January 02, 2005

A Special Case

Digby raises an interesting issue: If we're really going to lock up suspected terrorists indefinitely in some far away holding cell, why not hold suspected murderers indefinitely too? Or suspected rapists? Is terrorism really so qualitatively different from those other crimes?

More to the point, too, why should a conservative think that terrorism is any different from murder, really? The usual answer, I take it, is that terrorism inspires fear among the general population, so it affects more than just the person or persons killed. But so do hate crimes, arguably, and conservatives don't tend to favor giving hate crimes special legal status. The "terror" effect of hate speech is also usually discounted or trivialized. Now I don't want to lump all "conservatives" together here, but I don't see how anyone could hold that:
a) "Hate crimes" do not deserve their own special category of crime,
b) The effects of hate speech are not important enough to require any restrictions on hate speech,

and also

c) Terrorism is such a special and egregious category of murder that it requires drastic measures, including the elimination of due process, etc. etc.
Obviously nuclear terrorism is something to think about here -- since that's obviously a special and egregious category of murder that can't really be compared to hate crimes -- but I imagine that most suspected terrorists are quite evidently not suspected nuclear terrorists.
-- Brad Plumer 7:48 PM || ||