30 December 2014
Isn’t it remarkable how insensitive people can be when enforcing what they call “sensitivity”, and how offensive when overreacting to something that ought to be inoffensive?
23 December 2014
I previously noted here on the Doman Domain that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” which are the subject of the infamous recent report by Senate Democrats cannot be considered torture; I ought to have added that one might oppose e.i.t.’s for the same reason why one might oppose actual torture, but this does not change my opinion that the employment of those techniques was ethically justifiable. They were not used on domestic lawbreakers, and they were not practiced for the sake of sadism; they were administered to gain intelligence that would help to prevent additional terrorist attacks and to hunt down those responsible for what attacks had already taken place. I certainly don’t want to be un-Christian, and I’m well aware that Christ told us “So whatever you wish would do to you, do also to them” [Mt. 7:12a], but I think that this Golden Rule applies to personal relationships rather than to matters of state security; after all, the New Testament also tells us that “… he [the temporal ruler] does not wield the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” [Rom. 13:4] To see what else I’ve had to say on this subject, see UC’s #18 and 54.
22 December 2014
Were I a minister or secretary of defense, I would probably recommend that my state either destroy all its offensive airborne weaponry or sell it to a close ally, and re-allocate for aerial defenses (e.g., surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, and systems like Israel’s Iron Dome) all the resources previously devoted thereto; in fact, I would propose an international treaty to ban such ordnance. (Said treaty would not, sadly, be ratified by most Western powers, which like to pretend to take action against evil from time to time by launching “airstrikes”.)
18 December 2014
Do you recall that I wrote, on 20 November of this year, that “I had intended to post an entirely new uncommon commentary this week, but it’s not working out as I had hoped it would; …”? Well, now it has worked out.
Occasionally, one must endure listening to some version of the following cliché: “In America [sic], we would rather have 1000 guilty people [sic] go free than see a single innocent one convicted”. In addition to the lack of originality, there are at least two problems with this pronouncement. First, it’s almost certainly untrue. I’ve never heard of any opinion polls on the subject, but I doubt very much that the average person in this country would really favor a system of justice in which wrongful acquittals are 1000 times as common as wrongful convictions. Second, the statement implies that our justice system works so well in regard to the principle of “presumption of innocence” that persons who are not guilty of a crime are either never or almost never imprisoned or executed for that crime. Thanks to, however, such developments as the application of new technologies to old cases (e.g., genetic testing on rape victims and on their alleged rapists), we now know that wrongful conviction happens uncomfortably often.
I used to be disquieted by the lack of “presumption of innocence” in, for example, the French legal system; I imagined that, were one mistakenly charged in France with having committed a crime, the likelihood of being cleared of the charge was no greater than that of a flipped coin coming up heads instead of tails. “Presumption of innocence” made judicial systems that are culturally English or English in derivation, such as that of the USA, seem highly preferable. I was partly right; “presumption of innocence” may be preferable as a principle, but we must admit that it operates much better in theory than in practice. Having heard as many stories as I have about US citizens finally being exonerated of crimes for which they had spent years in prison, and of others escaping earthly penalties for crimes which they obviously did commit (and having learned, subsequent to the posting of my 20/11/2014 Best of Uncommon Commentary, that it is commonly known among legal professionals that “juries tend to ignore the law”), I no longer see any reason to conclude that US justice is better than the French version at protecting innocents and punishing wrongdoers. What this means is not that we must emulate the French approach to criminal justice, but only that we ought to concede that our own approach is overrated, and that we need to enact reforms; in UC #57 I suggested one such reform, which would be to abolish trial-by-jury. (This ought to be popular, since it would mean abolishing jury duty!)
12 December 2014
05 December 2014
The Democratic “National” Committee has, to quote a news story, “named a 10-person panel to examine the party’s struggles during the 2014 and 2010 elections and recommend solutions.” Appointing what has been described as a “task force” is unnecessary. The Democratic Party fared poorly in the past two midterm elections (as well as in those of 1994) because they occurred two years after a presidential election won by a Democrat whose leadership deficiencies harmed the USA, and that each set of midterm elections in question was a referendum on those deficiencies. (It is true that a Democrat also won the presidency in 1996, and that his doing so did not adversely affect his party’s fortunes in 1998; the initial dynamism of the Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, however, and President (Bill) Clinton’s lack of the same quality, clearly left the former instead of the latter setting the country’s agenda after 1994.) Of course, if Dumbocrats were astute enough to understand this, they wouldn’t be Dumbocrats, would they?
04 December 2014
I’ve again updated UC #219, which now lists the 75 clichés that I hate the most; don’t let the fact that I’ve made “Tea Party” the newest addition, though, give you a false impression of my ideological bent. I’m sympathetic to the movement of that inane name; it just irritates me that we’ve come to the point where anyone who supports a non-establishment Republican candidate for political office is dubbed “Tea Party”, regardless of whether he’s ever attended a rally against government overspending. (You may also want to see UC#130.)