Sunday, October 29, 2006

The blessings...

So, how are you feeling today?

You feeling hungry? Maybe something in your refrigerator would be tasty. If not, maybe the cupboard. Heck, if that doesn't work, maybe the store. Is it too far to walk? Well, maybe you can take your car, or ride a bike, or catch a bus.

Maybe along the way, you'll see someone, some cute member of the appropriate sex, and chat that person up, and maybe flirt a little. Are you attached? Do you have someone you love and who loves you, do you have no space in your life for a new romantic partner? You can still smile, and play, and bring that energy home, and fantasize a bit about what it might have been like. But if you're available, maybe you could hope to hit it off, and exchange phone numbers (e-mail addresses, IM identities, etc..).

Or maybe you got tongue tied, and couldn't say anything. You can still dream, and fantasize of another world where you were smooth, and funny, and made this new person happy, and you went on to have wonderful times (and hot, happy sex). If your fantasies have made you horny, don't be ashamed, just slip into a private room for a few minutes, and revel in the pleasure of such dreams.

Maybe you're not hungry; maybe you're just a bit antsy, and want to go for a walk. Get up, get whatever clothing on you need, go out there, and walk, and feel how good the fresh air feels all around you, and think about how gloriously free you feel. Your body is made to move; once you get into a good rhythm, you'll feel good moving.

Or maybe... maybe you want to call up some friends and watch the Big Game, or go to a movie, or maybe just have a couple of beers and hang out.

Maybe you heard your favorite musician has a new album out, and you and your friend will head out to the music store; you think the Beatles were the epitome of genius, while your friend is a Bruce Springteen worshipper, and every now and then, one of you riffs on Billy Joel, just because it's fun to argue about the big names out there.

How's your job? If it's good, smile and think about how lucky you are, with so many people stuck in dead-end jobs. If it's bad, well, maybe you can think about how to make it better. Can you study? Hit the library and pick up some books! Or maybe you've just been lazy, and if you buckled down a bit, you could win a raise, or maybe even a promotion. Maybe if you start exercising a bit, the extra energy you'll have, and the discipline of regular exercise, will help you perform better at work. Or... come on, let's admit it. Maybe right now, you like being lazy, and just getting by at your job. Maybe you like feeling that you're pulling your weight, and pulling down a fair paycheck, and right now, that's enough. Maybe you'll make it your New Year's resolution to buckle down an work harder and get some more responsibility and more money.

How's your relationship status? Are you in love? Wonderful! Are things going well? Well, if not, you can try to work on it, can't you? You can talk things out, you can think about what's changed, you can decide to maybe take a break from each other, and see what else is out there.

You're hungry now? Maybe you could fix yourself a steak, a nice, juicy steak, but maybe... maybe what you really want is a peanut butter sandwich. With strawberry jam. You can have one. It's no problem. In fact, you can have two. You can have one now, and have one at 1:30 tomorrow morning.

You sitting comfortably there? Maybe you need another chair? I'm sure you have a couple different chairs you can choose from, and maybe you have a pillow or cushion you could select to get some extra padding if you need it. Isn't that nice?

If your life is good, that's wonderful, but even if it's not, the wonderful thing about the life you have is that you have freedom. You can try to change things, and if you don't know how to change things, you can try to learn to change things. You have freedom.

Which means you're immeasurably better off than the people that President Bush and the Republican Congress have said the US is allowed to imprison, without having to do so much as show cause to hold them.

Remember that: we're not talking about a criminal trial, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We're talking basic habeas corpus, showing a reasonable cause to detain a person to a neutral judge. If you can't show that cause, you let the person go, because freedom is just too precious.

The person is a terrorist? Well, if we know that, we have cause, don't we? Even if we don't have proof, we have enough evidence to justify the suspicion, and a judge will let us hold that person.

The person is a member of the Taliban? Again, if we know that, we have cause, and can show it to a judge.

The person has been engaged in hostilitie against the us? If we know that, we have cause, and can show it to a judge.

What if the person was just handed over to us, because we were offering a bounty for every terrorist and Taliban member? Shouldn't we let that person go? What if the person looked suspicious, but when we checked things out, it turned out there wasn't any real basis for the suspicion? Shouldn't we let that person go? What if it was mistaken identity, or a person pulled up in a sweep, some poor schmoe in the wrong place at the wrong time? Shouldn't we let that person go?

I mean think about it. People have been asking why these prisoners "deserve" rights, but the real question is, what grounds do we have to remove all the millions of benefits that come from being free?

They eat what they're told to eat, unless the military is feeling awfully generous; they can't decide what to eat, or when to eat it, and can't just pop off to the store for something else.

They're not going to meet any cute members of the appropriate sex; if they do, they won't be able to smile, and flirt, and dream about what might be; they're prisoners, and nothing's going to happen. They can't slip into a private area with a goofy grin on their face for a quick, dreamy bit of masturbation; they aren't given any privacy, for fear of plotting or suicide attempts. They can't just get up and go for a walk, and feel how good the fresh air and exercise feels. They can't decide to watch the Big Game, or go out to a movie, or buy the latest CD of their favorite artist.

They haven't got jobs, they can't hope for advancement, and they're seeing years, years that they could be using to build up their lives, slipping away, day by day. They can't try to fix their relationships, or decide to break them off, and look for new ones, and if they have families, they can worry about whether their families will still recognize them. They can't even get up and decide they'd like a lousy peanut butter sandwich, with strawberry jam... they can ask the guard, and who knows, maybe the guard's in a good mood, but even a tiny thing like that is out of their hands.

They have no choices, they have no freedom, and they are kept in misery.

And President Bush and the Republican Congress have said that's okay. They're satisfied with that.

Bush and the Republican Congress decided that America, founded on the nation that every single person on the face of the planet has the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, should make it legal to hold these people, and deprive them of all the blessings of liberty, without even having to show that there's a good reason to do so.

And it must be okay, they reason, because the American people still support them. Right?

It's long past time for America to show them that they're wrong.

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