The rule of law in the United States has suffered under four presidential terms. We will have had sixteen years of our lives when our leaders have believed in the preeminence of the State over the individual, freedom and life itself. All in the name of preserving the State and our supposed safety.
Our presidents' view of our citizens' rights under the rule of law should come as no surprise. Even the beginning of life remains an experiment under our own peculiar view of the rule of law. Many humans have no right to life at all, even if they would survive in the real world according to this view.
Experimentation with humans and their lives is also a part of our rule of law. This strain of the rule of law runs much farther back in time. To a time when any baby inside the mother was a person and abortion was illegal. To a time when experiments occurred in Alabama on black men injected with syphilis.
Simple answers prevail today when we consider rights to life under our modified, "modern" rule of law.
- The president can kill citizens anywhere without due process afforded to the individual.
- War, the right to kill in great numbers, is whatever we define it to be, including a fight against a group of individuals rather than nations. Believe in a certain way and you will be killed.
- Babies are "things" until they come from the womb, or even after they can emerge alive.
- A woman has a right to control her own body.
The latest incarnations in the news arising from these views are as appalling as they are usually dispatched without much consideration.
- A doctor of death in Pennsylvania is largely unworthy of review or comment by most of the press. After all, most abortion clinics kill babies with regularity and in astounding numbers. Since the decision in Roe v. Wade, more than 55 million abortions have occurred. But what is much more telling is that in developed countries such as the US, the abortion ratio is about 44 abortions for every 100 births.
- President Obama kills US citizens without due process of law and certainly outside the parameters of all previously known applications of the rule of law.
- Our government and 22 institutions of higher learning experiment on premature babies, killing them and blinding them, all apparently within the rule of law.
- Melissa Harris-Perry apparently believes that any abortion should be a woman's decision entirely separate from the rule of law.
What does this mean to us?
A World Upside Down
The rule of law is under attack by our president, our government, and some in our media. Strangely, life itself and the extent of our human rights have become the domain of people characterized as "far right." Rand Paul rails against drone killings of Americans without trial, suddenly making the Right the Left. Where is the Left?
The Left worries about how to prop up Harris-Perry against those who dare question the position of the State in our lives. The Left is concerned about how to make abortion the civil right of every woman, irrespective of what this means. Keep the impact of abortion from our public. This is just about the women, as Harris-Perry claims.
The facts from the Pennsylvania abortion trial Kirsten Powers wrote about appear to be unimportant and trivial to Harris-Perry.
It's not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell's former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.
Yet, perhaps the most scary situation in our daily lives comes not from the horrors of murder in a doctor's office which the State clearly opposes but from the experimentation on premature babies whose parents were misinformed by 22 institutions of "higher" learning about the dangers of the experiment itself which the State actually promotes, fosters and protects. The New York Times broke the story in its paper yesterday with little fanfare and apparently little research.
A federal agency has found that a number of prestigious universities failed to tell more than a thousand families in a government-financed study of oxygen levels for extremely premature babies that the risks could include increased chances of blindness or death.
What is left unsaid is anything close to the entire story or the many sordid details, certainly worthy of a movie if not a book, of how it could be that premature babies became experiments, much less how it would be that the facts that oxygen deprivation or addition could cause blindness and death would not be discussed at all.
But the media dealt with the story as just some more dross like the abortion trial in Pennsylvania. Events involving an armed man an Atlanta suburb are treated as so much more important by our media. The Obama Administration's and its predecessors' failure to fix a research system whose very underpinnings should be questioned are hardly newsworthy.
Numerous themes that run through this short but most important story.
- Is it proper to perform research on children who cannot comprehend the risks involved even if properly articulated to parents and others who are properly and fully informed?
- How could issues like death and blindness have escaped mention to the parents involved?
- Do we as a society even want to conduct experiments on children?
- Are children owned or controlled by the State if the State regulates how they can be experimented upon?
Coming at a particularly sensitive time in considering whether and to what extent the State should be involved in our children's lives, including questions focusing on child safety at our schools and the role of teachers like Harris-Perry in our society, one would have been certain that these points would be neatly tied up into a significant package by the editorial department of one of our formerly great newspapers, or by some group like 60 Minutes or some journalist seeing what is becoming a significant story buried beneath Obama's election.
Coming on the heels of the death of Margret Thatcher, resurrecting memories of the new Britain and Ronald Reagan, we should realize that government is not only essential in protecting our children but is also a very a dangerous player indeed in any human endeavor, especially when our own humanity is concerned.
The twin polarities of protection and harm and death find themselves represented in this research program.
Today's erosion of rights, begun by the Right but much more sharp and exacting when practiced by the Left, has left us in an ever-expanding universe of what used to be human rights violations that are now seen merely as extensions of the State, individual rights or some amalgam of both, at least when "public safety" is involved.
Is it not just a small step from experiments on humans to the State as supreme determiner of both what is human and who can be experimented upon?
Like Mengele and unregulated drugs, like "fluoroscopes" and cancer on our feet, like excessive x-rays, improperly calibrated machines, and injections of quantities of lethal drugs into our systems in the name of potential life, we see none of the suffering but only the promise of results. Only the misstatements about life not being involved, and control over women's bodies.
Even when Harris-Perry's position is actually illegal, as currently played out in a Pennsylvania courtroom. You cannot treat a human being as a "thing" when it is beyond six months old, even inside a woman's body. And the lack of feeling for the "thing" reminds us how close we are to immorality. Who decides about the third trimester? The woman under Harris-Perry's view of the rule of law. No one else.
It is at the top, in the macro sense of the news and our society, including HHS together with all of its other progenitors of the State as protector of children, killer of those not defined as children, and protector of the innocent and uneducated, that we should begin when we discuss our citizens' lives, including the lives of our children and fetuses.
HHS, The Office for Human Research Protections, Harris-Perry and the State
The State is intimately involved in all of our lives. In every contested divorce, the fact remains that the state may decide for the parents where the children should go. The state, city and county organizations are all devoted to preventing child abuse. The first responders are involved, particularly the police, in helping protect everyone in the family and in our society against each other.
Our most massive agency devoted to human lives is the US Department of Health and Human Services. How does HHS describe its mission?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
There is actually an Office for Human Research Protections ("HRPro") in our federal government. HRPro is a pretty fascinating abutment to our agency designed to protect the health of all Americans. HRPro is supposedly a barrier of protection for people who are least able to help themselves.
The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) provides leadership in the protection of the rights, welfare, and wellbeing of subjects involved in research conducted or supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). OHRP helps ensure this by providing clarification and guidance, developing educational programs and materials, maintaining regulatory oversight, and providing advice on ethical and regulatory issues in biomedical and social-behavioral research.
In truth, HRPro puts the State before the individual. It allows experiments on living people even children as long as the parent or custodian is fully informed according to its standards. Just as HHS policy promulgates abortion and our highest court's pronouncements allow the killing of our citizens before birth and without forewarning in their first and second trimesters of life, those "things," as MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry called fetuses on Easter.
HARRIS-PERRY: So my only worry about that, is because I feel like a lot, I mean, having an 11-year-old, I do a lot of kids reading that sort of thing. But I feel like we do that, but it`s always about private morality, right? It feels sort of like to the extent that we talk about morality in the public sphere, we talk about private morality, who you should and shouldn't sleep with, how you should or should not dispose of things in your uterus. I mean, you know, this is -- this is what we think of as morality, right? But we don`t talk about public morality, what it means.
Surely our children, once born, do have the right to say "no" to experimentation and are protected from death. Even Harris-Perry's concept of the State's role in our children's lives must consider this to be protected by the State. Or does it? Is she an advocate of experiments when approved by the State?
The State is heavily involved in determining who our children should live with, including at times not even parents, whether they should be given medical treatment, and as we have seen in the latest manifestation of government ownership and control of our children, what sort of human experiments can be conducted on them.
Harris-Perry, who works in the devoutly far left Rachel Maddow branch of MSNBC, believes in what we have already wrought through HHS. A thoroughly maternal organization whose duty is to protect our citizens, especially those who are least able to protect themselves.
So it is that Harris-Perry's world view is worth considering in the context of the latest revelation of just how seriously we take protecting our children as a society. Here is her "double down" on her view of the second prong of her children dichotomy between the "thing" in her womb and the born child, one might presume.
What I thought was an uncontroversial comment on my desire for Americans to see children as everyone’s responsibility has created a bit of a tempest in the right’s teapot. Allow me to double down. One thing is for sure: I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities. When the flood of vitriolic responses to the ad began, my first reaction was relief. I had spent the entire day grading papers and was relieved that since these children were not my responsibility, I could simply mail the students’ papers to their moms and dads to grade! But of course, that is a ridiculous notion. As a teacher, I have unique responsibilities to the students in my classroom at Tulane University, and I embrace those responsibilities. It is why I love my job.
What does she mean?
Is the power of the State the same as her power as a teacher? Does her comment have any logic at all? Are university students children? Most are not, according to the very State that Harris-Perry so carefully protects and wants protected. So why does Harris-Perry confuse this point?
Because it is not children who are involved here. It is all of us. Our children and us. We all deserve "protection" that the State determines is required? Not from death if the State says we are terrorists. Not from death if the State says we are "things" rather than people.
But whenever the State tells us who we are and what we can do. According to Harris-Perry, our children are part of the community and the community takes care of our children. I seriously doubt if Harris-Perry even knows what she is saying. But if she does, what is it that she believes?
It is particularly interesting to review the commentary in The New York Times regarding black intellectuals. Does the following description fit Harris-Perry, ironically written by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies in the department of religion at Princeton University and the chairman of the Center for African-American Studies, the university Harris-Perry left apparently because she did not make full professor?
All too often what stands in for the black intellectual these days are folks who can spin a phrase and offer a soundbite. The idea of the intellectual who reads widely and deeply and who critically engages the complexity of our times has been supplanted by the fast-talking “black Ph.D. pundit” who strives to be on CNN, Fox or MSNBC. This same pundit has found new career opportunities within universities and colleges by thinking about black people in ways that conform to the current liberal consensus about racial matters.
Perhaps not. But her position appears to be that a patchwork of responsibility exists for every child and that every child deserves "the care" of those communities. What is missing is what exactly that "care" happens to be. And if her thinking represents the new black intellectual, then we must ask, would she support HRPro's regulation or find it lacking? For that matter, what exactly is "intellectual" about her position anyway?
My bet is that Glaude was speaking about Harris-Perry whose soundbites are far more "important" than any critical thinking. If she were concerned about doing more than conforming with current liberal consensus, and in fact had a reality other than the multimillionaire environment in which she lives, she might be more interested in the race of the premature babies involved in the premature baby experiments, the lack of care of blacks in abortion clinics, the horrors of life in our inner cities instead of making controversial statements about the State having no right to be involved in abortion at all, even in the third trimester of a pregnancy.
In short, to Harris-Perry, it seems that the rule of law can be dispatched with ease, solely based on the categories of person(s) involved. A man? Too bad. Women decide the fate of their children. A child viable outside the womb? Too bad. The woman decides.
Law has no place in this Harris-Perry world. Yet somehow, Harris-Perry does have a role in grading papers. Incredible.
The State, The International Rule of Law and Justice Breyer
In the middle, protecting us and our children from the State, stand our courts. And at the very pinnacle of our courts is the US Supreme Court. Harris-Perry was able to jettison life, fetuses, men, women, and the rule of law with ease. The US Supreme Court, thankfully, has much more difficulty in doing this. In fact, the Supreme Court is facing a growing number of difficult decisions regarding the place of our government in our society, including continuing questions about abortion and the right of the State to deny freedom and liberty without trial.
Although the rule of law has suffered a beating in President Obama's hands, our federal courts will not kowtow to presidents or anyone else, whatever her or his mandate and however she or he characterizes a court decision. Thus, while President Obama raised the issue of whether he would abide by a court decision during his last term, he responded through his Attorney General that he would comply when his public suggestion that he would not follow the court decision was challenged by the court.
On such a slender reed do our freedoms rest.
The decisions of our Supreme Court justices are final, and can be changed only by the Supreme Court itself. Roe v. Wade. Marbury v. Madison. Plessy v. Ferguson, finally changed by Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.
Whether Harris-Perry likes it or not, the US Supreme Court will not find abortion to be outside of the law. The Supreme Court will not make life itself a decision just for woman.
Among the biggest legal issues for conservatives in recent years has been whether and to what degree the US should pay any attention to international and foreign laws so that the State is considered and affected by the rest of the world. The view by most conservatives is that only the United States matters. A by-product of this aversion to foreign law has been the criticism of judicial decisions in which foreign law has been cited.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who has spent the "spare" time he has had in his nearly twenty years on the US Supreme Court learning French, disagrees with these views. In fact, he embraces others' views of the rule of law.
On Monday, following in the footsteps of the far more historically important Thomas Jefferson, Justice Breyer became one of the foreign members of France’s Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. The fact that he was replacing Otto von Habsburgh, called among others the last Emperor, whose life was largely devoted to making a pan-European union, who was a staunch anti-Nazi and anti-Communist, is perhaps as much a strange pairing as it is a vision of what was important when he was inducted and what is important now. Especially important.
For it is Justice Breyer, as close to royalty as we have, whose opinions will continue to develop the rule of law not only for the United States but also for the world itself. And Breyer says that he will use foreign precedents in examining and determining the conflict between the government and the rights of the individual. Thus, after focusing on the wonders of the man whose 98 years spanned every major war the world waged in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, Justice Breyer provided his audience with a reminder of just how important the US Supreme Court's role is and will be as it decides more cases about our basic freedoms than any other court in history.
He described the changing nature of the cases coming before the Supreme Court, noting that more of them these days center on “the conflict between national security and the protection of the fundamental rights of the individual.” And more of them, he said, had implications beyond national borders, both in the commercial realm and in the rights of citizens. This year alone, he said, he counted seven such cases on an overall list of 80, “but 20 years ago, I would have counted only one or two.”
The importance of the cases coming before the Court is far greater than at any time in history. And Breyer feels that we need to take into account the world view of liberty and justice: “We live in a world where [knowledge of the law and judicial practices of other countries] is no longer a luxury but a daily necessity,"’ he said. “Our effort to maintain the rule of law demands it.”
United States No Longer a Beacon of Freedom and Justice
Sadly, Breyer's view may be an admission by a scholar from our most revered institution that we can no longer look upon the US as the world's standard carrier of freedom and justice. It also represents an incredible danger to our world, since it is an admission that views of others whose structure and morality is not our own can influence our decisions and result in diminishing our freedoms and rights.
The "world view" has already truncated our freedoms. We trample on rights because we cannot call violations of law immoral when they may save lives. We preclude the mounting of any defense despite the fact that people are not even heard much less allowed to defend themselves on the charges by either killing them without trial or by imprisoning them without public voice for their entire lives.
All in the name of "terrorism."
We no longer believe that our courts can be trusted with our national security. We are no longer staunch defenders of a man's or woman's freedom to act and speak if that speech is against the State.
We are imprisoned in a world of ever-diminishing rights, focused as we are on what a few believe are the important concepts for our country in place of what used to be immutable truths. The prison protecting us became more concrete as we went to war on terror, on the right of the State to protect us and define those protections.
When Justice Breyer indicates we need to look outside to ensure that rights are preserved, we are exposed for what we have become. We have lost the respect of other nations because of our war on terrorism. We are no longer a beacon of freedom. No longer the main source of justice.
Just people interested in preserving themselves while ridding themselves of "things" that could be people but are defined to be non-human, or are treated as things even if they are human.
Like Human Experiments, Humans At Guantanamo Show How Badly We Have Lost Our Humanity and Rule of Law
In the end, our experiments on premature babies, the deaths of babies themselves due to experimentation, and so many other horrors engendered by our definition of who is human and how we can treat the most vulnerable in our country pale in some ways when we realize that a death not by execution but by imprisonment without charges is the result of our new rule of law that treats the determination of the safety of our citizens to be above the standard of law and justice that has been the lynchpin of our society and personal freedom since our country's birth. No one should be held without charges much less without trial. Yet, we have done this for more than a decade with the approval of many of our most revered institutions, as if the eventual sentence of death without charges or trial is somehow legal under our system of laws.
We manage to avoid the concept of who these people are by treating them as less than human, and conveniently allow ourselves to consider all of these humans guilty before the State needs to prove anything to anyone. Our courts stand between humans and their government, but not for those at Guantanamo.
Here is how one prisoner reported the conditions he faces in Guantanamo Bay. His horror is ours. His treatment is our own loss of humanity. His treatment is how far our rule of law has fallen from its perch at the pinnacle of humanity.
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.