 states, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Plain, simple, yet profound in the area of Biblical precedent(s) against torture. Let us go on.

Former S.E.R.E. instructor and Navy officer Malcolm Vance, in writing for the website “Small Wars Journal,” made a short but profound statement on torture. He said, and I quote, “ We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.” A crisis of honor that not only extends to the very fabric of what America was founded on, but to the very Christian soul of America. So I ask you Christian America, how can we defend torture. We cannot! We Must Not!

The typical rejoinder heard from not only Christian conservatives, but all conservatives, is a brief blurb about how they do not afford us the same courtesy. That can simply be answered by quoting Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And can further be qualified by adding, “even if the person doing unspeakable things to you does not afford you the same courtesy.” If Christ turned the other cheek, shouldn’t we, in our imperfect humanity, do the same? Outside of glorifying God, isn’t our aim to be as much like HIM as we can? I recently heard it asserted that Christ would have approved of torture. First, I cannot believe that with such blatant principles staring them in the face that someone would make such a completely baseless assertion! By virtue of Christ turning the other cheek, and admonishments of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Render not evil for evil,” I can see no reason why Christ would approve of torture.

That theologically conservative Christians alike approve of, abide by and defend torture, makes me wonder if my country is no longer a country of law, but of men. A nation of men abides by torture and the usurpation of their rights, out of fear. A government politico, television pundit or even the President himself defend measures that usurp rights and explain away all moral decency as measures necessary to protect us. A nation of law falls back on the established precedent of the law, and the morality of its religious based heritage. As Christians we fall back on the moral principles and heritage of our upbringing. To deny this is to deny our nations religious heritage. It is to deny that free men are compelled by morality and just law. For a Christian to defend torture is to deny their Christian heritage and the very Biblical morality which emanates from the pages of Scripture. As I once heard it said, it is not about the terrorist, it is about our very soul. As Americans and as Christians if we approve of torture, what is next? Are we going to sacrifice what little remains of our sense of morality, and the few rights that we have after the next disastrous attack? Are we going to sacrifice our rights when the next politician, pastor, priest or minister says so? God forbid! For the surrendering and usurping of our rights should be viewed as though it were no different than the sin we cry out against. Let us be vigilant to defend the gift of liberty God has given us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

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“I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that — persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”-Former President George W. Bush

For the millionth time, if not more, lets be clear. There is no sane, rational person out there who supports the use of the American Justice system on terrorist for the purposes of "reform," "rehabilitation," or for any other purpose that involves releasing these creeps into American society. The whole point is, that when followed as prescribed in the United States Constitution, with no subversion of its principles and procedure, the American Justice system would do more to garner American's a positive favor the world over in dealing with barbaric thugs, than it currently does by considering them to be in a legal limbo or non-existent when it comes to the right to a fair trial. This reeks of the highest form of fear mongering. Are the past and present "Gitmo" proponents really that stupid or are they playing on the fact that most Americans are unaware that we already have terrorist in our prison system, and that a large number of American's don't know it.

Here is a list of notable inmates at the ADX Florence, or United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility. As you will see most of the foreign born terrorist were convicted within the last 10 to 16 years. It is staggering to think that of the convictions in the U.S. Justice system, the average American has forgotten Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center.

By looking at this list it is clear that one can only draw a singular conclusion. That continued insistence that terrorist must be shuttled away and put where they are out of sight, is nothing more than political head games, made easier by the fact that most Americans, either forget, or do not know we have justily prosecuted terrorist before.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

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It seems the Department of Homeland Security has created what has become known as "Constitution Free Zones." It seems as if DHS has taken it upon itself to not only harass certain individuals entering and exiting the US-Mexico border, it has gone as far as to beat and tase mercilessly a Baptist Pastor. In fact this Pastor, Pastor Steve Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona has had run-ins with other officers at other checkpoints. In watching these videos one must ask, who is in the wrong? In the case of Pastor Anderson, anyone who watches the video of his deplorable tasing can only conclude that Pastor Anderson was in the right. How? Many have, and some still consider authority figures like Police officers to be individuals to look up to. In days gone by children were taught that of the strangers you could approach police officers and their various equivalents could be approached freely in times of need or duress. But it seems that today more police officers desire or are unknowingly shedding the shield and armor of the public servant, for the helmet and club of the mercenary. In Pastor Anderson's case he dared to question the word of such individuals. In one case he was blatantly accused of being a terrorist for citing his fourth amendment rights. The straw that broke the camels back was his highly unfortunate tasing and brutal treatment at the hands of DHS border patrol agents and Arizona Depart of Public Safety officers. To give you a short background Pastor Anderson was stopped on the night in question. He was then told that a drug-sniffing dog had alerted to the presence of a human body or drugs somewhere on or in his vehicle. Pastor Anderson calmly challenged this and requested that the dog be brought out again and the inspection performed again. This request was denied. When he calmly refused to exit his vehicle, he was told he was being placed under arrest. Under arrest for what? For simply not complying with orders given from one of the officers. He was tased, brutalized and left to sit in a jail cell over night, and now must endure a long set of legal proceedings to vindicate himself.
In case anyone is wondering Pastor Anderson was not coming from Mexico. In fact the "Border Checkpoint" was fifty miles from Mexico and parallel to the route he was taking.

According to a "Raw Story" article the "Constitution Free Zones," "exists within 100 miles of the US border, where DHS claims the authority to stop, search and detain anyone for any reason. Nearly two-thirds of the US population lives within 100 miles of the border, according to the ACLU, and the border zone encompasses scores of major metropolitan areas and even entire states," citing information compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union. (Link)

The image of police officers as upholders of the law, and as trustworthy men and women is slowly being eroded away, if it is not gone already, and is being replaced with the image that police officers are simply bullies with badges. The notion that one must comply, cannot invoke their Constitutional rights, lest they be thoroughly thrashed and utterly embarassed does not only a great disservice to the American people, but furthers the odds of unfortunate events taking place, lives being lost, and families being made to weep, as a result of the distrust of authorities.


Additional Links:

You can see video of Pastor Anderson being called a terrorist for invoking his 4th Amendment rights his merciless tasing here at the Anderson families youtube channel.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

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To be ready, the Democrats hired -- apparently, only temporarily -- a speed-reader onto the committee's clerk staff.

As it turned out, he wasn't needed: after days of seeing their amendments defeated, Republicans agreed Wednesday that they would not ask for the reading.

But Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican, said he was curious. So, when he introduced a new amendment this afternoon, he requested that Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) have it read as a demonstration.

"The speed-reader clerk will read the bill," Waxman said, giving in.

"Now, I want him to read in a Texas accent," added Barton.

The speed-reader, who gave his name as "Douglas Wilder" (committee staff would not make him available for an interview), gamely started in a kind of speed-drawl. The room broke up.

"Let's have order!" Waxman said.


With the way Washington ignores us and the Constitution it is not surprising that many people have and will find this recent Washington Post article upsetting if not infuriating. Maybe it is just me, but does it seem that a nine-hundred page bill might just be indicative of the problems in Washington? What I mean is that the bureaucracy has grown so much and modern day legislation encompasses so much as a result, that Washington has gotten out of the habit of reading the bills because what they right is so extensive that they don't have the time to read their own bills or find it rather boring to do so. If its not being upset at the lack of Constitutional scrutiny of a nine-hundred page bill, I also completely understand those who think a government hired speed reader is a slap in the face. Ultimately we can expect our elected officials to foist on us some atrocious bill, of which, not one jot or tittle will be Constitutional. And Washington throws another shovel full of dirt on the American dream.


(Please comment)

Monday, June 8, 2009

This may be a little "johnny-come-lately," but I wanted to give Governor Mark Sanford his dues for an excellent off the cuff "Q@A" defense of Libertarianism in response to Lindsey "Republican by day, Democrat by night" Graham's snide swipe at libertarianism..


Sunday, June 7, 2009

The most dangerous diminutions of freedom come from people convinced of their own moral rectitude.-Daniel Hanan, Conservative British MEP

British MEP Daniel Hanan made this statement on "Freedom Watch" while speaking with host Judge Andrew Napolitano. I think it is a profound and salient point, if not a clear cut indictment of the American system. Post-9/11 America has seen increased diminutions of American liberty. Government in its own moral rectitude, save those like Ron Paul, passed the Patriot Act wherein the use of self-written search warrants, which gagged their recipients and threatened prison, sneak and peek searches, dual systems of justice predicated on executive whim for prosecuting alleged terrorist, among a whole host of other things have been approved on the simple justification that it is the right thing to do. The Constitution doesn't matter, due process and fair trials doesn't matter, unquestionable justice doesn't matter. The perceived moral rectitude of Washington continues to blind them to their clear and concise mandate, defend the Constitution. We should be thankful for the few voices, like that of Ron Paul, who are crying in the wilderness. Government rectitude is a danger to our freedom and liberty, the only way we can survive as a nation is if we return to that which was begun two-hundred years ago, a grand experiment of free people, in free and sovereign states, uniting under a the greatest human document to be written (Constitution,) which is daily undone in the halls of Washington by men blinded by their own sense of moral rectitude.

Jonathan B.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Torture: What is at Stake?

Many people associate the idea of torture with the looming specter of a tyrant of yesteryear or a modern sadistic monster of some unfortunate, oppressed and backwards nation. Torture is performed by jackbooted thugs with Swastika arm patches, brutal Japanese Kempetai military police, or the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, not by the United States, where we expect better of ourselves.

Yet today in many quarters of American life, from Average Joe to Washington politico, a debate rages over torture. The key issues are the moral status of “waterboarding,” and the contrived sobriquet of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Those who expect better of their country and her leadership in the area of torture are accused of not caring about the American lives at stake, or, God forbid, of being a liberal. Torture supporters attempt to justify their brutality using the faulty moral argument that because “they,” meaning the terrorists, do it to us, why not afford them the same courtesy? They say that forbidding torture means that we are “coddling” terrorists rather than treating them “as they deserve.” But to any Patriot who believes in the rule of law, justice, and rising above the barbarism of your enemy, these arguments have no basis in fact other than to attempt to disarm a torture opponent’s argument, and besmirch a torture opponent’s character.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that America loses a portion of what is left of her freedom loving heritage, her sense of goodwill, and also her right to oppose such heinous acts like torture, when she abdicates the moral high ground. Who are we as Americans, morally, if we approve of the very things we denounce other countries, governments, and, yes, even terrorists, of doing in this present day world? For what we now would make common place – and claim is morally justified – is precisely what we have prosecuted Japanese and German soldiers in War Crimes Tribunals in the Pacific and Europe. We have even prosecuted American soldiers for subjecting people to waterboarding in Vietnam. Not only is torture immoral, it cannot be legally justified when considered against the backdrop of history that emanates from other wars.

What do we become, or how low must we stoop if we approve of torture? We stoop to the level of scum and thugs who murder innocent people with projectile laden suicide bombs. We stoop to the level of people who murder people like Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg. We stoop to the level of people who have kidnapped American soldiers in Iraq, killed them, and dumped their disfigured corpses in the Euphrates. We stoop to the level of men who maim or murder their wives simply for being free-willed, or wanting to go to school, drive a car, or because their wife is too beautiful. We stoop to the level of men insane enough to commandeer four planes, take hostage the planes flight crew and passengers, and use those fuel laden planes as tools of death and destruction. We must think first about what we are losing when we attempt to justify torture. We are losing the right to be morally outraged when a terrorist kills Americans abroad or at home. We are also losing the right to be outraged when torture is used against our own troops.

In closing, the issue of torture is not about coddling terrorists. It is not about giving them special privileges. It is about honoring the heritage, or at least what’s left of it, that a collection of men began when they convened to write a Constitution that defined the rights of the free people who were taking part an experiment known as the United States of America. Justifying torture undermines one of the core principles of being an American: doing unto others what we would expect to be done unto us, even to those who we know won’t afford us the same courtesy. This principle, which is a part of an even greater American Heritage, I will vigorously and fervorently defend, not for the sake of pampering terrorists, but for the sake of the country I love so much, The United States of America.

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