No Time for knee jerk legislation

             Does anyone remember the move by Congress to make it illegal to burn the American flag? The idea, while certainly patriotically backed, had all kinds of problems. Given the fact that we wear the flag on our clothes and have it pasted on paper all around us, just by cleaning up one could easily have broken the law. Well don’t look now, but that same line of knee jerk thinking is back at it again.

             Last week after the NYC failed bombing in Times Square, our diligent after the fact Congress decided that something has to be done about this new menace called the “home grown terrorist.” Despite the fact that he was caught in less time than it takes most to do their taxes, some of Congress believe that by resurrecting a law from the 1940’s they may have a new weapon against the war on terror. The same law that put the Japanese in internment camps will allow for the government to strip American citizenship from these home grown bad guys. Basically saying if the government thinks you’re a terrorist then you are not a citizen and you loose all rights of due process.

            According to Congress, Joe Lieberman included, citizenship is a privilege not a right. Hmm. If you are in agreement with that, perhaps you should sit down before you choke on your flag. Here we go folks: rights versus privileges. A driver’s license is a privilege. A license to practice law is a privilege. Citizenship however comes as a birthright. You can renounce it if you want, but to have it taken away because you happen to fall down an ideologue wormhole and loose your mind? No. You’re still an American.

            The bill, which is sponsored in part by Joe Lieberman, will in effect take away your citizenship once the government declares you a terrorist. You might be asking, well that’s after the trial and you get your due process, right? No. That’s after the government declares you a bad guy. But what about that tenant of citizenship; innocent until proven guilty or found guilty by a jury of your peers? No need for that. Peer trials are for ax murderers, embezzlers and less notoriously intended killers. Just like in Texas, where Ron White has said they have an express lane to the death chambers, we here in America are looking for an express lane to send you off to jail and throw away the key. After all, a trial is the last thing we need. What; next, DNA evidence inadmissible in a court of law?

            Apparently this bill has been in the drafting stages for quite sometime. Lieberman and some other members of Congress, including my own representative Jason Altmire and the newest member of the group, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, have all been working on this for a while now.

            Surprisingly the man who may put this bill into the active legislation process, Faisal Shahzad, would be exempt from anything the Congress comes up with. No retroactive powers in this bill. Hillary Clinton has also said she supports the ideas behind the bill as well. House Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner however both raised concerns over whether such a thing might be constitutional. Amazing how quickly one can loose all their rights in a country that is considered to be the freest country in the world. Just amazing!


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