Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Just wanted to talk briefly about principles and how I think they are lacking in much of our society. This is not necessarily an overt religious article, but our religion informs our morality, so in that sense it is.

I find all too often, people sacrifice principles because a subjectively "good" end has been achieved. One such example is from the US, where Obama ordered the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen living in Yemen. Many people believe he was an evil person bent on the destruction of the United States, and I'm not here to argue whether or not he was.

The problem with the scenario, is that as an American citizen, Al-Awlaki is entitled to a trial before he is executed, regardless of where he is located in the world. Obama chose to ignore this and decided this man was better off dead.

What I'm talking about is principles. Many people rejoice at the death of a terrorist, and I'm not here to talk about that. I'm not a pacifist and believe countries have a right to defend themselves, but I find people are far too comfortable with saying that what happened was legally wrong, but oh well, we killed a bad guy so there's nothing wrong with that.

But this violates the entire purpose of due process and the law in the first place. The legal system was established not to treat our friends properly, but to uphold the rights of our worst enemies. Once we start ignoring the law and arbitrarily deciding who is protected by it or not, then it ceases to be a "law", and becomes more of a whim.

This man was not convicted, he was only suspected. That's why countries like Canada and the US have court systems. Even Jeffrey Dahmer, or Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka received a trial and were sentenced according to the law. No one would argue that these are good upstanding citizens. Indeed, most believe they are evil and reprehensible. Yet even for these individuals, there is a trial in an official court of law.

I'm sure not too many people would shed many tears if Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered after what he did, but does that give the government the right to assassinate him in the absence of real evidence in a court of law?

Once we go to this point, we start using vigilante justice, and the whole legal system is in jeopardy.

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