Thorny Issues

RumsfeldTwo news items worthy of comment. First is the decision of the Rumsfeld War Department to finally “investigate” comments made by General William Boykin. I find it amusing that Rummy’s trying to spin the thing by claiming that Boykin himself is the one who requested the investigation — which everyone knows is a crock of shit. They just didn’t want to do anything until the pressure got too big to ignore; the blowback over Bush’s chastizing of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for his anti-Semitic remarks took care of that. The underlying issue itself isn’t quite so black-and-white, though.

For the record: Boykin is a nut job who has no business being in charge of “investigating” anything. And yes, I am ridiculing his beliefs; not his Christianity (although that fundamentalist part is tempting), but his belief in the absolute supremacy of that faith. No apologies. But here’s the rub: He’s got an absolute right to express his beliefs, however wacky they may be. Should he be removed from his position? Hmm... that’s a little tougher. As a military officer — and a representative of the executive branch of the U.S. government — his rights to expression free of consequence are more limited, particularly since he made the speeches in question in uniform. In a sense, his big crime is saying what Bush and his goons all believe, but are smart enough to shut up about. (Bush, smart? Who’d have thought I’d ever say that?)

In the end, I really hope they don’t remove him from his position — if only because it’ll serve to show all the S.P. who keep supporting little George what he really represents. And in the meantime, I’ll keep countering Boykin and his ilk in what may be the most effective way out there: Nonstop ridicule.

The other hot-button issue today is the decision by crooked-as-a-three-dollar-bill Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature to override a court order removing a feeding tube from a woman in a thirteen-year vegetative state. This one I’m similarly conflicted about — I’d argue that the woman should be allowed to die, but the method does have barbaric death-by-starvation overtones. Then again, by outlawing any other method of humane euthanasia, what alternative is there? I do think the legislature overstepped its bounds legally, but the courts should be able to deal with that soon enough.

But my favorite line in this whole drama came from Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who clearly didn’t think before speaking: “Every life is precious... We’re talking about a human life; there’s no second chance. There’s no do-over if we make a mistake.” Um, hello, you’re a conservative Republican — in Florida, no less. You’re all too happy to ignore that argument when it’s a death-penalty debate, but suddenly now you’re concerned about making a mistake? I’ll be all too happy to throw that quote back in your face the next time it comes up, buddy. Thanks for the ammunition.


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