In 1975, Hillary Clinton defended a man accused of rape. The man passed a polygraph and ultimately he entered a plea and was sentenced to either probation or a short jail sentence or walked away scott free, depending on the reports you read. Clinton gave an interview where she talks about her role as the man’s attorney. You can listen to it here.
This case got a lot attention when Clinton first announced her candidacy for the Democratic ticket. It was the usual “she got a pedophile off and laughed about it!” “She loves rapists!” “She blamed the victim!” Or “I don’t mind she defended him, but she should not have gone after the victim.”
I have to admit that all of these comments gave me pause. I mean, these folks are born and bred Americans. They claim to love America more than muslims who were born here, more than black Americans I mean just they love it a lot. Like a whole lot. Yet, the love seems to stop at the second amendment. Maybe they hate mass surveillance as well. But there is no love for the 6th Amendment.
Here, here’s the substance of that pesky amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Let’s look at that last line – assistance of counsel for his defence. That means a criminal defense attorney. Someone who defends him. You will notice it doesn’t say “only if he is innocent” or “if we feel his case is worthy of a defense and only the defense we think feels good to us.” It says in all criminal prosecutions. That means all. Even pedophiles. Even rapists. Even murderers. Everyone. All.
That’s step one. Great, so everyone is entitled to a defense. We then decided that this meant that the defense attorney had to be provided at the government’s expense if the accused couldn’t afford one. Therein come the Hillary Clinton’s of the world. Appointed counsel. Folks that do this work for almost no money but because, well, it’s like the thing we should do when asked to.
And man, it turned out she did a good job! People are angry that a person who was asked to do a job did it too well for their liking. Hey, could you kinda cook my food a little bit good, but not too good. Land that plane, but not totally land it totally well. Build my house, but leave out some of the nails, I don’t want it to be too sturdy.
All of that would be crazy talk, right?
But for criminal lawyers, actually defending our clients is viewed as a bad thing, making us evil beings who love crime. Doing the job the constitution requires us to do earns us the wrath and disgust of the people who are protected by it.
We are supposed to cross-examine the heck out of people, we are supposed to file motions questioning the truthfulness and accuracy of evidence, of witnesses. This entire method is actually premised on science – we keep testing it until the only thing that it could possibly be is that the accused is guilty. And since we know humans are fallible, we don’t even require total proof, just proof beyond a reasonable doubt (which, in the fourth circuit, we can’t even explain to jurors. But that’s a post for another time.)
Doesn’t that make sense? Do you not want only truly guilty people convicted and punished? Do you want people to be accused and convicted with a half-hearted defense that lets the government do whatever it wants? Don’t worry too much, more than 98% of cases end in pleas these days so the right to trial doesn’t mean very much anyway. You are getting what you want.
But I have to ask, why do you hate your rights so much?
The law is incredibly complex, even when it should be very simple. We have hearsay and exceptions to hearsay and times when hearsay is admissible no matter if the witness is available or not (although, thanks to that super liberal Justice Scalia, those times are now limited.) There are cross-examination techniques that work and those that come off clumsy and harsh. But you are entitled – yes you! To a defense that kicks ass and takes names. I know you’ve never done anything wrong in your life but that’s not the point. The point is that shit happens and if it does the Bill of Rights has your back.
Here’s the truth – I’ve cross examined rape accusers before, both kids and adults. I don’t mind it. I think it works better when a woman does it, and if there were no rape shield laws I would ask about prior sexual encounters and tastes. I question everything. That’s my job. I don’t believe in flying the plane and then saying fuck it to the landing.
The law is very clear. Criminal defense attorneys are to use everything at their disposal that is legal in order to defend their clients.
I am proud of what I do and proud of my colleagues and our criminal defense bar. We are the lawyers you’d most likely want to have a beer with. When shit goes down, we are the ones who will stand by your side, even after your mama says you are no longer her child. (It’s happened.)
Mrs. Clinton’s defense of this man was completely ethical. Forget ethical, it was required. What wasn’t required was that interview.
You want to be upset, be upset that she said she thought her client was guilty. Now, see, I didn’t say be mad that she defended a man she thought was guilty because that doesn’t matter. If you think someone is guilty and that bothers you, you don’t have to take the case. The 6th Amendment doesn’t say you are entitled to a defense ONLY if people think you are not guilty. I don’t care if you did it. If Mrs. Clinton was truly uncomfortable, she should have withdrawn from the case. Better yet, she should have kept her mouth shut about her thoughts on the client himself even after the case was over.
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I spent yesterday walking about downtown Cleveland which is filled with folks for the Republican National Convention. On my way here everyone told me to be careful, bring a gun, watch my back. All very good and smart words to heed considering the violence we see on the teeeveee and social media. It does seem that it’s everywhere, doesn’t it?
I showed up my usual naive self. I went out to Public Square which is, well, a public square. It was filled with police officers and media and a variety of people trying to drum up support for their particular cause. Code pink, some anarchists (who were really very nice) Trump supporters, Jill Stein supporters and Jesus Freaks.
There was very little violence. And by very little I mean one guy tried to take a swing at Alex Jones. There were some heated exchanges, but even those were nothing more than two people who both sound crazy spouting crazy talk at each other. Oh, am I being judgmental? I’m sorry. You can watch my periscope to find out what I’m talking about (all of it will be posted soon.)
But everyone was actually pretty nice to each other. Even folks who think Muslims are evil were nice to me. Maybe it catches them off guard because I look so normal? But I think it’s all part of the greater lie we are being told that America is falling apart and we need to take it back.
Here’s a secret folks- it really is all ok. Seriously. I wouldn’t lie to you.
There were people talking about how America was never great. I told him to go to Afghanistan and then tell me what’s not great about America. Nothing happened after that. That was it.
A 20 year old kid told me “All you need to do is have a banner and you can get on t.v.” He was holding a Trump banner following the anarchist ninjas around. Nothing happened to him either.
An anarchist was agreeing with a Trump supporter.
A guy who told me Obama was a muslim who hated America asked me if I was on facebook.
Some people said we are all going to hell. And there was a guy with a boot on his head.Â
All in all, it looked like a day in America. If you could take every bizarre-o world whacked out thing about America and put it in one place, you’d have what I saw yesterday. And to be honest, it really captures American culture at it’s best.
Do I think it’s crazy to say Obama smuggles Somalians into the U.S. through Mexico so they can wage war against us. Yup. Do I love that folks can stand there and say it. Also yup.
I love that we can walk around with our faces covered or uncovered, have an upside down flag and just speak our minds even if our minds are really confused about how the world works. I love people who say they are voting for Jill Stein and I loved the weirdos who danced barefoot in the fountain.
Thank you to those who were handing out bottles of water.
To the folks who say America was never great I ask this question – what do you want it to be? I don’t want to be like Japan, we bombed them, remember? I don’t want to ferret out ideas that I don’t like or disagree with or think are crazy. And man, oh boy. Wow. There are a lot of them. But who cares?
Look, we can all jump up and down and say burn it all down. You can rail against the ‘establishment’ whatever that is. Or, you can say you like things just how they are and you don’t want them ever to change. It actually doesn’t matter. Do you not see that the culture of America is not double stuffed crust pizza, or building walls or whatever white, black, asian, rainbow – whatever your narrow view believes it is? It is actually the craziness of being able to be all of it at once. What sort of place can contain all of this madness and rationality all at once?
America can. *
No where. You can’t do this anywhere else in the world. And if you cry about the west and how terrible it’s becoming you need to settle yourself down and look around you in America and not pretend like we are Sweden (we aren’t) or Germany (also we aren’t) or France (since when do we start wanting to be like the French anyway?) Just cut it out.
If you believe America is coming apart at the seams, come visit with me in Cleveland and fall in love with your country again.
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Maajid Nawaz wrote a wonderful piece about Qandeel Baloch, the social media sensation of Pakistan. His article is powerful, moving, and rational all at the same time. This is a tough thing to do when writing about things that are as politically and emotionally charged as religion. Ok, let’s say it – like Islam. When you write about Islam there seem to be two very polarized views, you are either for us or against us.
What an odd way of thinking of something, to not allow for any shades of grey, to not invite scrutiny or testing of our beliefs to see if they hold up under difficult circumstances. I would not rely on a shelter to keep me safe if the materials from which is was built had not been tested for the climate in which I was going to live. Why should my faith be any different? Defensiveness is proof that you don’t have faith in your beliefs; Â when you attack someone’s core values, well, that never works out well, does it? Perhaps there are other means and methods to tease out who we are, which one of our beliefs is worth saving and which may be salvaged with some work done to them, give them a little shine and some new life. Consider it a sort of religious ‘repurposing’ if you will.
Ah, so much of what I’ve written about the religion of my birth could be considered apostasy and yet, up until this year, no one had ever called me such a thing. Not my relatives who pray five times a day, not a member of the Taliban. No one. The people who call me an apostate these days are those who attempt to use the fact that I am muslim against me; the ones who would have others believe that because I believe in reform and advancement, someone wants to kill me. (Hint, the ones who call me an apostate aren’t muslim.) “Aha, see, you don’t wear a burqa! Your father will kill you!” Or some other such nonsense.
How strange that instead of being on my side, these people would rather see me dead or defeated. It would lead one to believe that they aren’t truly interested in the advancement of a society, but rather the destruction of it. We’ve had that happen to groups of people in history before. It didn’t turn out so well.
But I digress.
This post isn’t about jerks on the internet that say dumb things to me. It’s about Qandeel Baloch. It’s about the fact that while we sit here and lament our state as women in the west being upset that we are told to smile, women in other countries are defying every cultural norm simply by walking down the street the way you and I do every day. Me. The way I do. A muslim woman from Afghanistan. Kandahar. I am free and they are not. And when they act the way I do, a way that is considered provocative or simply not afraid, their life is at risk.
(If your response to this is do away with Islam, well, you can stop reading this now. There is nothing here for you. Find a better use of your time.)
Women’s sexuality is a complicated issue for men. This is true regardless of where we live or how advanced we consider ourselves as a society. There are those in the United States who believe we have a rape culture. I think this is preposterous, having lived in America since I was 18 months old and have not felt that society was saying it was ok for men to rape me. I’ve argued that rape should not be a crime separate from assault, because in doing so we say that we value a woman’s sexuality differently than we value her face, her arms, or her brain. We have hundreds and thousands of articles that talk about how a woman should dress for a job interview, for picking a jury. I can’t go to the jail if my skirt is 2″ over my knee or if I am wearing a sleeveless top under my suit jacket. This is because I am sex.
In Afghanistan women (in certain areas) are covered from head to toe in the street. No one can see if they are young or old, fat or fit. All of them are nameless and faceless. This is because they are sex. In Afghanistan, though, we are clear about it. Women tempt men. Men want to have sex with women. Men are weak so women must cover themselves to protect themselves from men having sex with them. Voila. The true patriarchy at work.
Qandeel Baloch didn’t cover herself. Men wanted her. She was sex.
Her brother felt shame at this. He felt shame knowing his sister was a human being that people – men – would want to have sex with. She was sex and sex was shame.
To be honest, I don’t really understand shame. In my language, to be called shameless is a horrible insult. I’ve been called it a few times in my life. Being shameless is, in many ways, worse than being an apostate. At least with shame, you can put on the act. Society makes you go into your corner, retreat and behave in a way that is much more polite. Of course, the standards of politeness depend on the company you keep. But shame can make you seem like a good muslim.
When you have no shame, well, all of that goes out the window.
Baysharma. Without shame.
Qandeel Baloch was not acting the part of the good muslim woman according to the standards of the society her brother wished to keep. You know what? Fuck him.
I frequently feel like I’ve run out of words, that I’m pounding the same drum to the same beat over and over and over again. It feels hopeless at times. And then another person is killed for some reason that I cannot fathom and I pick up the drum and beat it again.
I don’t know if this post made sense. If it didn’t it is because this death doesn’t make sense and I cannot justify it and I cannot justify a faith that would allow it. I am not for you and I am not against you. But I am as baysharma as Qandeel Baloch was.
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This week Mirriam chats with A.J. Delgado. A.J. is an attorney, conservative commentator, columnist, public speaker and author. She has been published in the American Conservative, National Review, and The Miami Herald as well as appearing on radio, online and cable news shows, including Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and NPR. A.J. has also been a very vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Its an exciting discussion and a lot of fun! Find A.J. on Twitter @ajdelgado13
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