Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Two Encouraging News Items

Both from court decisions, although you might call this one a "court" decision. The only two detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to be charged with crimes have both had all charges against them dismissed. The reasons for these dismissals are complex, and I have not researched the matter in detail, but I believe it has something to do with the cockeyed way in which the GWBush administration first sought to strip such detainees of their rights by labeling them as "enemy combatants", combined with the way in which Congress later (at Bush's urging) sought to strip such detainees of their rights by labeling them as "unlawful enemy combatants" after Bush's first attempt was deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, along with the fact that these two schemes don't quite match up. There's some other stuff, but the more I read about it, the more my head hurts.

I describe this item as encouraging with the following caveat: I certainly do not -- and would not -- take any pleasure from seeing an actual terrorist, or an actual terrorist sympathizer, avoid prosecution or punishment for actual misdeeds against this country, its citizens, or its property.

But this caveat only holds IF the person accused of such misdeeds actually did them (or in the case of prosecution if there is probable cause to believe that the person actually did them). These, of course, are the standards our criminal justice system has used for the 200+ years of its existence. I have seen no convincing argument as to why these standards should now be changed (lowered) in the prosecution and punishment of the modern day class of criminals known as "terrorists".

The second item needs no caveat. Our parental friends at the wise and puritanically omniscient FCC have been unequivocally bitch-slapped by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. According to this most excellent court opinion (of which I have read every marvelous word set forth in its 50+ pages), broadcast networks cannot be fined for "fleeting uses" of words like "fuck" and "shit".

You may recall that Nicole Ritchie and Bono used such words during separate nationally televised awards ceremonies a couple of years back. The FCC in its infinite nanny-like wisdom, took great offense at these occurrences, and sought to smite the evildoers at Fox Broadcasting for so crudely defiling the virgin ears of Michael Powell, et al. They did so by seeking to impose gigantic fines on Fox Broadcasting, in direct contravention to 30 years of FCC policy regarding such incidents, and announced that, henceforth, all fucks and shits would be punishable by license revocation and bankruptcy.

Fox Broadcasting, that great and awful incarnation of degeneration and societal decay, took umbrage at such high-handed tactics, and smote back -- with a lawsuit instituted and propelled ever onward with great force and furious anger by an army of the cleverest and unrelenting team of lawyers ever assembled; ever, since the 2000 election, at least. This shrewd and tireless legal juggernaut inevitably prevailed, and indeed could not have done otherwise considering the fact that the ranks of FCC lawyers arrayed against them had undoubtedly been diligently and faithfully stocked with brothers-in-law, political hacks, and cronies of all stripes -- in other words, the best and brightest that law schools like Pat Robertson's Regent University have to offer.

In a cool bit of irony, the 2nd Circuit based part of its opinion on the fact that GWBush and VP Dick Cheney have used, respectively, the words "shit" and "fuck" publicly, in episodes captured by the news media and later broadcast to the world. Money quote: "Similarly, as NBC illustrates in its brief, in recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced “sexual or excretory organs or activities.” See Br. of Intervenor NBC at 31-32 & n.3 (citing President Bush’s remark to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the United Nations needed to “get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit” and Vice President Cheney’s widely-reported “Fuck yourself” comment to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the U.S. Senate)."


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Gleemonex said...

Sometimes your posts are so beautiful they make me weep -- this is one of them. Thank you.