Even Smart People Can Be Dumb Sometimes

I’m always curious how a nation can pretend to be a “democracy” when it arbitrarily designates whole segments of its population as ineligible to participate. And today, the Post is finally drawing attention to that little dilemma. On the surface, it’s easy to see how the notion of barring convicted felons from voting could sound sensible — after all, why should we allow “crooks” to vote? But our nation’s draconian drug laws (among other acts against victimless “offenders”) have legislatively made whole groups of people — primarily poor people — into criminals, even though they’ve done no harm to anyone. But hey, they’re mostly black, so that works for the white establishment, right? After all, nobody’s really doing anything to enforce drug laws against rich people’s drugs of choice. (Refresh my memory — how much time has Rush Limbaugh spent in prison?) Not to mention the idea that barring felons from the polls gives irredeemable criminals like Katherine Harris a convenient excuse to rig a presidential election.

Think about it: When you not only lock up those most likely to disagree with the views of the “establishment,” but then compound that by denying them a voice in changing the ridiculous laws that imprisoned them in the first place, then you’ve ceased to be a representative system. This doesn’t apply just to drug laws, but any number of other prisoner-rights issues as well. Who gives a crap about the rights of prisoners (or ex-prisoners) when the convicts themselves can’t complain about it in any effective manner? And yes, I do have first-hand (well, second-hand, to be perfectly accurate) knowledge of such abuses going unchecked. But even if I didn’t, you can’t remain blind to the excesses of the “get tough on crime” mentality in this nation. And while the GOP is certainly more inclined to enact legislation eroding prisoners’ rights (along with everyone else’s rights), this isn’t strictly a partisan issue; Democrats are just as complicit. Politicians of all stripes are too often willing to play the “crime” card once election time rolls around.

I’ll stop short of advocating that current prisoners be given the right to vote (though technically, the same argument could apply to them as well). But as for restoring voting rights to those who have paid their debt to society? I’d call that an absolute necessity.

Of course, I’m perfectly willing to berate the Post when it screws up, and in this case — on the same page, no less — they’ve given me a doozy. Today’s top editorial is sheer lunacy. The editorial staff would have us believe that there’s something “irresponsible” about drawing attention to the fact that the September 11 commission has determined that there was no collaborative link between al Qaeda and Iraq. Apparently we should just ignore the dramatic significance of an official (if interim) report proving that our unelected leaders lied to the American people — and are still lying, as recently as this week. Screw reality, we’ve got our story and we’re sticking to it, come hell or high water. If there’s a discrepancy between our account and observable reality, it must be reality that’s got it wrong. Oh, sure, politicians lie, every last one of ’em — I’m not so naive as to believe otherwise. But those lies don’t usually lead directly to the deaths of thousands of people (between 9,436 and 11,317 civilians at last count, not to mention 837 American miltary casualties). Sorry, Post, but I’m going to continue to let the accusations fly.

If anything, I’ll bring John Kerry to task for studiously avoiding the one word that most effectively describes the administration: “Liars.”


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