In her speech last night, Sarah Palin mocked the idea that terrorists would be “read their rights.” Well, setting aside the obvious complications that come from prosecuting an international “war on terror,” I’m perturbed by the idea that reading someone his rights would be a bad thing. One of the great selling points for this country is that even bad guys, really bad guys, terrible terrible guys, have rights. After all, sometimes those presumed-guilty people end up being, you know, innocent.
In support of my view (and, umm, the Constitution) allow me to trot out the old war horse of this particular argument, A Man For All Seasons.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
I expect our friends at the Thomas More Center to put out a similar statement any moment now.