Thursday, May 21, 2009

Of Terrorists, Detainees, And Super Criminals!


As an adolescent I loved reading comics (especially superhero comics). The stories pretty much went as follows: 1) Super criminal commits a "super" crime; 2) Superhero fights super criminal; 3) superhero beats super criminal; 4) Super criminal goes to jail (or dies); and 5) Super criminal busts out of jail (or comes back from the dead) to start the "fun" all over again. Super hero comics rarely deviated from that formula, but for me the fun wasn't about knowing what would happen in the end, but about the "journey". This particular post however is not so much about the stories found in super hero comics as it is about the particular aspect of superhero comics. That aspect is detention of super criminals in those comics and how it does not correlate to the detention of (possible) criminals in the real world.

In times past (golden age of comics), when a superhero like Superman caught a bad guy like Lex Luthor, he'd hand him over to the authorities to be hauled off to prison. A criminal like Lex Luthor would then break out of prison because those prisons were not able to properly handle said criminal. As time progressed, comic publishers began to realize that "Hey, these guys are super criminals and regular prisons! WTF!?” The thinking was that since these villains were so beyond the normal order of criminal that regular prisons couldn't possibly hold them for long. So then the concept of Super Prisons came into play. These prisons were often of shore and fitted with the latest futuristic comic book) technology capable of properly dealing with these villains and their powers/abilities.


In comics these places are necessary because the world portrayed in those comics had villains who could fly, move cities with their minds, build dooms day weapons, etc. This is not the case in the real world. In the real world, there are no "super" criminals that can not be contained by normal (maximum security) prisons. In the real world, terrorist (or GITMO detainee) does not equal super criminal. Are terrorist deranged zealots with little regard for human life (even their own)? Yes! Are they super humans or super geniuses, just waiting for a chance to get sent to a normal prison only to bust out and wreak havoc on our fragile population? NO! Let me say that again...NOOOOOOO! Sending these guys to our prisons (after a proper display of due process of course), will do no more damage to our national security than say Charles Manson (serving a life term), John Gotti (died serving a life term), or even Zacarias Moussaoui (serving a life term). Knowing that, I am not worried about prisoners in GITMO being prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced within the boarders of the United States.

Am I supposed to be mortally afraid of this guy being in a supermax prison in my back yard? I mean he doesn't even have a mask seared onto his face or a purple helmet meant to thwart telepathic intrusions. What's so scary about this guy? Nothing!

I'd like to think that the majority of my fellow Americans are as discerning as I am on this issue, but it appears that this is not the case (if we go by what the Senate has done this week). I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, seeing as how people started walking around in surgical masks in PUBLIC, in response to the Swine Flu scare. A popular saying (via twitter and other soc-net-sites) during that time was "People will wear masks so they won't catch the flu, but won't wear condoms so they won't get AIDS!" I agree with the sentiment of that statement. We tend to favor jumping at shadows instead of concentrating on real threats. But that’s what fear does to us, it makes us incapable of putting things in perspective and sometimes as a result we say and do things that in hindsight would be regarded as foolish.

We have the tendency to get frightened into absurdity and the belief that among the detainees in GITMO, there is a villain of the caliber of Dr. Doom or Magneto is beyond ridiculous. If we really stop and think about what kind of prisons America has along with the type of prisoners housed in them, we will realize how ridiculous the "Not in my backyard!" argument is. The truth is that those detained in GITMO are no more dangerous than the rapists, murderers, pedophiles, gang members, and yes terrorists in our prisons within the boarders of this country.

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