Friday, February 23, 2007

Paul Campos Responds to Glenn Reynolds

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Paul Campos has a must-read response to Glenn Reynolds. It's at Glenn Greenwald's blog, at Salon. Here are some highlights:

As for Reynolds' claim that killing scientists wouldn't be murder because it's only against the law until the law is changed, what can one say? Lawyers' claims to find a statement shocking often sound a lot like Capt. Renault claiming to be shocked to discover there's gambling in Casablanca, but I'm not saying this rhetorically: It's shocking that a professor of law would dare make such a despicable argument in print. In fact assassinations are currently prohibited by law -- something Reynolds cannot of course dispute -- and the law would have to be changed before what Reynolds says our government should be doing at the present moment could even arguably begin to be considered legal.

Sensing, perhaps, that he's saying something too ridiculous for his audience to swallow, Reynolds starts arguing in the alternative, by claiming that assassinating research scientists isn't really assassination. His basis for this is the argument that when research scientists are present at legitimate military targets, their deaths from lawful military attacks on those targets aren't assassinations. ... Remember, Reynolds argued originally that we should be "quietly" terminating research scientists with extreme prejudice, and that this was preferable to, for example, bombing Iranian military installations. Yet the examples he gives of the legitimate killing of scientists all require precisely the course of action he claims his assassination scheme is designed to prevent.
That war is sometimes necessary doesn't make it any less hideous. Yet it's made even more hideous when nations make no effort to comply with the laws of war. Assassinating a research scientist is no more permissible under the laws of war than shaking the hand of an off-duty out-of-uniform soldier having a meal in a restaurant, hundreds of miles from a battlefield, and then shooting him in the head.

None of this has even touched on the fact that Reynolds' central claims, upon which his whole argument hinges, are false. The United States isn't at war with Iran, and the Iranian regime has never threatened to use nuclear weapons against our nation. My column emphasized these points, and in doing so essentially called Reynolds a liar. Yet he hasn't even bothered to try to refute that charge -- for the simple reason that he can't.

And Glenn (Greenwald) adds an essential point:

As much as the extreme barbarism and amorality which lies at the heart of Reynolds' call for assassination of Iranian scientists and clerics, it was the sheer dishonesty of his subsequent self-defense that prompted so much commentary. When defending himself from objections to his post (from me and others, none of whom he linked to despite complaining about Campos' failure to link to his argument), Reynolds just asserted factually false claims, and -- despite how unusual it is to see among law professors -- Professor Campos expressly made clear what Reynolds was doing when defending himself: namely, "lying."

Yet in all of his insulting responses to Professor Campos, Reynolds never addressed those charges, because there simply is no response. Then again, that accusation has been made about Reynolds so many times in the past that he may just not even notice it anymore when someone accuses him of dishonesty.

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