Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Defending the Boston Massacre- when "due process" hurts

I am going to put two closely-related posts back-to-back here, both of which make me vaguely ill about the way the 1/6 Riots are being handled. I will reiterate here that I have little problem with people being charged with appropriate crimes for rioting and, upon a fair conviction, punished-- as long as process is received as due and enforcement is even-handed: rioting is against the law, and it ought not change according to the people doing the rioting.

As this article mentions and I have discussed before, John Adams set the standard for due process in our fledgling nation when he personally took on the defense of British soldiers from the Boston Massacre because no one else would and he believed strongly in fair process: even (perhaps especially for) for an enemy. This is why a team of lawyers in the ACLU is called the "John Adams Group". This group, among many others, provided representation, usually pro bono, for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay accused of collaborating with terrorists generally and with the plotters of 9/11 particularly, in short, of being conspirators in mass murder on a historical scale.

This was a good thing. If you doubt that, pick up a copy of David Cole's and James Dempsey's "Terrorism and the Constitution" (@FIXME: link) to see documentation of a constant stream of missteps and abuse in handling terrorism cases in our history generally and the "War on Terror" specifically. Or watch the recent film, "The Mauritanian", or download a free copy of the guy's hand-written manuscript that he wrote in his years at Gitmo (@FIXME: add link). These people needed fair representation, no matter what they were accused of (some still do @FIXME: link). I have defended and advocated for this in the past and have caught a great deal of flak for it here and there. I fully supported activists on the Left fighting for these causes, even as we disagreed on other policy issues. This is why I strongly support certain left-leaning people like David Cole and Glenn Greenwald in the first place. I believe strongly enough in what thry do that I would willingly place my body between them and danger if it came to that.

Sometimes the issues are more personal. Our local unit was called up by the Sheriff's Office a few years ago for a manhunt. A prisoner had escaped custody during transfer, injuring a deputy from another county. He was on the run somewhere in Mount Vernon. We had volunteers in the field in six minutes from the first text alert, including myself. I was out there with a flashlight paired up with a volunteer who later became mayor. But this wasn't just any escaped prisoner. This was the man accused of the brutal murder of a friend of ours, a disabled gentlemen who grew plants for the farmer's market and sold them in the booth next to ours. I had... 'feelings'... about that, but they didn't matter. My job out there was not to convict or punish the guy, just to help locate and recapture him so that +someone else+ could decide those issues a touch more objectively. In the end, he was caught (not by us). My wife and I saw him dragged back to the jail (she at the time, had not yet realized just who it was we were after-- whose murder he was accused of). It was not that I was not angry over what happened or that some part of me didn't want an opportunity to hurt him, merely that my commitment to a fair process, the honor of the uniform I was wearing (little as that honor might be!), was greater than my need for retribution. It is the same for people accused of terrorism or, even, say, of the person who shot up my school so long ago and is still in prison.

So... how is the 1/6 riot being treated by these modern successors of John Adams? Not at all. As the link below describes, none of the law firms who were so eager to help (accused) global terrorists are interested in helping people held in unconscionable conditions accused of trespass or "interference with an official proceeding" (none are charged with insurrection, treason, or terrorism, but we'll get to that in the next post). None of the prominent political figures who provided attorneys or bail money for Antifa or BLM rioters are rushing to the aid of 1/6 detainees. In fact, the left has been interfering with people who are trying to help: shutting down donation pages, harrassing attorneys, or calling for investigation into those who donate or offer services. Many of the same people who shouted "Defund the Police!" are taking federal agents at their word, voting to expand the Capitol Police budget by $2 billion and expand its jurisdiction nationwide, taking a rather incomplete and puzzlingly-contradictory report on a officer-involved-shooting at face value, attacking people who ask questions about the shoot/no-shoot decision.

There are a few stalwarts, people who feel it is right to care about due process with accused Muslim terrorists AND 1/6 rioters, or who support (peaceful) free speech and assembly whether it is BLM, Antifa, or Trump supporters, who want all officer-involved deaths explained. They asked questions about police use-of-force with George Floyd and Ashli Babbitt. They are withstanding hate and vitriol from politicians, media, ordinary people for doing so. Again, that is why I continue to support them.


(Next post, involving the apparently very real conspiracy to breach the US Capitol, in a bit.)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Smallpox Variolation in 17th Century Turkey and It's Introduction In England

Reading more of the 18th century "Commonplace Book of William Byrd of Westover", came upon this interesting item regarding the history of inoculation:

<<...of ingrafting or inoculateing the small[pox was fir]st brought out of the northern part of Ne[. . .]a into Turky, where it has now been in [use] about 70 years. At first they kept a Register [at Con]stantinople of all Persons who under went Inoculation, and out of all that number, there was only one old woman miscarryd by being very disorderly and ungovernable, and now this practice is grown so universal in Turky, that they have left off keeping any Register of them.>> https://www.scribd.com/book/322769715

The page in Byrd's notebook is damaged and the entry is unsourced, but, as Byrd wrote this likely in the 1720s (and the source may be a bit older), this would put variolation in Turkey in the mid-17th century and in "Ne[...]a" earlier than that.

It turns out that variolation was brought out of Turkey by a Lady Mary Wortley Montague after her travels there from 1716-1718. Byrd was an avid reader of travel narratives and may have read of the procedure from her accounts. On her return to London she demonstrated the process by having one of her children inoculated in the presence of the royal court.

<<The English aristocrat and writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) is today remembered particularly for her letters from Turkey, an early example of a secular work by a Western woman about the Muslim Orient. When Lady Mary was in the Ottoman Empire, she discovered the local practice of variolation, the inoculation against smallpox. Unlike Jenner's later vaccination, which used cowpox, variolation used a small measure of smallpox itself. Lady Mary, who had suffered from the disease, encouraged her own children to be inoculated while in Turkey. On her return to London, she enthusiastically promoted the procedure...>> but its spread was limited to high society for some time. ( https://muslimheritage.com/lady-montagu-smallpox-inoculation-england/ )

It is also likely that Byrd read about it in reports to the Royal Society of London, published in the society journal. Byrd was a member of the Royal Society when he was in London and later corresponded with it in Virginia.

<<Variolation was also practiced throughout the latter half of the 17th century in Turkey, Persia, and Africa. In 1714 and 1716, two reports of the Turkish method of inoculation were made to the Royal Society in England...>> (ibid)

This history is drscribed in more detail in a 2007 piece, "The introduction of variolation 'A La Turca' to the West by Lady Mary Mantagu and Turkey's contribution to this" published in "Vaccine" (abstract: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X07002770 ; PDF: https://www.academia.edu/12549034/The_introduction_of_variolation_A_La_Turca_to_the_West_by_Lady_Mary_Montagu_and_Turkeys_contribution_to_this ).

The struggle in variolation was to reliably cause enough of an infection to generate lasting immunity without causing full-blown smallpox or causing a local outbreak. Some 18th century practitioners were extremely good at this, others less so. Abigail Adam's, who, like Lady Montagu, made sure her family was inoculated, describes recovering from the process in a 1776 letter. The eventual replacement of smallpox variolation with cowpox "vaccination" largely solved this problem.