Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On "States Rights" and "We're Just Enforcing the Law"

There are weasel words and there are weasel phrases.  Today's news events bring to mind the weasel phrases  "State's Rights" and "We're Just Enforcing the Law".

The Civil War and Jim Crow bring to mind the weasel phrase "State's Rights."  The weasel concept of "State's Rights" was used to defend slavery and later on racial segregation and the Jim Crow laws that were used to deny the civil rights of minorities.  This excuse was used because tide of history was working against these last racist holdouts so they invoked the magical rights of "States" to deny the real-life rights of actual living breathing human beings.

The rights of actual living breathing human beings  should never be subordinated to the rights of states and particularly  never because of the irrational, ideologically or religiously based dogmatic beliefs of people who, finding themselves in a minority, seek to reduce their sphere of influence to a level where they finally find themselves in a majority.  Quite often, this is a State.  If they have to go down to the level of a county or city or even neighborhood, they would do so if it allowed them to deny those human rights to others.  There really is no reason why "County Rights" is illegitimate while "States Rights" is legitimate; the truth is that neither is legitimate when it comes to limiting human rights.  Human rights should not disappear when you cross state or county or city lines.

Today, 2/22/17, citing "States Rights," the Trump administration at the behest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will now allow States to force transgender children to use the restroom that the state demands that they use, if that is what the State chooses to do while exercising their rights.  Yes, transgender children who present as male but who were born with a body typical of a female will be forced to use the girls rooms in some states, while children who present and identify as female but were born with the body of male will be forced to use the boys room.

Transgender persons have a suicide attempt rate of over 40% in some studies while the rest of the population has a rate in the low single digits.  However, when a transgender has the support of their family and community and are able to have the associated surgeries if they so desire, their suicide rate plunges to near the population average.  Apparently, in my opinion, this does not concern the likes of Jeff Sessions.  Go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/us/politics/devos-sessions-transgender-students-rights.html .  This is the kind of thing that "States Rights" is typically used for.

The other "weasel phrase" for today is "We're Just Enforcing the Law".  The Trump Administration has changed the guidelines for enforcing immigration laws.  They New York Times does a good job of describing the changes:  "President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes...  Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.

The new enforcement policies put into practice language that Mr. Trump used on the campaign trail, vastly expanding the definition of “criminal aliens” and warning that such unauthorized immigrants “routinely victimize Americans,” disregard the “rule of law and pose a threat” to people in communities across the United States.

Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans." Go to https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/us/politics/dhs-immigration-trump.html .

Now of course, everyone supports the deportation of those here illegally if they are criminals.  Who needs them?  But is it really in the nation's best interest to go after even those who have not committed crimes? The government does not go after every infraction unmercifully after all.  What if the government punished every person who ever smoked pot?  Or punished every person who violated any archaic law regarding sexual relations (not including child abusers of course)?  Or every jaywalker?  Or every copyright violator?  Or any lawbreaker of  any law, period?  Who'd be left?  No one!  It is hard to never go over 55MPH on any highway, or 65MPH where it is allowed.  Who'd be left?  No one!!

And that is why guidelines are so important.  But never mind that; they'll just say, "We're Just Enforcing the Law."  Weasels.
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