Saturday, October 07, 2006

If you can afford aspirin, you can beat immigrants: Proposition 102

Proposition 102: Standing in Civil Actions

Neo-Nazi associate and general never-do-well Casey Nethercott became a martyr for the Radical Right when he lost his Douglas-area ranch, "Camp Thunderbird" in a civil matter last year.

As heard from the xenophobic set, all Nethercott and Ranch Rescue did was escort two Salvadoran trespassers off of Joseph Sutton's Texas ranch and give them cookies and blankets in the process, and for their trouble the government took Nethercott's ranch and gave it to the "illegals," I mean, the "ILLEGALS", proof that the liberal pinko commie conspiracy is here.

What's left out of that picture is that Ranch Rescue terrorized these two immigrants and held them captive, shooting bullets past them and siccing a Rottweiler on them in the process. Nethercott allegedly pistol-whipped Edwin Alfredo Mancia Gonzales during the assault. A jury deadlocked on that particular criminal charge, but Nethercott, along with Ranch Rescue leader Jack Foote, neither of whom bothered to defend themselves in court, were found liable for $850 M and $500 M, respectively, in damages. Sutton settled out of court for $100 M.

Nethercott had in the meantime secretly deeded his $120 M ranch to his sister in order to hide his assets; she transferred it to the immigrants in question without court compulsion.

Arizona's use-of-force laws allow you to defend yourself and others, but under no circumstances can you detain, pistol-whip, or assault trespassers. Punitive damages are just and protect our freedom; that you cannot maliciously violate somebody's rights and merely pay for the band-aids or the hospital bill is a longstanding principle of our law preventing those who wish us ill from reducing the question of whether or not to violate our fundamental individual liberty to a cost-benefit analysis. If you beat an immigrant, be prepared to pay for the wrong you committed and not just the ice pack and ibuprofen.

In order to immunize the likes of Nethercott, Foote, and Roger Barnett from justice--to give the multiplying swarms of racists and xenophobes in the state free reign to abuse people as long as they pay for the band-aids--arch-bigot legislator Russell Pearce and others hijacked a great home-defense bill (striking it in the process) to propose an amendment adding a section to the Arizona Constitution denying undocumented migrants punitive damages.

Support for this is ironic, given that it's the right wing, refusing to make the conceptual distinction between ethical and legal rights, that usually says people have certain rights irrespective of what the law says. It's as though the ethical imperatives which underlie the concept of punitive damages go away if one doesn't have the right visa.

Also worth noting is that this would put undocumented immigrants even more at the mercy of their employers, since punitive damages for negligence will be out of the question.

What kind of State would we be, if we amended our Constitution to, instead of protecting every individual on every inch of Arizona land, protect only US Citizens or folks with the right visas? And what kind of mess would we be in if the scum of society start wronging folks who seem too Mexican because they think they can get away with it? Given Prop. 200's success in 2004 and the rise in xenophobia since, I have a feeling that this embarassment to the state will pass. Fortunately, the same 5th Amendment and Federal criminal protections which might stop Prop. 100 from being enforced are even more likely to be a check on this one.

As a libertarian, which is just a $10 word for free-market liberal, and someone who believes in human rights, I can't support anything that further subjugates undocumented immigrants to their employers or gives Roger Barnett types free reign to harm them, just because they don't have a government permission slip.

Aside: I challenge anyone who thinks they have a solid, bona fide libertarian argument in favor of this measure to an exchange of articles, one constructive piece and one rebuttal each. If I find it intellectually satisfying, three tacos al pastor are yours.

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