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Yes, the Christmas Bomber Has Miranda Protections

February 5, 2010

…because if he doesn’t, then you don’t either.

The conservative radio talk show hosts are still fuming that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – the guy that tried to blow his underwear up on an airplane over the Christmas holiday – was read his Miranda rights.  They argue that since he’s not a U.S. Citizen, he doesn’t have the rights that citizens suspected of committing crimes have.

If they adhere to their basic beliefs, they SHOULD be arguing the exact opposite.

The basic beliefs I’m talking about are pretty simple, but you can ask them a few questions to verify that they DO hold them.  Simply ask:

  1. Do you believe in God?
  2. Do you worship God or the Government?
  3. Who endows people with Rights?

The first two are pretty much given for Christians in any meaningful sense of the word.  The third one goes back to what many conservatives believe are their ideological roots – this country’s Founding Fathers.

If our rights come from the government, then they are arbitrary.  The government gets to decide what your rights are and when you can and can’t have them.  Since the government changes, your rights can change too.  They can even be taken away entirely.  It means that our country’s foundation had no basis, since the government we had at the time didn’t grant us the right to declare independence.  It means that opposition to Slavery has no significant basis as long as there isn’t a law against it.  It means that attacking Iraq to save its people from the atrocities of its government can’t be justified – after all, their rights weren’t being violated, they didn’t exist!

It also means that any time the government decides YOUR rights are inconvenient, it can rescind them.

If, on the other hand, they are based on something more fundamental, then they are your rights whether you are a citizen of the United States or not.  If they exist before the government says they exist, then the government does NOT get to decide who has them – they are not confined to borders.  Call them Natural rights, Universal rights, or God given, they are rights that we have because we are PEOPLE, not Citizens of one particular country.  All a country can do is choose how to protect them.

This is why the Declaration of Independence asserts we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights.  It is also why our bill of rights never says “the United States Grants its Citizens the right of…”  It states that rights already exist, that they shall not be infringed on and that they are protected.

And that’s where Miranda comes in.

The right to remain silent exists as a right because beating people until they confess to whatever crime you want them to is wrong.  the right to an attorney exists because, while you may know that the government is violating your God given rights, you may NOT know what protections the law has in place to stop it, prevent it from continuing and possibly prevent it from happening in the first place.

And Your right to KNOW that you have these rights exists because, even in the United States, sometimes government officials, politicians and bureaucrats can be assholes.

Now criminals CAN have some rights taken away – if you are misusing your freedoms, you lose the rights that allow you to misuse them.  However, Abdulmutallab hasn’t actually been convicted yet.  And while you COULD make the argument that on conviction he loses his miranda rights, you can’t automatically separate his loss of rights from the loss of every other jaywalker given a citation.  Either a right is completely at the mercy of the government – at which point, they are as good as nonexistent – or they are founded on something more fundamental.

And if they are based on something more fundamental, then they exist BEYOND the bounds of citizenship.


“Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
Thomas Jefferson

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From → Liberty, politics

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