“Know Your Rights” from Live: From Here To Eternity (1999). The studio recording was the lead track on Combat Rock (1982):
Yes, I featured this song before, but it seems so appropriate this week, what with all the drone/targeted killing/due process talk going around. Also, it pretty much kicks ass.
In any event, when it comes to civil liberties, “Know Your Rights” is even more cynical than some of my recent posts, but these lyrics struck me as particularly timely:
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a CRIME!
Unless it was done
by a policeman
or an aristocrat …
I could add: Or by the state, with due process.
That’s the thing about that due process. It’s all about the process, and not about the results. So, for example, although the death penalty is just about the most abhorrent a thing an allegedly civilized society can do (except, you know, going to war without a sufficient justification), we allow it – so long as the condemned person is afforded due process. In fact, in our legal system, death penalty proceedings are the very pinnacle of due process. The law requires the criminal justice system to indulge in every possible consideration that might lead to another result. The death penalty is reserved for only the most serious offenses. It can be imposed only after the judge or jury considers a litany of aggravating and mitigating factors. The process cannot be arbitrary, but it cannot prevent the sentencing authority from acting out of mercy. It requires a three-tiered procedure where a court must first find the defendant guilty of a capital offense, then find that the defendant meets certain statutory requirements for the imposition of the death penalty, and then – and only then – can the judge or jury consider whether it should sentence the defendant to death. If the court imposes the death penalty, that sentence is automatically subject to appellate review. And at each phase of the process, the court must scrupulously protect the defendant’s rights, including the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, the right to compulsory process, the right to an impartial jury, the right against self incrimination, and so forth.
And yet, despite all that due process, in America we execute more people than in any other free country in the world.
Sometimes, due process isn’t the cure. Sometimes, you have to eliminate the underlying substantive wrong – the death penalty, the war on terror – because there’s no process in the world that can salvage it.
Food for thought, no?
Anyway, since this is my blog and my Friday Clash Song feature, let’s play two. As the legendary Ernie Banks would say.
Here’s another song appropriate for the times:
So there you go. Not just Your Friday Clash Song, but Your Friday Clash Songs.
You know what to do.
Turn ’em both up.