Never Give Up

Sometimes it is hard to keep faith in the world when you see so much of it is falling apart.  But still we keep on going, never giving up on the future or the world - because when we give up, we lose hope.  It is not our hope we are getting rid of, it is the hope we have taken from the future.  Think not of how your actions will impact your own life; think of how your actions may help others in the world today and tomorrow.  For what are we, but the legacy we live behind us when we go?  Nameless or not, our actions outlive our memories.

Never give up, never give in, never surrender.

Remembering Seamus Heaney | Amnesty's global human rights blog

May he rest in peace.  Seamus Heaney, you were a great man and did great things for this world.  Thank you.

Remembering Seamus Heaney | Amnesty's global human rights blog:

'via Blog this'

Bradley Manning

The Bradley Manning trial has been going on for months.  Last month he was convicted of the charges, and today - 21 August 2013 - Manning officially was sentenced to 35 years in prison.  The maximum sentence was 90 years in prison; the prosecution called for 60 years.  As expected, the defense requested clemency and emphasized the stress of the job, etc.  In the end, the judge settled for 35 years in prison and some other little things like money and dishonourable discharge.

At first, I was fine with this sentence.  After all, Bradley Manning committed a crime and was given a punishment according to the rules.  As a law student I have faith in the law and see that when you start to make exceptions to the legal system, it will lose credibility, and eventually fall apart.  Is it fair?  No, really it is not and I am not naive enough to think otherwise.

A little bit of research has yielded this about US criminal sentencing:

  • if a Class A felony, the duration of the defendant's life
  • if a Class B felony, not more than 25 years
  • if a Class C felony, not more than 12 years
  • if a Class D felony, not more than 6 years
  • if a Class E felony, not more than 3 years
Bradley Manning was convicted of espionage and other charges regarding his leaking of classified information to WikiLeaks.  He did not kill anyone.  He was given 35 years in prison.  Because he was a soldier I do expect the sentence he received to be harsher than if he was a civilian.  Military law is separate for a reason, and members of the armed forces are held to a different code of conduct than the rest of us.  But let us pretend for a moment Manning was a civilian and compare his sentencing to civilian sentencing.  According to my research, only a Class A felony would result in a sentence longer than 25 years imprisonment.  What is a Class A felony, you may wonder?  A first-degree murder.  Second-degree murder would only get one sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Let me once again emphasize that Manning did not kill anyone.  No one died as a result of his actions.  He only wanted to expose human rights violations and other atrocities happening in the war.  His intentions are laudable, but his methods I cannot condone.  As stated, I have to hold fast to a certain amount of belief in the system or my entire existence will fail.  Also, he released diplomatic material and that stuff is supposed to be sacrosanct.

My personal views on what Bradley Manning should or should not have done aside, let us discuss his sentence.  The maximum available was 90 years.  The prosecution wanted 60 years.  He got 35 years.  Compared to what he could have gotten and what the prosecution wanted for him, 35 years really is not a lot.  But compared to civilian sentencing, 35 years is a bloody long time!  Now, Amnesty is calling for US President Obama to commute Manning's sentence to time served.  This would amount to about 3 years, including over 100 days the judge deemed "unlawful detention."  35 to 3 sounds like a huge drop, even giving consideration to his motives.  Now, comparison again.  If Manning was a civilian, 3 years would seem like a decent sentence.  After all, if he was a civilian he would have to murder someone to get the kind of sentence he got.

So is it fair to demand President Obama commute Bradley Manning's sentence?  If I were to poll to public there would be a lot of very emphatic responses for both sides; the sentiment on this issue is very polarized.  Some feel Manning is a hero for what he exposed, others view him as a traitor for exposing military secrets.  In my opinion, it is of far more importance the horrific crimes Manning exposed are investigated and the individuals involved brought to justice.  If you think 35 years is a decent sentence for sharing these secrets, I expect life imprisonment or a call for the death penalty for these individuals.  Will this happen?  Probably not.  Will Manning's sentence be commuted?  Of course not.  Already it is considered very lenient.  Should people raise a hue and cry and put pressure on the government to act?  Most definitely.

Bradley Manning should not be given a longer prison sentence than murderers and rapists.  End of story.

Baby Steps of Acceptance

Baby steps are great - if you're a baby.  Seeing as how we are adults, we need to take bigger steps and move at a faster pace towards accepting non-binary individuals into society at large.