January 9, 2011
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK TWO, 2011
Fried, Charles & Gregory Fried, Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror (New York: Norton, 2010) ("The society of nations is a society without a well-functioning legal system. The rules in the society of nations are contested, incomplete and poorly enforced. Mostly, the rule is self-help; only in very recent times--and then sporadically and unreliably--has there been anything like an outside authority to set the rules, adjudicate conflicts according to them, and then enforce its judgment. War is self-help. The war against terrorists is war indeed. But that does not mean anything goes, any more than in a contest between individuals who find themselves beyond the reach of law. Decency, mutual respect and moderation in the exercise of self-defense, whether retail or wholesale, are expressions of humanity. Indeed, because the unwilling are often recruited to fight battles between nations and peoples, 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind' (words from the Declaration of Independence) demands regard for the humanity of others and so for our own humanity even when we fight them in deadly earnest." Id. at 58-59. "There is a second strand to the argument for privacy. It does not emphasize the concrete disadvantages that government may impose on us. It emphasizes rather the value of privacy to our sense of personal integrity before government and all others. This second strand fears no concrete disadvantage deriving from privacy invasions by individuals or the government. Indeed, it lays claim to being the essence of privacy. By controlling information about yourself, you control who you are and who you can become. Think back to your adolescence and young adulthood. If there had been a permanent record easily available to all of everything you did and said (and wore), would you have been free to become the person you are today? Facebook and personal blogs are ways in which the young, imagining an infinite present, mortgage their future to their immediate impulses, leaving permanent traces of what they will later wish quite literally too efface. And even as fully formed adults we might choose to present one face to our friends, another to our workplace collaborators, and still a third to the strangers we pass as we walk along the street, shop, or sit in a restaurant. Indeed, there is still another presentation, the person we present to ourselves in all these encounters." Id. at 98-99.).