I recall a TV interview from years ago where a child-rearing professional said he witnessed reckless innocence and ignorance in action in his own living room, albeit with two animals. (Let’s put aside for now the possibility that animals can be regarded with the labels innocent or ignorant.) The drama played out like this: his family’s pet hamster was trying to climb out of its cage, but little did the hamster know that across the living room, crouching around the corner of the couch and poised to pounce was the family cat. The professional used this example to warn parents to make sure their children stayed within the loving “cage” of their parents’ rules, lest they get harmed by negative influences and experiences.
A recent discussion between Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade and Fox’s legal eagle Peter Johnson brought this hamster-cat example to mind. In this discussion, which focused on the “mirandizing” of the surviving Boston bombing suspect, Kilmeade joins league with the hamster when he climbs out of the Constitution/Bill of Rights cage (actually, like all statist neoconservatives, he climbs in and out of that cage depending on which of their oxen is being gored) and expresses his dismay with the fact that an American citizen who most likely will be found guilty of a horrendous act of terror, will have at his disposal the option available to all Americans—even the nastiest–to remain silent.
Kilmeade goes on to answer Johnson’s statement that “we’re a nation of laws” with this zinger: “We are a nation to stay alive.” Johnson also states that “Either we believe in the Constitution or we don’t believe in the Constitution.” To this Kilmeade—not yet done with great retorts—puts Johnson in his place with “Not everyone is worthy of the constitutional rights that we have.” Wow! This comment could easily come from the mouth of any banana republic dictator. Johnson adds that Senator Graham wants to “suspend civil rights and constitutional law” (in cases like this). To this, Kilmeade adds: “For public safety.”
I don’t think that Hamster Kilmeade realizes what this kind of thinking can lead to. Johnson tries to warn him that it could be him or his family who could be in jeopardy under this sort of exemption. Kilmeade puts that silly notion to rest by saying that he is “not blowing up the subway.” Take that, Johnson. Johnson, however, is hardly off the hook, for he contradicts himself by saying that “I didn’t say end the public safety exemption.” So, basically, in this interview, he is little more than the Devil’s advocate. What else can you expect from “conservative” Fox News?
Yes, let’s have a “public safety exemption.” That worked well for the thousands of Japanese who were interned in camps during World War Two. Let’s deny an entire race of people the Constitutional right to own firearms because of “public safety” as well.
I can understand the frustration of law-enforcement personnel who feel hamstrung by an inability to gather intelligence from a mute suspect. (My eldest son is a cop.) However, we see on an everyday basis the actions of a tyrannical government that has turned the practice of skirting the Constitution into a decadent art.
So Brian—and you, too, Peter—my advice to you both is to climb back into that cage called the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and stay there. I know that the word cage sounds negative and limiting, but Jefferson himself said: “In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Benjamin Franklin also warned that those who would sacrifice their liberty for safety would end up with neither. So chains or cage, Brian and Peter. Take your pick. The Constitution is there for your own protection. Trust me, but more importantly trust the Founding Fathers.