We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.
William Shakespeare, Measure for measure, Act ii, scene i
Been reading a few stories about the Supreme court’s decision today to ban material support for terrorist activities. A good thing, a very good thing, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it goes further than that. But before I get into what It does wrong, let’s look at what the decision gets right.
Material support for terrorists is wrong.
Repeat after me. DUH!
Now that we have the “captain obvious” moment out of the way, it’s time to dig a hair deeper into the law here. In the Holder V. Humanitarian Law Project, the HLP was arguing(as I understand it, and putting it as simply as possible) that the “material support” legal prohibition interfered with both their rights of due process (the law itself is too vague, and due process cannot be given if the law is vague) and their first amendment free speech rights.
What the HLP wanted to do was to try to use its resources to get groups like the PKK, a Kurdish group out of the nation of Turkey, and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, to use legal resources to petition the U.N. for relief of their concerns, rather than have to resort to violence and terrorism. Giving them access to more peaceful ways in hopes of making things better within the framework of the law.
Now, where this goes bad for those of us who are lovers of freedom, is that by shooting this down, the court essentially makes illegal political advocacy for groups like the PKK and others within the United States, because some of their members may have been terrorists. I’m actually behind that particular bit, that is a good thing. Make it hard for the terrorists to get help. 100% spot on. But when it affects those who are peaceful, those who are non-combatants, and makes it equally difficult for them to advocate for the freedom of their people, which could well end completely any terrorist threat from that area, then the law goes too far.
Do you not want to offer those who work in the same places as terrorists a path away from terrorism, especially if the people offering that path are citizens of this nation? Circumvent the terrorists capacity to recruit by giving a way around the issues that face them that make them want to become terrorists in the first place?
I don’t know what the Court was thinking here. Organizations helping find a path to peaceful resolution to their conflicts find their activities in this vein illegal, according to this judgment. It seems the court thinks peaceful negotiations only exist to give time for terrorists to plan violence. Understandable only if you work from one basic premise:
The court is paranoid. and Chief Justice John Roberts is out of his mind.
I, and most sane humans applaud the fight against terrorism, but this ruling goes far beyond simply fighting terrorism, and makes a mockery of the concepts of freedom that are at the core of our national heritage and culture.
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.
Viddy of the day: Part one of a three part reading of the Constitution. Basic stuff everyone should know. Enjoy!
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