Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guantanamo Bay and Justice

The theme of this unit encompasses the law, human rights and the concept of justice. The reason why we begin with Guantanamo Bay is because, as of right now, there isn't necessarily a universal set of laws that govern the area, and thus the concept of "justice" for the area is open to debate. And has it been debated...

Guantanamo, as we discussed in class today, is an incredibly unique place. U.S. laws don't really apply to the prisoners there, but the area is nonetheless under the control of the U.S. government. As such, questions abound about what, exactly, are the rights of the people imprisoned there.

What I really would like you to think about this unit is what the term "justice" really means: Is it a universal set of rights every has? What happens if justice for me equals an injustice for you? What is the best way to determine justice in a large society, when contrasting ideas of what is (and is not) justice contradict one another? Every event discussed in this unit should raise these questions for you.

But back to Guantanamo. You should, at this point, be researching the debate that we will be having next week. In doing so, you are really researching differing ideas about justice. That is, do the rights of the imprisoned to a fair trial and evaluation of the evidence against them outweigh the possible safety benefits for thousands of Americans if they remain imprisoned? Is justice the same for everyone?

The questions raised here are questions you should ask about every event we study throughout this unit. In doing so, it should lead you to understand better the evolution of what we know now to be justice, because (as I mentioned in D period today), the idea of human rights is a very new concept in the history of the world.