Tuesday, October 30, 2007

About human rights...

The trial of Alexander Pichushkin was not really a contest of guilt or innocence because basically, they had evidence and he agreed with pleasure that he had in fact bashed in the heads of between 48 and sixty people after inviting them to drink with him in the park. So basically the purpose of the trial was to make a public display of the man's endeavor, to show that the state had in fact removed one of the most reprehensible human beings in history from the general population, and of course to show that they are a legal and fair country because they did in fact try the man and hadn't just shot him in the head (or cut him into pieces and fed him to pigs) when they finally caught him. The thing is though; Russia and especially its president are firmly against the death penalty which means that the most the prosecutor could ask for is that Pichushkin live out the rest of his life in prison. My question is though, in a country where a pensioner only gets maybe $250 a month, paying for the maintenance of a guy who towards the end didn't even bother hiding the bodies seems a little foolish. A pensioner might only last say, 10 years after retirement.

Pichushkin is only 30 or so and might live another 40 years. So really, don't you think in this case we all might really be better off just getting rid of the guy? You know, like with Saadam:

Slip the noose
Over your head
Open the hatch
Oops, you're dead!

A little while back I was contacted by Simon Shepherd of Death Watch International concerning Belarus' continued use of the death penalty. At the time there had been demonstrations in Europe specifically because Belarus was of the last remaining countries still to employ this penalty. My argument at the time was that I thought that the situation was more in tune with European antagonism against Belarus. I also opined that with cases such as with Mr. Pichushkin, because we obviously have a situation where it may be impossible to justify even paying for the maintenance of a man who not only has no righteous part to play in humanity, but had actively and even creatively worked against it; that there is no reason to pay for the continuation of this psychopath's life. Why shouldn't we fulfill a social obligation to those he murdered by simply ending him? Simon Shepherd's argument is that we are dealing with a situation where the only question is whether or not there is a continued danger to society. If the danger is removed by incarceration, then there is no longer a threat and therefore no need to kill. This argument of course doesn't account for the possibility of escape or the danger to fellow prisoners or guards- or to himself for that matter. The point is hat no state or a human court of law should have the right to take life; that civilization should be above this.

This is the question at hand and, I guess as Manson is also still alive and kicking, we all will have lots and lots of time to think about the situation.


The reason I am writing about this today is that I received several messages over the last while explaining to me that there are many who would not support my BEING HAD project because I was against human rights. My position taken against the removal of the death penalty was one instance, and this mixed with my insistence not to be a Belarusian oppositionist, or at least not to actively support the idea that Belarus has not the right to govern itself as it chooses, has meant to many people that I am either the enemy, a fool, or simply too stupid to know when to quit.

I have been thinking a lot lately about whether or not my image is actually one that is against the fight for human rights. It's a very knotty problem. I can see where on the outside the question actually might seem to have merit; because I am on the inside (I live in Belarus) the question therefore ties in to many areas of my personal life and beliefs. Also of course I write this way.

On my side though the thought is absurd. What the hell am I doing here but for showing what a lack of individual rights or freedoms can do? I am not only speaking specifically of Poland here, but also about my having to deal with an obtuse, corrupt and unfair Belarusian bureaucracy right now. Day in and day out I am facing an enormous amount of prejudice as well as a wholly egregious financial problem which is exactly connected to all of the above. But I am writing about these things, aren't I? No, I am not saying that all of this is inherently bad or good, but I am making the picture as best as I can. I do leave the answer open to interpretation but at the bottom line I am trying simply to say what I see and therefore it is a legitimate contribution to the real argument. Ok I agree it may not do much for the populist argument from this side or that, but it does add legitimate input to the argument as a whole and therefore should be seen as a contribution to freedoms of speech, expression and choice.

And really, if this is not human rights, what is it?

But yet I am getting attacked as if I am pro-fascism or something like this. Again, I can understand that if I am not a staunch, absolute supporter of the opposition, the song must go that I must be with the bad guys. Or, if I happen to believe that there are circumstances, like the Pichushkin case for example, where simply finishing with an unrepentant sociopath is much more inexpensive and satisfying, I am of course sent off for being a killer. I suppose even if I were to say that these sorts of popular protests seem to me to run in cycles and often have absolutely no connection to actual political relief that this would make me part of the problem rather than the solution.

So here is the question: Am I or am I not a human right's or even a pro-democracy guy?

I say I am. I say that in the end what I want for Belarus and for the whole world really, is that people should have the best possible chances for a decent life that is possible. I also believe that the systems which we create to funnel people towards their various righteous goals need to be fair and unbiased; the world in general should be merit and character based rather than under-the-table.
I also think the world needs to leave room for new ideas and I think there needs to be legitimate second and third chances for people who don't have all of the answers straight from the womb.

I don't necessarily believe in competition for competition's sake outside of sports but I do believe in a free though arbitrated market.

I also say that despite living in Belarus yes, I am in favor of accountability. I do not believe that anyone anywhere is above human law or justice. I also believe that humans are capable by design of doing the right thing (if given the chance) and that allowing for a greater extent of human responsibility might be the most important social reform humanity might ever make.

I further believe in small business over big, bikes over cars, sport before drugs, kindness before hate and friendship and mutuality before status. I believe in the conversation, agreement, plain talk and dealing with one issue at a time. I believe in being kind to our environment- this includes the air, the water, the land as well as the noise and the landscape.

I believe in conservation of resources. I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom to express one's political, personal or religious beliefs. I do believe in people's right to believe in G-d. I also however believe in the right not to believe. Actually, I believe in a human's inalienable right to follow any calling which precludes infringement on the rights of one's fellow man.

I believe in kindness, in reason, in fairness and in trust. I believe that there are real solutions to the problems and that they can be found if only we could agree to simply... try.

There is probably a lot more and no, you don't have to believe me. This of course is your right. But I don't think I have my head in the sand and I don't think I am fighting for the right or the wrong side. Frankly, I am not fighting, I am just trying to make the point that I believed in something once and thought it was worth checking out and that I had the right to do so. I still believe we all have the right to know the truth, don’t you? I mean, of course I am not sure I still believe in that project in the same way as in the beginning but as of the moment, I am still not actually convinced that I am ready to step off the horse. So because of all of this, I am going to put the Deathwatch banner up and people can click on it if they want. I myself would frankly much rather they hang Pichushkin up and then drop his carcass into the earth and have that be the end of the story. But I believe folks like Mr. Simon Shepherd have the right to have their say as well. We all do, right?

More soon…