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View Diary: McCain's Friend: "I'm Sorry For Saying To Shoot Cops in the Head. Shoot Them in the Groin Instead" (37 comments)

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  •  That's not true at all (2+ / 0-)
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    Menehune, NCrissieB

    the presumption of innocence is only valid in the court for the purposes of the courts.  

    It has absolutely no bearing on whether he committed the acts, or whether I consider him guilty of those acts.

    Ayers was involved with those bombings, and he is guilty of it.  He can't be tried for it, but that's a matter for the courts.

    •  That's all I meant when I said (0+ / 0-)

      That's all I meant when I said "He's far from innocent". Ayers does not deny involvement in the Weather Underground or its activities, so in my mind he has a lot on his conscience. I feel it is a bit misleading to readers to say he was found "not guilty" which implies to most people that he faced a jury which ruled in his favor. It is merely a suggestion that the language be clarified--lest any readers here go away thinking Ayers was found in a fairly-presented jury trial to have not done the acts he is accused of, instead of having had his case dismissed for misconduct.

    •  Sorry, but that's incorrect. (2+ / 0-)
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      Roadbed Guy, winterbanyan

      Our courts are how we as a society decide who is guilty and who is not, who is worthy of punishment and who must be treated as innocent.  That's why we have courts of law.  They're not a technicality.  They are how we resolve disputes among outselves without resorting to mob rule, vigilantism, and blood feuding.

      When the court finds a defendant guilty and sentences him to prison, you do that.  The court is acting for you.  That's why the case will be styled People vs. Defendant, or State vs. Defendant, or United States vs. Defendant.  That's you, huntsu.  That's all of us represented by the prosecution.

      When the prosecution can't meet that burden of proof, with evidence lawfully obtained and lawfully presented to the finder of fact, then the defendant remains innocent.  Not only in the eyes of the courts, but in the eyes and hearts of the people those courts represent.  That's you too, huntsu.  That's all of us represented by the prosecution.

      In "a nation of laws, not of men," you're not entitled to your own private judgment of guilt or innocence.  That's what "a nation of laws, not of men" means.  We are all, equally, bound to and by the law, and by the decisions of our courts.  If we are not, if we decide the courts are mere technical appendages that don't reflect society, then we are no different in attitude from Bush and others who ignore those laws and spy on us, render us, or torture us.  Why should they be more faithful to the law than you are?

      The investigators of the Weather Underground case violated the law.  Any evidence they collected was compromised by their having broken the law to get it.  Indeed, we cannot and should not trust evidence that is not lawfully obtained and lawfully presented to the finder of fact.  That's why we have the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.  They're not technicalities.  They are our protection against mob rule, vigilantism, and blood feuds ... even those perpetrated by the state itself.

      William Ayers is an innocent man.  He is entitled to that innocence, because the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt, with evidence lawfully obtained and lawfully presented to the finder of fact, that he committed any crime.  The case was United States v. William Ayers, et. al.  Unless you are not part of the United States, you were represented in that case.  And the United States - all of us, represented by the prosecution - could not prove his guilt.  You are not entitled to a contrary, independent judgment.

      In "a nation of laws, not of men," the United States - all of us, including you - must respect his presumption of innocence.

      •  No, I don't (0+ / 0-)

        William Ayers is guilty of participating in bombings.  He is not innocent.  I don't have to respect his innocence at all.

        I do respect the courts' presumption of innocence as a requirement to have fair trials and corrections.  I do not think that, when someone is found not guilty, that they should face another trial for the same offense or be put in jail or have the idea that they were guilty impact how the government treats them.

        But I am not the government.  I am a human being, and an American with the rights and freedoms associated with both.

        And as such I am certainly entitled to my own personal and separate judgment in the case.  As an American with First Amendment rights I can hold and express whatever judgment I have regarding his guilt.

        Presumption of innocence is wholly a function of our government and courts.  It has no impact on what I am allowed to think or say.

        •  Actually you can be held liable.... (1+ / 0-)
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          winterbanyan

          There's a law called "defamation," also known as slander, or libel.  It applies to many things one might say that cause damages by falsely undermining someone's reputation, but in most cases a plaintiff must prove those damages as part of the suit.  But there's an exceptional category where the plaintiff need not even prove actual damages as an element.

          That category?  Publicly and falsely accusing someone of a crime.

          If the person was charged for that crime and the charges were dismissed with prejudice or if the person were acquitted at trial, that legal finding is sufficient evidence to prove that the person did not commit the crime.

          The person does not need to bring further evidence that your accusation is false, because a crimninal defendant is as entitled to stand on the findings of a legal proceeding as would be the prosecution.

          William Ayers was charged with several crimes relating to the Weather Underground.  All of those charges were dismissed with prejudice, because the investigators broke the law in gathering evidence.  Therefore he is innocent, as a matter of law.

          The First Amendment does not give you a right to lie about people, and you are lying about William Ayers, as a matter of law.  That is defamation, and Mr. Ayers could sue you for that false accusation, were he so inclined.  Your claim of First Amendment protection would fail, because while Mr. Ayers is a limited public figure in this case, he need only prove "actual malice," that is: that you lied about him knowing that your statement is false, or with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.  And he could prove that easily, given the public record you yourself cite.

          Clear enough?

          •  Oh, give me a break. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know where you got your law degree, but you should sue them for breach of contract.

            Mr. Ayers admits that he participated in those bombings and was a founder of the Weatherman.

            He has published books under his own name admitting that he participated in those bombings and was a founder of the Weatherman.

            Therefore, no matter how many court cases he won it would be very hard to prove that I am defaming him by repeating things he claims are true.

            Clear enough?

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