Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Liberal" Views of Crime?

Looking around the blogosphere today I stumbled across an interview between two people who seemed like "strange bedfellows." One was Jeralyn Merritt, author of the blog TalklLeft, which bills itself as "The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news." On that blog, Jeralyn describes herself as:

"[a] criminal defense attorney in Denver representing persons accused of serious federal and state offenses. She served as one of the principal trial lawyers for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City Bombing Case.

She has served as Secretary, Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as well as on the ABA Criminal Justice Section Council and the Board of Governors of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers."

The other "blogginghead" was Ann Althouse, a law professor from the University of Wisconsin, famous for her reaction to the picture of Jose Padilla being transported to the dentist in blackened goggles and wearing other sensory deprivation equipment. Ann's answer to the question of why Padilla was treated this way: (scroll down to the 6:30 a.m. comment):

Perhaps there is a fear he will communicate in code by blinking.

and later, after a commenter asks her "With who? Mr. Padilla has been held in solitary confinement for years, and it's hard to imagine who would know he was going to the dentist and who and how they could continue to communicate with him... Frankly, I believe the blacked-out goggles and the attached sound suppressing device (so that he also couldn't hear anything) are a sadistic way of continuing his sensory deprivation" Ann responds:

Since he was being filmed, anyone might get to see him. I think there's good reason to think that members of conspiracies have a code for signalling to each other after they are captives. (9:48 am)

and later, Ann responds:

I'm not saying Padilla deserves to be treated the way he has over the years, but I am responding to the assertion that there is absolutely no conceivable reason for blindfolding him. Plainly, I have refuted that.

I thought it odd as it is to hear a law professor react to an American citizen's being described by the Attorney General as the "Dirty Bomber," be held without charge for years, and who is goggled, gagged and deprived of sound on a trip to the dentist with, "perhaps there is a fear he will communicate in code by blinking."

But I thought it even more odd that a high profile criminal defense attorney would appear with such a person without at least raising the subject. After all one of the Public Defenders assigned to represent Padilla described him as:

"remain[ing]s unsure if I and the other attorneys working on his case are actually his attorneys or another component of the government’s interrogation scheme... During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body... The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel."

Not exactly the kind of thing you just laugh off with "perhaps they had a good reason," is it?

Then I went to another blog, in the spirit of "knowing thine enemy" where supposed Libertarian law professor Glenn Reynolds links to various right wing blogs.

Strange though, that in scrolling down the page I see two links to Talkleft, Jeralyn Merritt's supposed "magazine of Liberal coverage" of crime and politics.

I was even surprised to see the Right Wing gateway Instapundit with a blogroll to the supposed liberal, left wing Talkleft. Now, admittedly there is a lot of cross-linking of left and right wing blogs all over the place, but take a look at Instapundit's links and see if I'm wrong that he doesn't market his opposition unless they're carrying his water.

So I decide to comment at Jeralyn's "online magazine of liberal coverage" to ask her what her thoughts are on a friendly Althouse interview, where one of the topics is "an appreciation of Charlton Heston, actor and activist," as well as a lot of mentions and even a link on Instapundit.

I don't remember what I wrote exactly but it was short and sweet. I would tell you exactly except my comment/question was deleted within a couple minutes. I wrote something like:

I saw your interview with Ann Althouse. As a criminal defense lawyer was it at all difficult to sit down and talk to someone who is on record saying that Jose Padilla likely had to be blindfolded and deprived of other senses because of a "fear that he might communicate by blinking in code?"

Also, I saw that you're mentioned repeatedly and even blogrolled at Instapundit. Is it difficult to be a "liberal online" and to be so lauded at such a right wing site?

I'm not being flippant. I really want to know hif you can explain this."

But my comment was deleted straightaway and Jeralyn explained that "the comment thread was cleaned up and three commenters have been banned."

I would duplicate the quote exactly, but the banning means that I can't even access the comment thread anymore. I'm a man without a comment thread, shunned by my liberal, criminal defense brethren at Talkleft who say "no soup for you."

My screen name at Talkleft is "Lennonist" and all I am saying is give talk a chance. After all if you believe in "talk," the "left" and "liberalism," are you living up to these principles if your response to someone daring to ask why those who believe in the opposite of these values holds you up as a model is to delete the question?

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