Today I went to the John Dominic Crossan workshop at my church. For those of you who don't know Crossan, he's a renowned scholar of the Jesus Seminar, specializing in studying the historical Jesus. He says that in order to understand the Gospels, you have to understand the first century -- what was going on in the Roman Empire and in Palestine. For example, did you know that Augustus Caesar, Roman emperor, was proclaimed throughout his empire as son of God and savior of the world? Sounds familiar, right?
I won't try to explain all of Crossan's findings and theories but suffice it to say that it was a thought-provoking workshop and, in addition, we all had a good time. I feel lucky to be part of a church that has such good people who are always willing to stretch their minds.
Looking at these pictures you've perhaps noticed our beautiful cross and lecturn (pay no attention to the woman cat-napping behind the lecturn in one of the pics!). C. Pat McClelland, a member of our church, created them. He wrote an explanation of his design philosophy, which you can see at the back of our sanctuary or online here.
Tomorrow I have to do a presentation for my GER399 class (Business German). We had to create a fake company and design materials for it, and we have to talk to the class about it (auf deutsch nat?rlich). So I talked my partner into doing a web design company -- Spinne Web Gestaltung, GmbH (the name is Elicia's idea). You can see the site we created. It's all fake except that I really did develop a back-end system for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and really did do some online German vocabulary drills.|
| I haven't been very political on this web site -- no special sections about gay rights, abortion, death penalty, war on Iraq, etc. Okay, there was that somewhat sarcastic entry about Homeland Security instructions. But today I feel compelled to bring up the issue of special rights.
If you're gay or gay-friendly you probably remember people in Colorado or Cincinnati clamoring against "special rights." They meant that gay people shouldn't have special protections under the law. Well it turns out that as an American citizen I do have some special rights, namely the rights of habeas corpus and trial by jury. There was an uproar about this a while back when the Bush administration announced it would not be prosecuting terrorist suspects under normal procedures but rather as military combatants in special secret military tribunals. That uproar pretty much died down as we focused on war in Iraq. Meanwhile Tuesday an appeals court in Washington upheld lower court rulings that foreigners held in foreign territory have no right under the US constitution and "cannot invoke the jurisdiction of our courts to test [...] the legality of restraints on their liberty."
It'd make sense that foreigners held by foreigners in a foreign land wouldn't be subject to American courts' jurisdiction. But what about foreigners held by Americans? Especially on American territory? The appeals court was ruling on a case involving people held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, conveniently labeled foreign soil when it comes to the rights of people held there but actually a place under American control that the military would never think of ceding back to Castro. So just who are these prisoners supposed to appeal to? Cuban courts?
Even more disturbing to me is the idea that rights outlined in our Constitution now apply only to certain people, not all people. Our country was founded on the idea that "all men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights." That doesn't mean that American citizens are to be allowed certain rights not allowed to non-citizens. All human beings, American citizens or not, are to be equal, according to our very own Declaration of Independence, and should have the same rights.
Thomas Jefferson certainly included the right of habeas corpus and the right to a trial by jury as among the most basic of rights. He wrote in 1798 that "the Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume." Even in times of war, he considered it too important to suspend, writing in 1788, "why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? The parties who may be arrested may be charged instantly with a well defined crime." And in 1789 he wrote that he "consider[s] [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." (For these quotes and more, see Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government.)
I'm not saying that people suspected of terrorist acts should be set free. I'm saying that if we allow our government to hold some people secretly and indefinitely without being charged of a crime and without a public trial by jury, it's not a very big step before we ourselves are in danger of that same treatment. Yes, one could argue that terrorism is a form of war, but it's not a declared war with clearly identifiable soldiers. If those in charge get to define the terms, what's to keep them from defining political opponents as terrorists and suspending their rights?
My last final of the quarter was this morning so this afternoon I've had time to go blog hopping and read up on the war in Iraq and other stuff. I wonder if anyone's tried the Kevin Bacon game with blogs. Every blog would be only 8 links away from Kevin Bacon's blog.
At any rate, here are some blogs I visited today:
Back to Iraq 2.0: Christopher Allbritton's PayPal-supported independent journalism site
A Day in the Life: featuring a new photo every day, a new location every week
Path of the Paddle: featuring a Canadian perspective on the world
Civax Personal Page: Ohad Barzilay's view from Jerusalem
Circular Logic: not quite sure what to make of this one
Oates for Tanger: a place with some good photos and comments by Alan Cowderoy, living in Strasbourg, France
Letter from Gotham: A site by Diane
Hunkabutta: A stranger's life in pictures, in Tokyo
Al-Muhajabah's Islamic Pages: A page by an American female Muslim who wears the nigab
and the one that got me started this afternoon, which I found because it was posted on the Wright State faculty listserv:
Where is Raed?: a blog by Salam Pax, an Iraqi living in Baghdad
|Tonight was another dinner for my dinner group from church, this time at Paul and John's (last time was at Juli and Amy's). They just moved into a new house in Kettering. If you've been paying attention, you've noticed how big Gideon is getting.|| |