Ted Bundy. Jeffrey Dahmer. Timothy McVeigh. Charles Manson. Ramzi Yousef. Monsters all, monsters responsible for the deaths of many, many Americans. Monsters all who were captured and subjected to the American justice system.
Where each of them were given lawyers and afforded every legal right to which they were entitled. Not one of them was summarily executed for their crimes, none of them excluded from the laws that governed their protection.
Indeed, we are lectured at every opportunity how wonderful it was that our system is a system of laws. That it is a testament to the wisdom and greatness of our legal system that even the most heinous of monsters are protected from arbitrary, capricious justice, and even against these monsters the government has limits and rules and laws it must obey.
And in each case, we are told that their defense is not an endorsement of their alleged crimes, but an obligation upon all of us to make certain that even in these cases — especially in these cases — we must show that we are just, that we are governed by laws and not passions, that even the mighty must obey the rules.
But that seems to be set aside when the target is not an individual. When the target is something monolithic and faceless as a corporation, the principle goes right out the window.
For example, let’s look at BP. A lot of people (myself included) have been accused of sticking up for BP, shilling for them, possibly even being on their payroll (I wish). Because of the massive oil spill in the Gulf, they’re no longer entitled to the protections of the law.
Like in the cases I mentioned at the opening, it’s not a matter of standing up for the accused. I find myself loathing BP for what they did — or didn’t do.
But I “stand up” for them because as much as I despise them, I fear more the precedent that would be set if we allow the Obama administration to sidestep the law in making sure BP is thoroughly punished. We’re already seeing that happen — for example, the $20-billion shakedown. Here, we have the president strong-arming a private business out of its money, to be administered by a person of his choosing, and in a manner designed to circumvent the normal bankruptcy process — putting the federal government ahead of those who would normally come first.
All done without a single law to justify it, just on the Obama administration’s say-so.
If any corporation deserves this treatment, I’d have to put BP up there. But I simply don’t trust the Obama administration with the power it’s exercising in this case. Nor would I trust future administrations with the power established thus.
So, “sticking up for BP?” Not really. “Standing up against a naked, corrupt power grab by the Obama administration” would be closer. So would “standing up for the principle of justice for all, even the most despicable scumbags.”
But there’s a bright side. The Obama regime will not last forever, and they’re piling up a tremendous set of precedents. Every now and then I fantasize about how a future Republican administration will take the powers seized by the Obama administration and turn them on groups like the SEIU, and I get a warm glow inside. Or I listen to Representative Darrell Issa threaten to treat Democrats like they treated Republicans for years and years, and I smile.
I don’t think I’d like to actually see those things happen. But I do hope that the thought that they might come to pass might give pause to those currently holding — and abusing their powers.
If that means that, occasionally, I have to observe that BP isn’t quite Satan personified, so be it. I can live with that.