Both liberals and conservatives share the belief that society needs a safety net that only a mighty, centralized state can provide. The only real difference is that liberals prefer a social safety net to provide free education, medical care, housing, food, and, increasingly, disposable income and leisure activities. Conservatives want a moral safety net, a government authority responsible for enforcing what they see as good behavior and condemning what they see as bad behavior.
This is because the National Defense Authorization Act, yet another bill to provide funds for war and nation-building, has been passed by both houses of Congress. Within this gem of a bill is buried language that mandates that anyone suspected of terrorism be handed over to the military for indefinite detention — and this specifically includes US citizens — at the discretion of the executive branch.
American student Amanda Knox was released from custody in Italy this week, where she has been held since 2007 on suspicion of the murder and sexual assault of her former roommate, Melissa Kercher. Knox was originally convicted, but that was overturned on appeal because of flawed and circumstantial evidence, shoddy detective work, and a coerced confession.
On a Sunday this September, street artist Mark Chase was arrested for “trespassing,” that is, for painting on his own canvasses on the sidewalk without a permit. What’s striking is not the story itself; citizens are routinely evicted from public property without justification every day. What’s striking is the dialogue between Chase and the thugs who arrested him:
“It is my constitutional right to be here without prior approval,” Chase said to the officer at one point.
“Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law,” the officer said.