BRADLEY MANNING A ‘BRAVE OKLAHOMAN’
I am writing in response to Clifton Adcock’s cover story “WikiLeaker?” from the Dec. 29, 2010, issue of Oklahoma Gazette. I was very happy to see the story of Pfc. Bradley Manning told in an evenhanded manner. I was even more happy to see the level of depth given to this story, and to the attempt made to flesh out the humanity of someone who has been largely vilified by the mass media.
There is one aspect of this story that I think you neglected, though, which is the support that Bradley is receiving here in Oklahoma. Many of us in the local peace and justice community believe that Bradley (if guilty of what he is charged with) should not be punished. We believe, rather, that the “necessity defense” (the idea that a person should not be punished for a crime, if the harm of following the law is greater than the harm of breaking the law) should excuse his actions.
We believe the “necessity” involved here is that “we the people” need to know what is really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to the leaks, we now have accurate information about civilian body counts. We now know the terrorist ties of many of our supposed “allies.” And we are able to watch the appalling video of U.S. troops slaughtering civilians from helicopter gunships.
(You can watch the video for yourself online at www.collateralmurder.com.)
Despite the noble action taken by Bradley, our nation has instead decided to punish him, even before trial. He is currently held at Quantico, where he has been in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, for the last seven months. And when he does goes to trial, he’ll face possible decades in prison in a military kangaroo court, with a jury not composed of his peers, but of high-ranking service members who are handpicked by the prosecuting command.
We believe this treatment is wrong.We stand in solidarity with this brave Oklahoman and are committed to the fight to secure his freedom.
—James Matthew Branum
Branum is an attorney with the nonprofit Oklahoma Center for Conscience.
The two recent articles featuring former Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy (Ben Fenwick, “Bob Macy: A look back,” Dec. 15, 2010, Gazette), complete with string tie, and trial attorney Garvin Isaacs, defender of justice (Ron J. Jackson Jr., “The defender,” Dec. 22, 2010, Gazette), sure made for good reading, sort of pitting good versus evil. The evil prosecutor, complete with horns and a pitchfork, and the defender, like an angel swooping down to save an injustice. Of course, I’m embellishing here just a little, but what about injustices perpetrated by the very people sworn to uphold and defend justice, namely a district attorney?
In the Tyler, Texas, murder case Macy seemed so proud of, evidence was withheld by the prosecutor and only a theory on how the murders occurred, even though 12 witnesses testified the defendant was 300 miles away at the time of the murders. Prosecutors rely on the fact juries give more weight to testimony presented by the prosecution. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
Even when a federal judge threw the case out based in part on Macy’s actions during the case, Macy can’t admit he was wrong. Most prosecutors will vacuum their conscience by stating, “I just present the evidence, and let the jury make up its own mind.” I’m not sure the arrogance of Bob Macy can be measured.
Without a doubt, Bob Macy loved Joyce Gilchrist from a prosecutorial standpoint. What prosecutor wouldn’t love someone on their side, giving evidence to help win the case? The “Black Magic” of Gilchrist cemented Bob Macy’s place in history. There will always be a taint associated with her, and with Macy for relying so heavily on her testimony.
Regarding “Liberals wage culture war” written by K.A. Straughn of Norman (Letters, Dec. 22, 2010, Gazette):
I read this letter with interest and thought about it. Straughn wrote, “The Rev. Robin Meyers claims that in Oklahoma, ‘We’re passing laws to wage the culture war, and not to put people back to work or educate our kids’” (Greg Horton, “Is the religious left right?,” Dec. 8, 2010, Gazette).
Also included in the letter was a list of things, including same-sex marriage, adoption rights for homosexuals and non-enforcement of immigration laws that “society passes conservative legislation to defend itself against,” which Straughn claims will not create jobs and help educate kids.
Well, I thought about that, and in a very few minutes I realized that weddings are often job generators. Florists love them, as do live bands and caterers. Honeymoons generate income for restaurateurs and owners of hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast establishments. Airlines, railroads and gasoline stations could very well benefit in the honeymoon dollars generated. If people travel from out of town as they often do to attend nuptials, there are even more dollars generated.
Adoptions by adults who want to give a child a good home increase the state’s economy because children need food, clothes, shoes and to see doctors and dentists on a fairly regular basis. I suspect it even saves some tax dollars when kids are adopted rather than fostered. The kids even stand to benefit because there is something important about having a family of your own, love and a sense of belonging.
As for immigrants, they buy stuff to eat and wear, and they rent houses while they’re here. If they are counted when the census is taken, they even up the numbers that determine a state’s representation and federal share of dollars for such things as education.
When I thought about Straughn’s letter, I found I can make a case for Rev. Meyers’ statement that was quoted, but the conservative legislation to defend against gay marriage, gay adoption and to reduce the number of immigrants doesn’t seem as likely to increase jobs or kids’ education opportunities.
In his letter (“Government shouldn’t create equality,” Dec, 29 2010, Oklahoma Gazette) Thomas Furlong wrote “Socialists desire equality of the citizenry by government means. Why should government attempt to create equality? No government has ever achieved such a goal. If equality is desired, shouldn’t the individual address it himself?” OK, so instead of addressing issues of equality via a third party such as a court system or by petitioning as a group for a change in government policy, let’s say members of a minority group — like gay people — do what Mr. Furlong suggests.
That individually, hat in hand, they go to Sally Kern’s office, to the homes or offices of all the people who protested the City of Norman’s naming Oct 2010 as Gay History month, (the meeting after which Zach Harrington killed himself as a response to the spewed vitriol there) and to anyone else who actively discriminates against gays and asks them nicely and politely, “Please sir, or ma’am, may I have my relationship recognized, allowing my partner to be at my hospital bedside, making any needed medical decisions and inheriting my stuff if I die?” that equal rights would then be given?
Is Mr. Furlong seriously saying that no court system or government policy change is, or has ever been, needed to recognize minority equal rights?
A Fifht to save the Bully
Bullying is gaining in popularity these days. I wonder why. I am a former bully.
Bullying only lasts when you continue to bully a bully. I’m saying bullies need love, too. Most often, they have greater issues than the persons they bully.
One of my favorite movies is “The Breakfast Club.” This movie had pretty much every character you may find in school. The treatment of the bully in this movie was normal until the bully opened up about the abuse he suffered. When a person is acting out — whether bullying, deceiving, homosexuality — these are all symptoms of something deeper.
In society, we look at the outer appearance without looking at one’s heart. A person may be mean and surly, but how did they get that way?
Children aren’t born knowing how to act; they have to be taught.
Dysfunction comes in many forms, not just the poor. Before society goes beating up on the bully, ask him if he needs counseling, see if he needs a task force, maybe the bully needs someone beat up — not physically, but in a way that also changes the mind and heart of an individual. You can’t change a person doing to them what they’ve done; it will just become a game of tag.
—Robin D. Leake