I’m finally catching up on old Daily Shows and Colbert Reports that I’ve had in my DVR now for a while. They’ve had some great coverage of the Zimmerman trial. I find the most fascinating part was Zimmerman’s brother complaining that now George has to be afraid of vigilantes for the rest of his life. Is context and irony lost on this family? Yeah, cry me a river.
The Daily Show backs up my assertion that Florida is taking the lead in stupid laws. Like I said before, the jury basically doesn’t have a choice. According to Florida law Zimmerman was within his rights. You can shoot anyone who scares you. I’ve never been selected for jury duty. Now that I have Crohn’s, I can always play the legitimate “this jury box will be my own personal bathroom” defense, but before that I would have made it known I retained my right to vote my conscience, which is perfectly legal, though frowned upon. A real jury though has to keep it to the facts and go by the law. And if you vote your conscience without warning them you’ll do it upfront during the selection process you’re in deep shit.
I’m glad to hear Obama is calling for an evaluation of Stand Your Ground. Unfortunately, that will no doubt create a tsunami of “Joseph Karl Hitlerbama is trying to take away states rights!” again. Why is it when people talk about states rights it’s always synonymous with white male Christian rights? Arizona’s right to deport people on the suspicion that they might be Mexican based on their tan. Mississippi’s right to round up all their migrant workers and let their crops rot on the ground. Florida’s right to shoot anyone anywhere anytime. Virginia’s right to declare Christianity the only legally sanctioned form of worship. Texas’ right to tell women what they can do with their bodies. Oklahoma’s constant fight against non-existent Sharia Law.
It seems to be a common thread of thought among the Tea Party and other libertarian conservatives that the federal government can’t be trusted and states rights represent a last bastion of freedom. I agree with the statement that the federal government can’t be trusted, but why are the states trustworthy? Local, county and state governments are usually more incompetent and corrupt than the feds, which is saying a lot I know.
California’s direct democracy is a great idea, marred only by the glaring flaw that people won’t vote to raise their own taxes. Every state has some really stupid ideas. Tennessee and its health care lottery. They have a sweepstakes to find out whether you get to live or not. A while back I talked about the dissolution of the Voting Rights Act. Another great example of the trust we can put in our state governments. Bobby Jindal wants to slash and burn his state’s economy and then salt the earth so nothing grows again. You can find my snarky comments on that debacle through the link.
State law is supposed to be a check and balance on federal power. The problem I find with our system is that all our checks and balances seem to be between one shady group of oligarchs versus another. With feds and states, they don’t quite run counter to one another so much as parallel. The only check and balance we should need is the populace. It seems like every governing structure is built to separate the voters from actual power. Now part of this is that when the constitution was created and for much of our early history the logistics were impossible. Voters were completely uneducated and communication was slow and unreliable. Hence they created things like the electoral college and representative rather than direct democracy.
However, even in modern history there have been times when having the government run against the populace has helped. Civil rights issues are classic examples. Women’s suffrage, anti-voter suppression, de-segregation faced huge opposition, but the government saw it was inevitable and stepped in.
Prop 8 is a good modern example. Us (I use that term very loosely since I opposed it) Californians voted it in and now it’s been struck down. People say this is a blow against democracy and I understand that line of thought, but when did we all agree that you can democratically disenfranchise other people? I shouldn’t be able to tell people how to live their lives when they aren’t hurting me or anyone else. There’s plenty of stuff I find gross or creepy or wrong, but if it’s a part of a person’s private life, I generally consider it none of my business, why can’t the Right do the same?
Sadly, the change we really need to make in our country is having a smarter populace. Stupid people are gumming up the whole process.
“Fundamentally, our chief problem may be summed up as the effort to make men as nearly as they can be made, both free and equal; freedom and equality necessarily resting on a basis of justice and brotherhood.” -Theodore Roosevelt