Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coexistence Is Not in the Constitution

I am playing catch-up today after not having written a post since last Friday. There are quite a few stories awaiting a place in the Treats line-up.

Did you ever notice how many lawsuits these days result from the core sentiment that someone was wronged because they they were exercising their right to express themselves? It takes different forms, but ultimately, that is what so many actionable wrongs come down to. I want to say and /or do whatever I want and you need to step back and stay our of my way (or pay for it in many instances -- like the Virginia Vaginas angry girls or Democratic spokeswoman Sandra Fluke).

First case in point today along this line today comes to us from across the ocean and the sea, in Israel. Without going into a lot of detail about the politics of the region, let me just summarize an Israeli court's decision this week.

In 2003, 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie died while participating in a pro-Palestinian protest in the Gaza Strip. She was protesting against the Israeli government’s demolition of Palestinian houses. How did she die? Corrie was run over by a bulldozer during the protest when, as the court ruled, the driver did not see her. Her family has been trying to get a judgment against the driver and the military for 9 years now. Their lawsuit was rejected on Tuesday by an Israeli court.  

Now, regardless of which side of the millennia-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict you come down on, I am at a loss to understand why anyone in her right mind would inject herself into such a situation, much less get close enough to a freaking bulldozer as to be run over by it. Apparently, the judge was of the same mindset as I am. "Explaining the district court's ruling, Judge Oded Gershon said Corrie 'put herself in a dangerous situation' and called her death 'the result of an accident she brought upon herself.'"

There are numerous other cases where Americans inject themselves into foreign affairs and expect to be treated according to their misguided understanding of international law or human rights laws or even U.S. laws. I have no sympathy for these people, any more than I do for foreigners who come here to the U.S. and try to impose their version of the law onto our judicial system (e.g., sharia law).  

I frequently see these “coexist” bumper stickers that have religious symbols spelling out the word. When I actually see the drivers of the cars sporting such drivel, I just want to say "Get real." The countries and people of the world do not conform to the same Utopian ideals as the “make-love-not-war” beatnik holdovers from the 1960s and 70s. The world is a dangerous place. And we’d better wake up soon and realize that as a country or we will end up at the  mercy of stronger international powers that live by the sword rather than the peace sign.

Second case in point, following on that idea that there are people and whole countries that are not willing to coexist, we heard this week from the all but forgotten saga of murderer Nidal Hasan. Remember him? He is the Muslim Army major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in a mass shooting in 2009.

The story is that Major Hasan's case is on hold for now because he has grown a beard and refuses to shave it. What? A beard holding up criminal prosecution? That's right. Hasan claims that he is Muslim, and it is against his religion for him to shave. Forcing him to do so would violate his right to express himself in the way that his religious beliefs demand.
Some weeks ago, a military judge ordered Hasan to be forcibly shaved. This would have restored him to the code grooming standards that he sported prior to his murderous rampage three years ago.

Hasan appealed the judge's court order, and this week a military appellate court ruled that the appeal was premature since the judge had not actually officially ordered Hasan to be shaved according to military protocol, but had only issued it in a court order. The judge alluded to freedom of religion as being the potential bar to the prisoner being shaved.
The court on Monday also ordered [Judge] Gross, if he does order the forcible shaving of Hasan, to address whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to the court-martial and to spell out “why forcible shaving is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.”
So, Major Hasan, who was clean shaven for many years while he served in the Army, has suddenly decided -- after killing 13 and injuring many others -- that he is required by his faith to grow his beard, even though he is still in the Army.
I think the concept of legal waiver of rights should be invoked by the prosecution in this case. Hasan did NOT grow a beard for years in order to deceive people, and to not be recognized as a Muslim. Then, after he carries out his murderous plot against the very system of government that he abhors (make no mistake, this was a politically motivated attack that had 13 victims but was intended to destroy the country itself), he suddenly wants to hide behind the Constitution and Bill of Rights. When he chose to go clean shaven for years, which was the law of the military, he waived his right to cry foul against the law of the military. By trying to sport a beard while on trial, Hasan is trying to sever himself VISIBLY from the Army, thus making his religion seem to trump the Constitution. He must be held to outwardly reflect respect for the system to which he swore an oath.
This is one of those narrowly tailored instances when freedom of expression must be limited in order to further a compelling government interest -- maintaining law and order and protecting our citizens from maniacal murderers. He choose not to co-exist. He is an enemy combatant. Therefore, he does not deserve the protections of the Constitution.

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