Monday, January 24, 2005

Hyman Supports Civil Rights . . . for Some

We appreciate Mark Hyman’s new-found interest in civil liberties. We just wish his interest weren’t so narrow.

Hyman makes a valid point concerning the unconstitutionality of a DNA “dragnet” being used in Truro, Massachusetts to help solve a murder. Asking all adult men in the town to voluntarily give a DNA sample or risk intensive police surveillance is wrong and probably unproductive as well. Hyman says all civil liberties groups should be up in arms over this tactic, and they already are. Two weeks ago, the
ACLU called for an end to the dragnet.

The only fly in the ointment of Hyman’s argument, however, is that it’s suspiciously specific. Truro is a tiny town of 1600. The Patriot Act, however,
grants a great many unconstitutional powers to law enforcement across the entire nation. Under the Patriot Act, illegal searches and wiretapping have become easier, people can be detained without reason indefinitely, and U.S. citizens can literally be labeled “unAmerican” and have their citizenship stripped from them. In fact, the government itself has already found evidence of many violations of civil rights under the aegis of the Patriot Act.

So sweeping is the Patriot Act assault on constitutional rights that both liberal and conservative groups have called for its repeal. Yet Mark Hyman seems to have little to say about it.

Perhaps this is because the Patriot Act is a product of the Bush administration which Hyman consistently champions. But there might be other reasons for Hyman’s selectivity. Given the
demographics of the tiny resort town of Truro, the DNA dragnet carried out there affects a group made up almost entirely of white, wealthy, educated males.

We’d find Hyman’s defense of civil liberties far more convincing if he seemed to care about the rights of all people, not just those that look like him.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.