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Christopher Wilde
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Body

I should say that a fundamental underpinning of my philosophy is that I don't see a fundamental difference between my human rights and the human rights of someone in another country. They may not enjoy the legal protections, they may not even view that they have the same rights, and they may not appreciate those rights.  That the rights are there is what is important.

The first step for those of us having a high level of human rights is simply accepting those rights in others, appreciating that they exist even when not upheld, and talking to those rights even if we don't always extend legal protections around the world.  We should in all cases, were it is prudent and in our hearts and minds, recognize those rights.

Now, instead of arrogantly criticizing China or another nation that does not recognize those rights let me tell you a story about something that I witnessed right here in Salt Lake City back around 1994.

I was in court on a minor traffic violation.  I was fighting that violation on my own and taking it to trial.  My efforts to do that is a story in and of its own, but it was one of my first encounters with studying the legal system of this country and I consider it a profitable experience.

While I was waiting for my case to come before the court the city prosecutor was handling dozens of cases.  One of those cases was a woman who had no legal representation, and clearly she was in no condition to represent herself.  The charge was a domestic disturbance arising out of a dispute between her and her boyfriend or husband.  Apparently she hit him, he called the cops, and she was arrested.

This boyfriend/husband told the woman he was going to show up and testify on her behalf.  Thus she hoped the charge would be dismissed.  When he didn't show up, she was in a panic.  I sat in the pew behind her as she and the prosecutor conversed.  She didn't know what to do, and she turned to the prosecutor for help.

The real problem was that without the husband, or another witness to the violence, there was no case for the prosecutor.  You have a right to be confronted with the witness against you.  But with most legal rights, even this fundamental Constitutional right, you have to know them, and you have to assert them in order to maintain them.

The prosecutors advice to her was to plead guilty which she did.

Truly, a travesty of justice.  The point I'm making here, is that even in the good old United States of America you have no rights. You have no privilege, unless you either know your rights or can afford to have someone know and assert them for you.

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