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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Deju Vu with Richard Reid

A friend of mine sent me an email the other day – an email that has been circulating in cyberspace since 2003. This email gives the remarks of Judge Young after the sentencing of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. My friend’s version of this email begins with:

"Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to
light it?Did you know his trial is over?
Did you know he was sentenced?Did
you see/hear any of the judge's comments on TV/Radio?Didn't think so.Everyone
should hear what the judge had to say."

And then includes the text of the Judge’s remarks (the forwarded email has been circulating cyberspace for quite awhile and appears on the urban legends site. The Judge’s remarks are accurate – but the implication that there was no media coverage is not in the least accurate. See http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_richard_reid.htm) and closes with:

“We need more judges like Judge Young, but that's another subject.Pass this
around.Everyone should and needs to hear what this fine judge had to
say.Powerful words that strike home.Please forward this---------so that every
American has a chance to read it.”

I wonder if my friend even realizes how old this email was. Does he/she think this sentencing had just occurred? Probably – because he/she is upset over the lack of coverage. Yup – there ain’t much coverage now of Judge Young’s remarks, since it happened 2 ½ years ago. Part of me wonders why this friend had sent this propaganda to me to begin with – considering he/she knows my liberal leanings. But I dashed off this response to my friend:

The sentencing of Richard Reid and Judge Young’s remarks were covered extensively! The SF Chron, San Diego Tribune, NY Times. Washington Post, Herald Tribune, etc., carried news of the sentencing and the judge’s remarks back in January of ’03 when it occurred. The sentencing and remarks were also broadcast on TV (CNN for one) - there was no lack of media coverage. I wish the judge had focused his remarks more on points of law, as the remarks he made are pure propaganda - he uses unsupported generalities certain to appeal to emotion.

Judge Young’s statement that the "terrorists" hate our freedom takes a complicated problem and boils it down to a simplistic, emotional argument (not to mention that his sentiment and phrasing are not in the least original – the Bush Administration has been touting this line for a long time, in an effort to pump up testosterone in our young men and nationalism in our citizenry). It's not our "freedom" which drives these people to do such despicable things at all. It's not our freedom they hate, it's the way we swagger around the world, talking about freedom, yet by our very actions, we make life much harder than it has to be for third-world and developing nations. Our foreign aid, and international business and trade policies often cause further poverty and oppression in such countries. As Ziauddin Sadar (British writer, broadcaster, and cultural critic) points out, they hate that we are 3% of the world's population, yet we consume 25% of the world's resources and produce 30% of the world's pollution (2003, Terrorists R Us, http://adbusters.org/the_magazine/content/view/99/108/ ).

I don't agree with the action Reid took (or attempted to take), but the issue isn't as simple as "they hate our freedom" - it's far more complicated than that.

I am weary of the lack of critical thinking in our country, of the use of propaganda by our government and worse, by the judiciary. And I’m sick of our politicians and PACs and political nonprofits using the same propaganda techniques to sway and persuade us, instead of rational, logical, well-founded, well-grounded, well-documented, articulate arguments. And we just fall for it, time after time. We are not a well-informed, critically-thinking populace.

Well, I've said my piece. How are you folks?
Here is the text as it appeared in the email from my friend. (Note that the text doesn’t include Reid’s full remarks, which make for some interesting reading and interpretation - so here's the link for Reid's full remarks: http://urbanlegends.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/01/31/reid.transcript/ ).

Ruling by Judge William Young, US District Court. Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he hadanything to say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for therecord, Reid also admitted his "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam,and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stated "I think I will notapologize for my actions," and told the court "I am at war with yourcountry." Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below: January 30, 2003, United States vs. Reid. Judge Young:"Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes uponyou.On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in thecustody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7,the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the senteneon each count to run consecutive with the other.That's 80 years.On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutiveto the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you each of theeight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. TheCourt accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitutionand orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and$5,784 to American Airlines.The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply becausethe law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so Ineed go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by ourstatutes.It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.Let me explain this to you.We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr.Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There isall too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmostrespect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals andcare for individuals as individuals.As human beings, we reach out for justice.You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist.You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist.To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too muchstature.Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney whodoes it, or ifyou think you are a soldier. You are not----- you are a terrorist And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet withterrorists. We donot sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bringthem to justice!So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow.But you are not that big.You're no warrior. I've know warriors.You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multipleattempted murders.In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you firstwere taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where thepress and where the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal."You are no big deal.What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneyshave grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried tograpple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that ledyou here to this courtroom today?I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you tosearch your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led youto do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I searchthis entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. Youhate our freedom.Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, tocome and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individuallychoose.Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries iteverywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individualfreedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom.So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly,individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyersare striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will goon in their representation of you before other judges.We Americans are all about freedom.Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure ofour own liberties.Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bare any burden; payany price, to preserve our freedoms.Look around this courtroom. Mark it well.The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day aftertomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the Americanpeople will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, notwar, individual justice is in fact being done.The very President of the United States through his officers will have tocome into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can bejudged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidencedemocratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America.That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flagstands for freedom. And it always will.Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.


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