Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Progressive Voter Guide...

Ran across this excellent site for Progressive Voters in Whatcom County:

The only  issue I disagreed with them on is their "straddle the fence" stand on HJR 4220. I am consistently against laws that would weaken fundamental rights guaranteed us either by the Bill of Rights or longstanding legal decisions.  Usually these attempts are motivated by fear; fear of crime, fear of communism, fear of terrorism, fear of skin color, fear of the opinions of others, fear of guns, etc.

But every step  we take to limit our rights puts us one step closer to Sparta rather than Athens. The death to a country's liberty and rights always comes in a series of small steps. It is always easy for our species to short-sightedly limit the rights of others we detest.  Justice William O. Douglass pointed out the flaw in such reasoning succinctly: "The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected."

The same law that denies a true murderer bail might be used to deny a political activist falsely accused (or framed) tomorrow.  This conflict is the freedom and burden we suffer with under our constitutional protections. It is why Thomas Jefferson once remarked,  "Postpone to the great object of Liberty every smaller motive and passion."
The Washington State ACLU provides for a clear rebuttal of the HJR 4220: 

"Bail is a fundamental protection of our legal system against incarceration of individuals who have been accused but not convicted of crimes. If there is evidence that an individual is dangerous, judges already can consider this in setting bail. Rather than hastily curtail everyone's right to the presumption of innocence in response to these tragedies, we should look for systemic changes that could actually prevent their recurrence." 

If you can't decide anything else on your ballot, don't let a last minute resolution slipped into our ballots with little notice and discussion weaken our fundamental rights as citizens in the state of Washington. 

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