"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, April 21, 2006

Getting Out of Line: The Nuns Had It Right

If you didn't catch it:

WASHINGTON (AP)-- In a surprise outburst, a screaming protester confronted President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao and interrupted the welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn Thursday.

"President Bush, stop him from killing," the woman shouted for several minutes before security officers forcibly removed her. "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong" -- a banned religious movement in China.

Standing beside Bush, Hu had just begun his opening remarks when the woman started yelling in Chinese and English. The woman identified by Secret Service as Wenyi Wang, 47, has been charged with disorderly conduct, officials said.

Our esteemed Dr. Z swoops in with a post below and asks:

Apparently the law under which she is being charged proscibes "harassing, intimidating or threatening a foreign official in the performance of their official duties."

So: Was Hu harassed, intimidated, or threatened?

Yeah on the first, Ben.

And I must say that on the whole, even though harassment is routine if not de rigeur for American presidents when they travel abroad, the next two pretty much don't happen.

Certainly in part because of his hosts' de rigeur security arrangements, but perhaps also because there's some glimmer of hope that civilization (civility?---they have the same etymology) is universal.

Perhaps "harassment" should be removed from the statute if it holds her behavior to be more serious than a misdemeanor, which is what it is.

I myself wanted to yell at the local postmistress the other day, because she is helping our regular carrier to get out of delivering our mail during road construction. But I thought I might end up in the federal clink, so I didn't risk it.

I didn't like that, in this here "free" country. My demeanor was decidedly mis- but she had it coming. I would have committed some righteous civil disobedience if the penalty were not so potentially disproportionate. (No jury would have convicted me, I'm sure, although I ain't convinced.)

So, yeah---she should be punished even though we cannot help but agree with her. We're trying to show China and the rest of the world that nations should be of laws.
Now, I'm on record that I think it's necessary to observe that informal space between law and society (people), but I'm against letting the power of either one obviate the other:

"Red" China has societally become expedient/utilitarian to the point of a new and improved tyranny; by contrast, the US and the West are becoming crippled to the point of self-destruction by their own laws. Surely there is a wiser course between the two.

Me, I think we should bring back corporal punishment: justice requires that Wenyi Wang receive a slap on the wrist, then go forth and sin no more---she made her point.

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