Right and Wrong: Different For Americans?

Pandagon had some good observations on Ashcroft’s response to this torture thing:

[Update: I’m glad I copied those observations, since the link I previously used above no longer works. Downside of the Pandagon website reorganization…]

Ashcroft, even though he’s the Attorney General, is a person who believes that things are wrong even if they’re not against the law. Similarly, his party is, in large part, driven by similar ethics. Why would a man coming from his very strict moral and ethical background parse words like this? What he says is technically true – they sought to torture legally, and I’m pretty sure they now reject torture like it was a rat poison margarita.

But isn’t it something how a man who finds himself and his ideological movement inordinately capable of condemning any number of legal things is so readily capable of parsing this out of existence?

I’ve always wondered this about the gag rule on international family planning groups – that we were able to implement because people outside of America aren’t legally covered by our First Amendment. Despite taking an aggressive and even hostile stance as righteous purveyors of democracy throughout the world, we decided that freedom of speech is optional for non-Americans, rather than treating it as a fundamental human right that exists regardless of how any particular government chooses to treat it at a particular time.

Why do we get to choose when to implement what’s right? Why do we get to detain people at Guantanamo Bay by declaring them outside of the jurisdiction of the courts?

The answer “because we can” is not enough. The answer “because it’s more convenient” is not enough.