Explaining the U.N. panel's findings on Guantanamo Bay.

Explaining the U.N. panel's findings on Guantanamo Bay.

Explaining the U.N. panel's findings on Guantanamo Bay.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 19 2006 7:15 PM

Putting Gitmo out of Its Misery

An overwhelming number of bloggers wince over a recent U.N. report on Gitmo and reported attempted suicides there. They also express mixed feelings about English as the national language and could not care less if Elvis ate Jimmy Hoffa in Roswell, or whatever.

Putting Gitmo out of its misery: Citing massive human rights violations, a U.N. panel advocated Friday that the Guantanamo Bay detention center be closed. The panel's final report arrived with the news of a melee on Thursday over increased suicide attempts—and their prevention by guards—among detainees.

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Anti-Bush blogger Robert Silvey at Rubicon worries about the grim company in which this report places the United States: "These indictments of the US government are couched in language typically used for rogue states that have little tradition of honest jurisprudence and no moral standing in the international community, states like North Korea or Uzbekistan or preinvasion Iraq. When will the United States rejoin the community of civilized nations? Probably not until George Bush is removed from office." Ohio native "Gratis" at the liberal Gray Does Matter is equally alarmed: "How can we rightly charge someone with war crimes, when we've basically nullified the treaty that gives us that right?"

Lenin at the Bolshevik-nostalgic Lenin's Tomb writes: "The US has supplied the motive in abundance, and the response of many detainees is to attempt slow, agonising suicide. The message is that they are being held by such an inhuman, savage state that they'd rather die than continue in captivity."

But at the righty Elephants in Academia, an alternative explanation is aired for the late spate of suicide attempts: "Guantanamo inmates commit suicide because they are wired to do so. They've been trained to use their own deaths as a weapon and are eager to die in a manner that will do harm to the US, an end that victimizing themselves at Guantanamo achieves. Is it a coincidence that 10% of the attempts have occurred over the course of the last 48 hours in the lead-up to the most recent United Nations call for the US to close the facility because its cruel conditions violate prisoners' human rights?"

At Cake or Death John Temecula, a Californian working in finance,  suggests that not passively abiding by inmate self-snuffing is itself a testament to humane conditions at the complex: "So our guards are fighting with the prisoners to save the prisoners' lives ... What kind of f*cked up world are we living in where that makes a prison inhumane and deserving of being shut down?"

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Read more about the Gitmo censure.

Tongue ties: The Senate voted yesterday to make English the national language of the United States, doing nothing to impinge on pre-existing laws guaranteeing multilingual government services. The Republican-contrived measure is seen as merely "symbolic" to advance the assimilation of immigrants into mainstream American culture. Its approval was immediately followed by the passage of a Democratic amendment pushing for more or less the same thing.

California Conservative is appalled that anyone would equate the amendment with racism: "The majority of Americans overwhelmingly want genuine reform, curbing immigration (both illegal and legal), and they also want to recognize a national language. … But the time has come for accountability: the melting pot is now boiling." Don't pull the r-word on conservative James Joyner at Outside The Belway, either: "For one thing, the vast number of Spanish speakers are caucasian. Moreover, encouraging people to speak the language that will help them integrate and prosper in our society is hardly the equivalent of forcing them to the back of the bus; quite the opposite, in fact."

Former Republican Jazz Shaw, posting at the lefty blog Middle Earth Journal, thinks "that part of the process of cultural assimilation is to learn the language, laws and customs of your new home and make some effort to blend in. …[F]or conducting the day to day business of citizens interacting with their government, having a standardized platform is a good thing."

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"The problem with nitpicking over whether a particular piece of legislation makes English 'official' is that being 'official' has no well-defined meaning," says University of Pennsylvania linguist Bill Poser at Language Log. "Some countries make a distinction in their legislation. For example, Switzerland has three 'official' languages (French, German, and Italian) but four 'national' languages (the foregoing plus Romantsch)."

Read more about the English initiative.

Any day now: Pursuing the best tip they've received since the last one, the FBI searched a Michigan farmhouse Wednesday for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. 

It's all a big-time boondoggle for G-men, according to right-leaning TigerHawk: "May I suggest … that deploying 'dozens of agents' for a 'multi-week dig' in central Michigan to find a few of Jimmy Hoffa's old bones might just possibly be an enormous waste of money and time?"

That it is, since Slate contributor Lee Siegel killed Hoffa. From his perch at the New Republic, the critic explains how, as a young amateur boxer, he had befriended and distracted the son of one of the men indicted for conspiracy in Hoffa's disappearance: "So, you see, if it hadn't been for Tommy's gullible left arm, and my defective mask, and the friendship between us that ensued that afternoon, Tommy would have made it home in time for dinner, and his father would not have been enraged. Maybe if Tommy's dad had been in better spirits, like his good-natured son, he wouldn't have been in the mood for murder. I never hit the kid once. And I still feel guilty."

Read more about the ongoing Hoffa dig.