John Adams Would Have Understood Perfectly

Here’s the memo.  Some people seem to have not got it yet, so I’m giving you the salient points here.

We do not afford criminals due process because we think the criminals are morally worthy of much of anything.  They demonstrably are not.  Rather, we afford criminals due process because we hold ourselves and our government to a moral standard that is different than that of a criminal.

We rely on due process and respect human rights because we’re better than them.  If we don’t do it, we’re not better than them.  It’s not a question of what rights they would afford us.  It’s a question of what kind of a people we are.  It’s a question of not allowing ourselves to become like them.

We do it because we are a people who wish to live under a society of laws.  Therefore, we will not conduct ourselves lawlessly.  What our enemies do, what outlaws have done, is irrelevant.  Maybe I haven’t been clear.

We are not outlaws and “they” are not our teachers.

Which is why Nidal Malik Hasan gets to have an arraignment, a proper investigation, an attorney, a trial by jury, a presumption of innocence so strong that the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and appellate review of the process.  Even if Wolf Blitzer doesn’t like it.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I don't know what you're looking for. Nor will I promise that I'll write what you'd like to read.

  2. … I'll write what you'd like to readThat meansA. He's a common criminal like TookieB. He's Insane. Why else would he do it?C. He's a victim.D. He's a religious fanatic.

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