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Book cover for Eyal Press' 'Beautiful Souls'
Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times
By Eyal Press
Publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Picador
Hardcover: $24.00, Paperback: $15.00, Kindle edition: $8.89
Hardcover release, February 2012; Paperback release, February 2013
208 pages
This is a book about … nonconformists, about the mystery of what impels people to do something risky and transgressive when thrust into a morally compromising situation: stop, say no, resist.
In light of the debate raging around hero/villain Edward Snowden, it seems like a good time to look at Beautiful Souls, originally published as a hardback in 2012, re-issued in paperback earlier this year. In it, author Eyal Press profiles several system resisters, a couple of them whistleblowers, a couple of them people who just decided to say "no" in no uncertain terms at times when a huge majority of their people were saying "yes." In Beautiful Souls, Press seeks to find common denominators—character traits, triggering situations, prerequisite conditions—that triggers nonconformists to take risky stands, ones that for the most part make them pariahs to their surrounding society.

Make the acquaintance of the cast of characters in Beautiful Soul beneath the fold:

  • Paul Gruninger, commander of the state police in St. Gallen in northeast Switzerland, who during World War II let numerous Jewish refugees into his country against the law. Gruninger was stripped of his job, his reputation was trashed, and it's only now, more than half a century after the fact, that his town is beginning to acknowledge and honor him. During his lifetime, he was a pariah. His chapter is entitled "Disobeying the Law."
  • Aleksander Jevtic, a Serb swept up in a round-up of Croats in his small home town in northern Serbia. Since he was a hometown guy, the Serbs asked him to separate the Croats from his fellow Serbs so the enemy could be identified and detained (and presumably killed). Moving slowly through the decrepit cowshed where they were huddled, he slowly began—he'd pick out a Serb, another Serb, another Serb …. and then a Croat, whom he would stare at forcefully and give a new (Serbian) name. He did this repeatedly, saving as many Croats alongside Serbs as he could. After the war, few hometown Croats thanked him or acknowledged the risk he'd run in saving their lives. His chapter is entitled "Defying the Group."
  • Avner Wishnitzer, an Israeli born on a kibbutz, who enters the ranks of Sayeret Matkal, the most elite commando unit in the  Israeli Defense Force, for his mandatory military service. After he was discharged after three-and-a-half years of service, he joined a civilian convoy on a mission to deliver blankets to Palestinian farmers in the West Bank because his conscience had been pricked by a documentary he'd seen regarding Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Upon arriving at a checkpoint where Israeli police told the group to turn back because they were breaking the law, he and others in the group defied the orders. He'd never served in the occupied territory; indeed, he'd never spoken directly to a Palestinian. But his anger over Israeli treatment of them bubbled over, and even though he still performed regular service in the reserve unit of Sayeret Matkal, his awakened conscience led him to join with a few other reservists in his unit to take a very public, and risky stand: they signed a letter proclaiming they would refuse to ever serve if called upon in the occupied territories. Needless to say, he met quite a bit of public shaming. His chapter is entitled "The Rules of Conscience."
  • Leyla Wydler, a financial advisor with Stanford Group Company, part of Stanford Financial Group and brainchild of prominent financier Allen Stanford, who was charged with "massive ongoing fraud" for swindling investors out of billions of dollars. Wydler was the whistleblower who alerted the SEC (several times, actually, which they chose to ignore) and other regulators of the Ponzi scheme. Her testimony earned the enmity of her fellow former financial advisors, and she could not find work in her chosen field after her whistleblowing. A single mother, she risked much—Stanford fined her for "breaking her contract"—and today she works … in real estate. Her chapter is entitled "The Price of Raising One's Voice."

There are no statues erected in their honor (although 60 years after the fact, Gruninger finally received a plaque on his grave). There are no proclamations, laurels or monuments in their name. They are, if not despised, then ignored. Indeed, some are still thought of by their former fellow workers or "tribe" members as traitors to their cause. As author Press puts it:

To judge by the sanctimonious tributes made to those who "confront evil" in places like Rwanda or by Time magazine's tribute to whistleblowers who spoke out about accounting fraud in the United States, we live in a world where overcoming passivity and acquiescence is seen as honorable. In reality, we all know that doing so is risky and dangerous, not least because there is precious little agreement about where the line between duty and conscience should be drawn. Around torture, which much of the world officially banned centuries ago? Not according to those who vilified the handful of dissenters who challenged the abusive interrogation policies that were institutionalized during the Bush era. Around concocting clever ways to defraud people of their savings? Not according to the traders on Wall Street who did exactly that and profited, without pausing to apologize, during the period that preceded the 2008 financial crash (and who were not asked to apologize by politicians who proceeded to weaken or scuttle efforts to regulate their industry afterward). What about stealing people's land? Not according to Jewish settlers in the West Bank, who see this as a fulfillment of God's plan. Even people who do regard these things as unconscionable might find it unnerving to see a soldier, a public official, or a colleague at work take an uncompromising stand on the matter. For if we agree that something blatantly wrong is happening, shouldn't we be taking a similar stand? Do we really want to be reminded of the compromise we've made?
Those who dare to take a stand, Press claims, really only have one thing in common in the end: they're idealists (some would even say, naive idealists), true believers. Gruninger honestly believed Switzerland was a kind, neutral, compassionate and freedom-loving country; he thought he was upholding the values of his nation when he let in refugees, despite the law. Jevtic truly believed his fellow townsmen would have done the same rescuing in the name of shared history and humanity. Wishnitzer truly believed that Israelis, as a persecuted people with a horrendously victimized past, would refuse to act as persecutor of others. Wydler truly believed in the principles and ethics her chosen profession claimed to hold dear—that serving the interests of clients came first, not lining their own pockets.

All learned the hard way that for the most part, they stood alone or with a very small and often reviled minority.

And the Wishnitzer chapter in particular raises a question that seems unanswerable: How does one judge the "true believer" who holds beliefs in direct opposition to other "true believers"? In Israel's case, there are true righteous believers on both sides—IDF members who refuse to participate in the eviction of Palestinians on the West Bank … and IDF members who are devout Zionists who refuse to comply with orders from the Israeli government to evict Jewish settlers who are squatting in recognized Palestinian territory. Both fervently believe in their cause. Both types are willing to accept the punishment for refusal.

The closest author Press comes to teasing out the differences in cases like this, is to resort to a thought experiment in empathy:

Measured by depth and sincerity of conviction, perhaps there wasn't much difference between left- and right-wing refuseniks in the Israeli army. Measured by moral content, there clearly was. One way to draw it out, it seemed to me, was by applying the standard Adam Smith might have proposed, assessing the ability—or inability—of those saying no to stretch their moral imaginations by putting themselves in the shoes of people who were suffering and extending sympathy to them.
In Press' mind, the resistors like Wishnitzer were refusing to evict out of empathy, but they weren't dehumanizing those who didn't agree with them. In the case of the Zionist refuseniks, most of them resorted to justifying Israeli occupation by vilifying the Palestinians as vermin or worse. This strikes me as a very difficult standard with which to draw a distinction, although a handier one for this thorny predicament does not leap to mind.

And with Edward Snowden in the news, it's interesting to discuss what society should do with these true believers and which category he falls into. Is Snowden in the same class as the "beautiful souls" author Press discusses in his book? I took the opportunity this past week to ask Press his opinion of Snowden and if he too typified the nonconformist resistor he's studied. As you can tell from his response, he is at least slightly puzzled about one aspect of the whistleblower:

With the obvious caveat that there is a lot we don't know about Snowden, there are some parallels to the people I wrote about.  Like them, he appears to have started out full of idealism—volunteering to fight in Iraq—only to grow bitterly disillusioned.  This is often the trajectory whistleblowers follow.  And like them, he appears to have been motivated by one thing: his conscience.  I'm a bit puzzled why someone so fiercely committed to privacy ever went to work for the intelligence community in the first place, but I suppose we'll learn more about that in due time.
How should society deal with inconvenient truth-tellers and those who act out of moral conscience? And how do we as individuals judge the rightness or wrongness of another's actions? Should we make more of an effort to honor these "beautiful souls?" Or do we hold back, learn more, let history sort it out?

These questions are not easy, nor are they painless. As Press says:

Inevitably, then, displays of moral courage sow discord and make a lot of people uncomfortable—most of all, perhaps, the true believer who never wanted or expected to say no. It is never easy to incur the wrath of an offended majority, to "fall out of step with one's tribe," observed Susan Sontag. And it's true: no one finds this painless. But it's considerably harder for insiders who've spent their lives fiercely identifying with the values of the majority than for dissenters accustomed to being on the margins, with their like-minded comrades by their side.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Snowden himself says he is neither hero nor (19+ / 0-)

    traitor, and for that alone I think he is a beautiful soul.  

    Thanks for this.  Would be interested in reading this.  We have a free stopover in Zurich on our air miles tickets to Africa later this year are going to stay with Swiss friends .  Would love to get their take on this....

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:09:06 PM PDT

  •  I'm lazy, I use the categorical imperative... (11+ / 0-)
    And the Wishnitzer chapter in particular raises a question that seems unanswerable: How does one judge the "true believer" who holds beliefs in direct opposition to other "true believers"? In Israel's case, there are true righteous believers on both sides—IDF members who refuse to participate in the eviction of Palestinians on the West Bank … and IDF members who are devout Zionists who refuse to comply with orders from the Israeli government to evict Jewish settlers who are squatting in recognized Palestinian territory. Both fervently believe in their cause. Both types are willing to accept the punishment for refusal.
    If everyone in Snowden's shoes were to do what he's done, the world would be a better place. Not a more dangerous or unjust one. And I realize that is a superficial reading of Kant, but I just told you I'm lazy.
  •  sorry but comparing Snowden to any of them (5+ / 0-)

    is insulting.

    If at the end of this it is shown that Snowden has exposed a massive illegal and intrustive operation then maybe he will deserve a chapter in that book.

    But right now Snowden to me looks like a Paulite/Naderite who childishly has put his own fame and ego over our security.

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:16:08 PM PDT

    •  Ralph Nader has done more for this nation than... (10+ / 0-)

      almost the entire Senate democratic caucus combined.
      I'm mad at him for Bush v. Gore as well as his impolitic comments since then. But all the hateration in the world won't undo that fact.

      If Nader had had a massive heart attack in 1998, he'd have gone down as one of the greatest Americans in modernity.

      Btw, the more I look at his argument that both parties are the same, the more uncomfortable I am in shouting him down. He's still wrong but...

      •  I am well aware of Nader's past (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw, MHB

        And in regards to what you reference in terms of safety and so on you are right.

        Doesn't change how I feel about the man's overall accomplishments (or in my opinion lack there of) especially in regards to his false assertions about the parties.

        I also though don't want to get away from my point here which is that in the most absurdly best case it's entirely too early to be comparing Snowden to the people in that book and frankly it might always be wrong to compare him to many of those people.

        That's just how I feel on the issue.

        In the time that I have been given,
        I am what I am

        by duhban on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:44:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Are the two parties the same? (0+ / 0-)

        Are you blending the fact that both sides do have good positions and letting that gloss over the bigger picture?

        When you look at the history of when each party had majority. Each has had scandals equal to what the other has had.

        When I look at what I do not like about government then research how that came to be. One party stands out more then I like.

      •  I voted for Nader over gore. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus, StrayCat

        I voted for Perot over Clinton.

        I have no regrets.  

        Nader is not the only one who sees little difference between the parties.  Gore Vidal has famously observed that we have one party in America; the property party and this party has two wings who may disagree slightly on some social issues, but are largely in agreement.

        I have spent my life watching democrats fall all over themselves to become more like republicans.  I can bring myself to continue voting for them when there's no other option, but that's about it...

        (I did get suckered by candidate Obama into donating time and money.  Now I just feel like a sucker.  He doesn't get called out enough on his campaign lies.)

        Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

        by No Exit on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:36:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do you have any evidence for this: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJayTee, TheMomCat, dclawyer06
      has put his own fame and ego
      Also...terrorists!!
    •  “Judge not, (0+ / 0-)

      that you be not judged."

  •  It would be interesting to read a study (5+ / 0-)

    Of dissenters who so offended their surrounding society that they were forced to leave to have some semblance of freedom, from Snowden to Natan Sharansky to Assata Shakur, and many, many others.

    A slower bleed out is not a sustainable alternative.

    by MrJayTee on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:18:17 PM PDT

  •  It's really very simple (16+ / 0-)
    How should society deal with inconvenient truth-tellers and those who act out of moral conscience?
    Independently investigate the allegations as expeditiously as possible because in a lot of cases lives are at stake.  Or long term reputations.  Or freedoms.

    Only after a duly diligent investigation can one pronounce a judgement about the messenger.

    Focusing on Snowden right now to the exclusion of finding out whether NSA and its contractors are doing as he alledges is getting it backwards.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:18:58 PM PDT

    •  And it's stupid... (6+ / 0-)

      When someone blows the whistle, I believe in diving in and consuming their offerings. If he hadn't taken the risk to inform us, we'd have gone another 5-10 years of this eavesdropping.

      President Obama says he welcomes this debate, but when was it supposed to occur, in 2025?

      Thank god for Snowden.

      •  it's only whistle blowing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lestatdelc, dclawyer06, murrayewv

        if something illegal is being done though. Just randomly leaking classified data because you don't like it is illegal

        And frankly the debate is happening right now which is why the NSA is declassifying a lot of documents and from what they are saying trying to declassify more to show exactly what is going on.

        In the time that I have been given,
        I am what I am

        by duhban on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:47:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol.. (5+ / 0-)
          And frankly the debate is happening right now which is why the NSA is declassifying a lot of documents and from what they are saying trying to declassify more to show exactly what is going on.
          It's not personal. But NSA is a gang of liars and they're protected by President Obama who either digs their lies or isn't enough of a leader to put an end to them.

          Let me stop for I act wild.
          Here's a tip. Cheers.

          •  well (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dclawyer06

            if you go into this with your opinion already set, what's the point?

            I am willing to hear what both Snowden says and can prove and what the NSA says and can prove and go from there.

            tipped back

            In the time that I have been given,
            I am what I am

            by duhban on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:17:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Me too. (5+ / 0-)

              I just hope Snowden can stay free long enough to inform the public. He's already thrown his life away. He may never see his family again. I hope he and Greenwald have a few more stories in them.

              It won't likely change this nation's course but it'd be a worthwhile exercise nonetheless.

              Makes you wonder, tho, if the members of the House/Senate intelligence committees aren't fully read into the program, who is?

  •  I guarantee you the NSA is using its data mining (2+ / 0-)

    tools to try to find other beautiful souls "traitors" who work for them and might be inclined to leak to the press. My guess is that security spooks are very interested in profiling "beautiful souls" -- so that they can fire them before their consciences ever prompt them.

  •  Here's something I can agree with (6+ / 0-)
    With the obvious caveat that there is a lot we don't know about Snowden...
    I think it is waaaaay too premature to be putting a crown of laurels on Snowden's head and equally premature to be crucifying him.  

    There hasn't been enough time to sort out what he did, who he is, and whether his stated motivations are sincere.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:45:17 PM PDT

    •  I'm deeply uncomfortable with the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv

      elevation of 'motivations'. Since this is a fairly Jewy post, I'll say that as I understand it, according to Jewish tradition it doesn't matter why you do something. All that matters is what you do. So the fact that the IDF soldiers who refuse to evict settlers have genuine and heartfelt principles, and genuinely feel threatened,  and genuinely feel empathy, (I find Press's distinction between the two sides pretty weak), none of that matters. What matters is that they're wrong.

      There's an old Jewish story about a guy who hates everyone. He wants to torture and torment his neighbors. He's just writhing with all these terrible impulses. And he knows it, so in order to hide his real self, he's utterly generous and kind and giving and caring. And this goes on for years. And then decades. And then he dies, having only done good, even though his sole motivation was to conceal the evil in his own soul.

      There is no easy equation to judge these things, where you plug in empathy and motivation look at the very clear result.

      (Not really in response to you, Radiowalla--just got carried away!)

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:46:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good grief (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, duhban

    Now I remember why my participation here is next to nil these days.

    cheers,

    Mitch Gore

    Want to end too big to fail banks? Then move your money and they will no longer be too big.

    by Lestatdelc on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:57:02 PM PDT

  •  And I was looking for a discussion of the book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, unfangus, MHB

    Some other time, perhaps?

    •  I hear what you're saying. But it would be a lot (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, kyril, RiveroftheWest

      more constructive to start such a conversation, than just to complain that nobody else has.

      I'm most impressed by the spontaneous courage and cleverness of Aleksander Jevtic. Most of the Serbs in that group hated Croats. Any one of them might have fingered him as a liar and traitor at any instant. But he kept his cool, and did what few would have imagined.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:32:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I enjoy all your well-written book reviews, Susan. (4+ / 0-)

    This will be republished to Readers & Book Lovers in 40 mins.

    These are some gripping and thought-provoking stories.

    Those who dare to take a stand, Press claims, really only have one thing in common in the end: they're idealists (some would even say, naive idealists), true believers.
    True believers can be dangerous (though none of Press's are), when they pay no heed to others' feelings and the facts on the ground. The really effective idealists - like Gandhi, or Jefferson - are the ones who are also shrewd pragmatists.

    But in the cases Press cites, if they'd been shrewder pragmatists, they never would have taken the brave stands they did.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:22:24 PM PDT

    •  are you sure? (0+ / 0-)

      just because you are a 'shrewd pragmatist' doesn't mean you can't make a stand.

      Personally I am tired of this false idea that just because you are more pragmatic you can't take a stand.

      Don't believe me? Two words, Oscar Schindler

      In the time that I have been given,
      I am what I am

      by duhban on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:58:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure you read my whole comment. I did say that (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, unfangus, MHB, RiveroftheWest

        Gandhi and Jefferson were pragmatists who were also idealists - and they both made history with the courage and force of the stands they took.

        "But in the cases Press cites, if they'd been shrewder pragmatists, they never would have taken the brave stands they did."
        All five who were mentioned in the diary sound much more idealist than calculating. They all took great personal risks, and they mostly lost far more than they gained, from the good they did for others.

        I'm not saying Gandhi had an easy life, but he and Jefferson did build huge careers out of their stands.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:01:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You are all confused over Snowden (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    America's core value is freedom of information. Even in some cases where others will experience harm.

    Classifying information that does not need to be then persecuting the leaking is not what we are about.

    You are confusing classified data with NSA's method(s) of collecting data.

    We have more then once neutered CIA, NSA, Defense, in the past because of way an action was done disregarding results even if they were positive. Because it it not the way America works.

    Snowden whistled because NSA has no right to intercept data the way they are doing. The data is classified to keep us from  knowing they are collecting it when they should not be.

    For those of you about to respond back that NSA has the right with such and such a law. Until that law has seen the supreme court that law is also illegal. Which is again why the data is classified to avoid appearing before the supreme court to test the law.

    Get the picture now?

    •  You're confused over "all". Read more carefully. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dclawyer06, RiveroftheWest

      Looking at all the comments, and leaving Susan G out of it, it looks like there are:

      6 commenters rooting for Snowden
      2 commenters who may sympathize with him
      1 who is neutral
      2 who are grumpy
      and 1 voluble commenter  who's pretty sure Snowden's a childish, confused egoist.

      You are either the most confused of all, or you're so eager to state your burning opinion that you have no time to listen to others first.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:45:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  only one nit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dclawyer06, kyril, Rashaverak, StrayCat

      Until the supremes offer an opinion a law is presumed legal by definition, as long as it doesn't conflict with previous court  rulings. The Federalist Papers discussed this explicitly, as did John Marshall, the Chief Justice when the SC claimed the right to declare laws unconstitutional.

      The law giving the NSA the power to collect the call metadata was written in the context of rulings that said that said pin registers (what we today call metadata, called that due to the way the data was collected at the time) weren't 'secret', hence not covered by the 4th. The relevant ruling, written by Blackmun (not exactly a reactionary) has this:

      Telephone users, in sum, typically know that they must convey numerical information to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes. Although subjective expectations cannot be scientifically gauged, it is too much to believe that telephone subscribers, under these circumstances, harbor any general expectation that the numbers they dial will remain secret.
      We share a far more amount of data compared to 30 years ago. The change has been mentioned by at least one Justice, Sotomayor, who has written in an opinon
      This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers. Perhaps, as Justice Alito notes, some people may find the “tradeoff” of privacy for convenience “worthwhile,” or come to accept this “diminution of privacy” as “inevitable,” and perhaps not. I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year. But whatever the societal expectations, they can attain constitutionally protected status only if our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence ceases to treat secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy.
      To me, the bold type is the crux today.

      47 is the new 51!

      by nickrud on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 11:33:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I actually agree with this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, StrayCat
      Snowden whistled because NSA has no right to intercept data the way they are doing. The data is classified to keep us from  knowing they are collecting it when they should not be.
      Snowden's critics suggest he's dumped all sorts of substantive info when he's actually disclosing the mechanism of unlawful data collection.
    •  Until that law has seen the supreme court (0+ / 0-)
      Until that law has seen the supreme court that law is also illegal.
      I respectfully disagree.  According to that line of reasoning, no law is legal unless and until the Supreme Court finds it to be Constitutional.  That is now the way that our system works.  Laws (statutes, regulations, ordinances) are presumptively valid and remain in effect until struck down as unConstitutional.

      Our system could not function if the quoted statement were true.  The Supreme Court does not have the resources to screen every statute, every federal regulation, let alone every State statute, regulation, county or city ordinance, etc.

      It is worth noting that the Constitution does not explicitly grant the Supreme Court the power to review statutes, etc. for Constitutionality.  i do subscribe to the principle that the Supreme Court has that power, but it is an implicit power, not an explicitly conferred one.

      Obviously, some statutes and ordinances are unConstitutional on their face.  But they are on the books, and it takes either a repeal or a successful court challenge to void them.

  •  Freedom is not free (0+ / 0-)

    nor is it without risk. The bottom line on what is happening right now is that someone is drawing (or attempting to draw) our attention to activity that was made legal years ago with the Patriot Act. It has been re-instated multiple times since. We all were aware of it. The nightly news and daily newspapers reported on each reinstatement. It was all done in front of us (No, of course not the details. The general public was not made aware of much of that and anyone paying attention knew that.) and we all sat by and decided that a small piece of liberty was/is worth the price of security. That's how it works. That's how it has always worked. The only difference was that this time the test was on our soil. So the possible infringement was closer to home. A little more up close and personal, if you will. This entire brouhaha is the result of a person who was not paying attention and suddenly got a dose of reality previously ignored; for whatever reason(s) he remained ignorant. Now he is a lone wolf all excited about something that the majority of us were already aware of. He didn't mind going the unethical route and considers himself a hero. Delusions of grandeur based on ignorance is a difficult thing to watch play out. He should be left alone and forgotten in Russia or China. There is no story here people. Move on, nothing to see.

    There is nothing more exciting than the truth. - Richard P. Feynman

    by pastol on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:08:53 AM PDT

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