Talk:Human rights in the United States/Archive 17

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Archive 16 Archive 17 Archive 18

No definition

This article does not begin with a definition, does not say Human rights in the United States refers to rights that are of such and such a nature and within such and such limits. The existing first sentence reads like a second sentence. Why no definition? Binksternet (talk) 14:57, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

International ?

I know this is technically only about human rights IN America, but I think it's misleading to talk about America's human rights record without at least mentioning the numerous violations abroad. I mean, even one example (such as the deposition of Salvador Allende and installation of Pinochet) completely changes the nature of the discussion. And I know what you're going to say "AHHH he's a communist apologist leftie crazy!" I'm not a communist or a socialist. I understand that, say, Russia's HR record makes America look like paradise. But that's relative. And despite the fact that the US's human rights record is relatively good, it would be lying to ignore their violations abroad. The Philippines, Hawaii, killing of civilians in the Vietnam War, the debate over the atomic bomb, and so on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.151.34.13 (talk) 01:50, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Those are all debates, and not genuine violations of human rights.
It presumes, for example, that the U.S. deposed Allende, and it diminishes the role of the people in Chile. It also presumes that keeping Allende in power would have been beneficial to human rights, which is clearly not true. Say what you like about Pinochet, but the ultimate death toll would have been much higher under a communist dictatorship.
Vietnam is another example. The U.S. left Vietnam with a so-called "peace treaty" in 1973. Don't forget how many innocent Vietnamese died after that. We could more easily say that abandonment of the Vietnamese people was the bigger human rights violation.
You don't need to agree with that, of course. After all, we live in a world where fascism is defended by people who claim to care about human rights. But the point is that what you're suggesting is a major can of worms at best.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 02:59, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
I think the scope is already complex enough. I've suggested MINIMAL expansion outside U.S. borders to include territory under direct U.S.jurisdiction (so, military bases, embassy/embassy grounds). What happens outside the fence or gate is another article. Vecrumba       TALK 04:27, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
I would say, "to include the persons under US jurisdiction". More concretely, those persons that were artificially moved from the American soil to make violations of their rights (by the US authorities) possible. In that sense, Guantanamo or CIA prisons abroad fit that definition, Abu-Graib partially fit (or doesn't fit), whereas Afganistan doesn't.--Paul Siebert (talk) 05:15, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "Don't forget how many innocent Vietnamese died after that." I don't think this number to be even comparable with the number of innocent Vietnamese died before that, e.g. during the US bombing campaign, "agent orange" treatment etc. I did no systematic comparison, but the answer seems obvious. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Re: "the ultimate death toll would have been much higher under a communist dictatorship." Please, correct me if I am wrong but Salvador Allende was a democratically elected president and Marxist socialist. He was neither dictator nor communist. --Paul Siebert (talk) 06:24, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
None of the GTMO detainees were moved from American soil to GTMO. There were a few jihadis arrested in the U.S. but they remained there. If they were given fewer rights than what an ordinary criminal gets does not mean they were intentionally deprived of rights they were due under the laws of war.
The numbers of innocent Vietnamese intentionally targetted by U.S. forces is highly exaggerated. Keep in mind that refugee traffic generally moved from communist-held areas into American-friendly areas. (This was the pattern throughout the cold war.)
Agent Orange was a defoliant, and not a weapon. It was considered safe enough that American troops were also exposed to it. It probably saved many thousands of lives at the time that it was used. That it was later determined to cause health problems doesn't change its intent.
Allende was elected with a minority. That's still a legitimate victory, but he abused his power (according to the Chilean high court) and was leading his country to economic ruin. Pinochet took over when the country was falling apart. I don't think there's any doubt that Chile was on track to becoming a Soviet client.
Unlike Castro, Pinochet ultimately allowed elections, and he left when the people voted him out.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:09, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "None of the GTMO detainees were moved from American soil to GTMO, etc." They weren't moved, but they are under the US jurisdiction. Therefore, they had to be considered as either regular criminals or POWs. The US authorities had chosen a third (unlawful) variant, therefore GTMO must be seen as an example of domestic human rights issue.
Re: "The numbers of innocent Vietnamese intentionally targetted by U.S. forces is highly exaggerated." Many criminal regimes (e.g. Stalin's regime) caused million deaths due to a criminal neglect. Although these victims were not intentionally targeted, it was not an excuse from our point of view. Since such an approach is universal it is not correct to separate intentionally and uninentionally targeted victims in the case of Vietnam war.
Re: "Agent Orange was a defoliant, and not a weapon." See above.
Re: "Allende was elected with a minority etc." Many democratically elected leaders (e.g. Bush) were elected with a minority eventually lead their countries to economic ruin. However, that didn't mean that they were communist dictators. Allende (i) was not a dictator; (ii) was not a Communist; (iii) didn't kill peoples (in contrast to Pinochet). This is an article about human rights, remember.--Paul Siebert (talk) 19:35, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Well said. Pexise (talk) 19:56, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Something can be well said and still be wrong.
Some people may like to think GTMO detainees deserve either criminal trials or POW status but nobody says this who has any actual responsibility in the fight against fascism. The attorneys general for President Bush and President Obama both made the case for holding detainees without trial until we believe they no longer present a threat. Even if the full Geneva Conventions had applied in this war, it explicitly says we could do this.
That is, of course, unless you want to throw away the laws of war.
Criminal neglect is quite different from the misfortunes of war. The fact that anti-Americans like to equate mistakes by U.S. forces with actual atrocities does not mean they ever approach the truth. Many of these are the same people who protested U.S. involvement in the war, and then said nothing about real atrocities by their allies. They simply don't have the moral standing to make these charges.
Did Agent Orange initially save lives? Yes, it did. Should it have been held off anyway while they conducted another 20 years of research? Maybe so, but maybe not. What were the alternatives, and what are the risks (and death tolls) that would come with that? This is nothing more than an obscene form of Monday-morning quarterbacking. You can't throw accusations of human rights abuses around simply because the government takes the least hazardous option out of many bad ones.
I'm not here to argue for Pinochet. But say what you like about him, he and his government are responsible for their human rights policies. The U.S. also supported Stalin during WWII. Does that mean we're responsible for Soviet atrocities in the conquest of Berlin? Don't think Monday-morning quarterbacking would stop at Pinochet and Agent Orange.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:09, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "The attorneys general for President Bush and President Obama both made the case for holding detainees without trial until we believe they no longer present a threat." In other words, a decision (made by the US authorities) to hold persons (who are under the US jurisdiction) in custody without a trial indefinitely has no relation to domestic human right issues?
Re: "Criminal neglect is quite different from the misfortunes of war" Of course. But can anybody propose the universal criteria that distinguish the former from the latters? In my opinion every leader is fully responsible for all consequences (both predictable and non-predictable) of all his enterprises. Stalin started the industrialisation and he is fully responsible for the famines resulted from that. Johnson started Vietnam war and he is fully responsible for millions misfortunate deaths resulted from that, as well as for collateral "agent orange" effects.
Re: "I'm not here to argue for Pinochet" You shifted accents a little bit. By saying that "but the ultimate death toll would have been much higher under a communist dictatorship" you stated that Allende was a communist dictator and his rule would eventually result in numerous deaths. You have to concede that the first part of the statement is untrue whereas the second one is highly questionable.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:37, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
And, in addition, one have to remember that the idea of massive strategic bombing as a tool to win the war was first implemented by the Allies during WWII. In other words, by killing some amount of enemy's civilians the Allies saved the lives of their military personnel. This approach was justified during the war against the aggressors (Japan and Nazi Germany) who, in addition, were responsible for the Holocaust and massive killing of Chinese or Soviet civilians. However, the same approach (to kill hundreds thousand Vietnamese civilians to save tens thousand of American soldiers) was intrinsically flawed in the case of Vietnam war: Vietnam didn't attack the USA and the war was a civil war.--Paul Siebert (talk) 23:19, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
That's right: holding alien unlawful combatants without trial is not a domestic human rights issue. That's the way it's been since wars included the taking of prisoners. But it's not "indefinitely". The GTMO detainees get annual reviews. If we were to borrow from the 4thGC (for those who care about the GCs), it's until "the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power."
As I said, the GCs account for this. The fact that the U.S. hadn't executed any of them may be the only thing we're doing that's new.
Don't confuse my willingness to cut back to the core issues with "shifting accents." Allende was indeed nationalizing industries, and was aggressive enough to be accused of operating as a communist dictator. That you think he might not have fully become one, and Chile not yet a Soviet client, is a separate argument.
Strategic bombing may have been new in WWII but it's little different than past campaigns like Sherman's March. At the time, this was an accepted method of fighting wars. We don't hold WWII generals responsible for what might have been violations of treaties ratified after the war.
President Johnson certainly didn't start the Vietnam war. As far as human rights violations go, he'd only be responsible for U.S. actions and excessive law of war violations. And since when is taking sides in a civil war unusual or immoral? Memories of Stalin were still fresh enough back then that anyone sympathetic to the communist side should rightly be remembered as a true enemy of human rights.
What you suggest of "to kill hundreds thousand Vietnamese civilians to save tens thousand of American soldiers" is simply not true. Such a decision was never made. Many of the bombing campaigns were ordered to avoid the major cities altogether no matter how important some legitimate targets may have been. In any case, I think you overestimate the relevance of Agent Orange.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 04:11, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "holding alien unlawful combatants without trial is not a domestic human rights issue" Why?
Re: "Allende was indeed nationalizing industries, and was aggressive enough to be accused of operating as a communist dictator." (i) Nationalisation per ce is not a sign of a Communist dictatorship (Fanny Mai). (ii) How many people were executed during Allende's rule for political reasons (if any)?
Re: "President Johnson certainly didn't start the Vietnam war." Tonkin incident.
Re: "And since when is taking sides in a civil war unusual or immoral" It is neither unusual nor immoral. However, by taking one side in a civil war you take full responsibility for casualties resulted from your interference. In the case of Vientam war, they amount to two millions in North and about the same number in South.--Paul Siebert (talk) 21:36, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Holding alien unlawful combatants without trial is a routine event in wartime. I'd say it has always been that way but they used to be executed pretty quickly. There was once a time when unlawful combatancy was simply not condoned by people who claim to care about human rights.
Fannie Mae may have been a foolhardy government program but it was not nationalization of privately held assets. Even if you want to say it was, Allende was doing much more than just that. But the real bottom line is, Chile had its own opponents to socialism. If the CIA helped them, then that would be to the CIA's credit, but it's a huge stretch to say that Pinochet was "installed" by the CIA.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident compelled Johnson to send combat troops but it didn't start the Vietnam war. It didn't even start America's involvement.
The fault of a war is usually placed on the aggressor. Neither the U.S. nor South Vietnam had any desire to claim North Vietnam. The war could have been stopped at any time by the communists or their enablers. If America's critics truly didn't like that war then they would have asked their communist friends to stop fighting. Sadly, they chose not to.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 02:27, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "Holding alien unlawful combatants without trial is a routine event in wartime" During wartime you hold no unlawful combatants. You hold POWs. When there is no war, there is no combatants, neither lawful nor unlawful. In addition, with what country the US are at war currently? (I am asking because you refered to "wartime").
Re Fannie Mae. Agreed that the example was not completely correct. However, that doesn't affect the major point: no evidences exist that Allende was a communist dictator, or that he killed peoples for political reasons (or planned to do that). By contrast, Pinochet was a dictator and he killed thousands of his political opponents. BTW, I recall Madeline Albright apologised, on behalf of the US, for support of Pinochet in past.
Re Tonkin. I meant America became involved after that, during Johnson's presidentship.
Re: "The fault of a war is usually placed on the aggressor" Vietnam war was a civil war, so it is unclear what does the word "aggressor" mean in that case. The American interference was aimed not to protect a national soveregnity, but to support a concrete regime. By supporting Southern regime the US helped Vientameses to kill their compatriots and killed Veitnameses by themselves. In that sense the behaviour of the American and Soviet establishment was similar: both of them considered deaths of hundreds thousand peoples a reasonable price for triumph of democracy (or Communism) in Vietnam.--Paul Siebert (talk) 04:00, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
You can believe whatever you like about Allende. I'll grant that there is no absolute certainty that Allende would have taken Chile into the same pits that every other communist country descends into. His nationalizations, his meeting with Castro, and his support from the Soviet Union may all have been mere happenstance. It doesn't change the fact that Pinochet's actions were all his and his government's doing. That the U.S. sided with Chile is no different than that we often needed to choose allies from a lousy lot. All large nations need to do this.
The U.S. is now at war in all the respects that matter. In fact, when the Supreme Court famously overruled the Bush administration in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld it did so by saying that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions apply -- meaning that this is a non-international conflict. Although I wasn't fond of the decision, the rest of the world seemed to think it was the right one.
POW status is not a default position given to all prisoners in a war. It is a privilege earned by having fought in accordance with the laws of war. To give POW status without conditions would be the same thing as expressly giving the enemy sanction to use women and children as human shields.
Having failed to qualify as POWs does not simply mean they're given full trials with the "innocent until proved guilty" standard like common criminals. This would have been absolutely unthinkable to the diplomats who drafted the Geneva Conventions.
The American and Soviet sides in Vietnam were not similar in any way. The communists were the aggressors; most of the fighting was in the south; the communists continued fighting after the U.S. had left; and the persecutions continued after they won the war. As I said, the war could have ended at any time if the north's supporters and enablers really wanted it to stop.
You don't need to take my word for it. Just look at all of the protests in opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam War, here and around the world. They were only focused on the U.S. involvement. It was they who didn't care how many people would die after we left.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:02, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Re: Allende. Let's go back to your initial statement. You wrote "Say what you like about Pinochet, but the ultimate death toll would have been much higher under a communist dictatorship". I am not intended to discuss the role of the US there. My points are: (i) it is incorrect to say that Allende was a Communist and a dictator, and he didn't kill his opponents, and (ii) murder of political opponents is not acceptable way to change a social and economic policy. Do you agree or disagree with that?
Re: "In fact, when the Supreme Court famously overruled the Bush administration in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld it did so by saying that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions apply -- meaning that this is a non-international conflict. " and "This would have been absolutely unthinkable to the diplomats who drafted the Geneva Conventions." I didn't understand these your points. Explain, please.
Re: "The communists were the aggressors; most of the fighting was in the south" There are no aggressors in civil war, just two opposing political forces. In addition, if I am not wrong, it was Ngo Dinh Diem, who started the campaign, during which communists and other anti-government elements were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, or executed.--Paul Siebert (talk) 18:28, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

You're correct in saying Allende was not a communist. He was a socialist. They had similar aims and sympathies with the communist party but they were not one and the same. And yes, Allende didn't kill his opponents.
Those might sound like he wasn't such a bad guy, but you might also note that he failed to control his government. I see no reason to believe Allende could have managed it without holding support of the communists (in Chile and the Soviet Union), and then purging his government and its institutions.
On the other hand, Pinochet eventually did allow elections, and he left the office peaceably when he lost. That's quite a difference from Cuba's experience.
You had disputed whether or not the U.S. is at war. In the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies. This is the part for civil wars. My meaning is that the U.S. Supreme Court agree that this is a war, and that the rules of war should apply. That decision was cheered worldwide.
By "absolutely unthinkable" I was thinking of your statement: "When there is no war, there is no combatants, neither lawful nor unlawful." I had inferred that to mean that you believe (as many do) that prisoners should be arrested and tried as common criminals. The men who wrote the Geneva Conventions would never have allowed that interpretation. They were very hesitant to give them any rights at all. Common Article 3 is very limited.
You may certainly push the point as to whether or not a "conflict" like this, or any civil war, is technically a "war" in the strictest sense. That would be an interesting question but it doesn't change anything if we start calling it a "conflict".
If you want to say Ngo Dinh Diem really started the Vietnam war/conflict/whatever, that's fine with me. I don't think it ultimately affects what I was trying to say.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:46, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
Re Communists. Strictly speaking, your implicit statement (Marxism = Communism = Stalinism = Totalitarian dictatorship) is a dramatic oversimplification. Communism as an ideology and Stalinist practice are two quite different things. To demonstrate my point, let me remind you that before early 30s there were almost no political prisoners in the USSR (few tens thousand per the 150,000,000 country), and there were no forced labour camps during that time, private enterprises existed, the land was de facto privately owned by peasants and industrial economy was gradually evolving to state capitalism. Everything changed only after 1930, and Stalinist regime formed after Great Purge. After Stalin death, the regime was too unusual to characterize it in few words, but it differed dramatically from grim totalitarian Stalinist regime. During Brezhnev's time, the political system resembled late Frankist Spain. In other words, during 70 years of Soviet history we have at least four absolutely different states (post-civil war society, Stalinist regime, Khruschev's rule, Brezhnev's rule), and it is quite misleading to draw any conclusion from the fact that all these regimes claimed to adhere to the Communist ideology. Moreover, numerous countres exist where Communists are participating in normal political activity (Italy, France, India etc), and that has no dramatically negative effect. In some cases, like in Csechoslovakia, the Communist regime appeared to have intrinsic potential to convert itself into a more humanistic society, so the extensive interference of the USSR was needed to suppress this process.
My conclusion is that it was absolutely incorrect to say that Allende socialist reforms and even prospective help from Chilean Communist would lead to conversion of the Chilean society into something like a Communist dictatorship. And death of thouthands of innocent peoples is unacceptable price for the elimination of such a hypothetical threat.
Re: "On the other hand, Pinochet eventually did allow elections" This is equally true for other authoritarian regimes. For instance, Frankist and Brezhnevist regimes also eventually did allow elections, and as I already wrote, I don't know which regime was more humane, Brezhnev's or Pinochet's.
Re: "I had inferred that to mean that you believe (as many do) that prisoners should be arrested and tried as common criminals, etc" Well, I think you are right, however, if that was non-international conflict, then it is national, isn't it? If America is involved in a conflict that is non-internatuional, therefore this conflict must be considered the US's internal affair. Therefore, GTMO does belong to this article.
Re: "If you want to say Ngo Dinh Diem really started the Vietnam war/conflict/whatever, that's fine with me." No. I am not intended to blame any side. My point is that it is incorrect to state that one side was an aggressor.--Paul Siebert (talk) 01:29, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
The threat was more than just hypothetical. You make it sound like those thousands killed under Pinochet were all innocent bystanders. Some people disagree.
I understand that the implementation of communism changed over the years but I am looking at its nature at the time that Pinochet took control. It doesn't matter that communists can live as a minority party half a world away. What does matter is what they were attempting to do in South America. If the Soviets were disinterested in fomenting revolution there then that's the first time.
The war in Afghanistan is not a "national" one for the U.S. It's clearly outside the U.S., and so it's not an internal affair to us.
Even if you want to say North Vietnam was not the initial "aggressor" (not that I agree) it still doesn't change the fact that they refused to stop fighting. They were given many opportunities to do so. President Johnson had hoped they could be bought off with aid money. The communists didn't want the war to end until they won.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 04:00, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: "You make it sound like those thousands killed under Pinochet were all innocent bystanders". Of course. Part of them were socialists or communists, who, however didn't and didn't intended to kill anybody. Others were just liberal journalists etc. That is sufficient to consider Pinochet's deeds as a pure crime. The article you cite is pure propaganda (taking into account the words used, or, for instance, the attempt to draw a parallel between Allende and Hitler based on the coincidence of numbers of their supporters). Your views are odd for a persons supporting western values.
Re: "I am looking at its nature at the time that Pinochet took control." At that time it was toothless regime unable to do anything. One way or the another, to fight agains totalitarism by means of authritarism is not a good idea.
Re: "The war in Afghanistan" When I mentioned Afghanistan an the internal affair?
Re: "The communists didn't want the war to end until they won." It is not quite unusual in human history, and it is not specific for Communists. --Paul Siebert (talk) 22:50, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
You can't ignore the direct quotes from Allende and those around him. Allende's praise for Stalin wasn't simply an act of naivete. There wasn't any excuse for that, as there were some leftists around the world who did reject Stalin during the purges.
I agree that authoritarianism isn't the best way to fight totalitarism, but we weren't in that fight. There were only two viable sides. We had to pick an ally.
The war in Afghanistan is clearly external to us.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:41, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Re: "You can't ignore the direct quotes from Allende and those around him." And you cannot use the Allende's words to justify murderers. Let's discuss deeds, not words. In addition, people outside the USSR saw a glossy version of Stalin and Stalinism. Many western intellectuals had illusions about Stalinism, and that doesn't mean they deserved execution.
Re: "We had to pick an ally." I am not sure. The best choice would be just to refrain from any interference. To my opinion (shared by many Latin America's intellectuals) in the absence of the US interference Latin America wouldn't become "red". Just "pink", and, possibly, temporarily. What happened in actuality, resembles a situation in pre-WWII Europe, when the nasty regime got support from not-very-clever democrats because it opposed Communists. We both know what that silly policy had lead to. In Latin America the dictators appeared to be less dangerous for the outside worlds, but Latin America itself payed a terrible price. And the US are fully responsible for that.
Re Afghanistan. As I already said, I never claimed Afghanistan was internal to the US, so your point is unclear.
--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:02, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Sure, lots of people were willing to avert their eyes to Stalin, but there's a major difference when that's done by a leading figure.
Many people saw Stalin for what he was. The purges weren't secret. The ACLU reacted by purging itself of communists (including some senior figures). It is for this reason that they were later able to stick to their principles and fight the internment of Japanese-Americans while the far left National Lawyers Guild supported internment. (The NLG had supported appeasement during the Hitler-Stalin pact, and then switched to pro-war when the pact broke.) Anyway, the ACLU's leaders were able to form their opinions from reading the newspaper. A man like Allende could have done the same.
You did say "therefore this conflict must be considered the US's internal affair" but if that's not what you meant then I'm willing to drop it. I don't think Wikipedia is functionally able to keep GTMO, Iraq, or Afghanistan out of any article anyway, no matter what the subject matter.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 04:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
"At least a mention" really opens a floodgate whether intended or not. My apologies that I have not been following talk more closely, have we given any more thought to a compromise position of "under direct U.S. jurisdiction" for "in the United States"? Just checking. PētersV       TALK 04:39, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I think "under direct U.S. jurisdiction" is better than saying it's internal. I'd worry that the word "jurisdiction" could be a problem. SCOTUS decided that GTMO is within U.S. jurisdiction but someone might say that it hasn't been settled for detainees in Afghanistan.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:41, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you PētersV for turning the discussion towards the initial subject :). Since my proposal was "under U.S. jurisdiction" I agree with Randy2063, although the word "direct" needs some clarification. I see no problem with the word "jurisdiction" so far. One way or the another, thank you Randy2063 for interesting, although rather abstract discussion.--Paul Siebert (talk) 21:31, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Readded Portion of Lead section

I have readded a section of the lead that was inexpicably removed by another editor as a "copyright violation". The editor now claims it is "off-topic" with the following comment left on my talk page: "The material is not on-topic and is not covered in the article, and therefore, does not belong in the lead section. The lead section is for a summary of the most important points in the article. The copyright allegation is no longer the sole issue". I have re-added the cite, and changed the wording to obviate the claim it is a copyright violation. I note that the section readded relates to the United State's actions in tieing human rights with foreign aid, which is set forth in the article under the international section under the sub-heading "Support for Human Rights". If an editor deems it off-topic in light of this fact, please comment below. Thank you.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 20:33, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Nowhere, in either my current edit summary[1] or in the current talk page discussion justifying my latest removal of the material,[2] did I at any time claim to remove it due to a copyright violation. You know this, because I explained this fact on your talk page,[3] yet you chose to repeat the same misinformation for a second time. Why? Here was my edit summary:

Remove unattibuted, off-topic, non lead material per neutral editorial opinion at Wikipedia:Content_noticeboard#Human_rights_in_the_United_States and extensive discussion on talk

Yachtsman, where do you see the words "copyright violation" in the above? Since you used quotes, you apparently seem to think those words were used. Where are they? They weren't used, because the material was recently paraphrased, and the copyright violation concerns was only one of many issues that have been discussed on this page. As the discussion above and the edit summary make clear, 1) the material is off topic as it discusses foreign policy 2) this article does not discuss foreign policy or mention this material 3) Per WP:LEAD, we summarize the most important points of the article in section zero. That is why the material was removed. Viriditas (talk) 20:47, 25 June 2009 (UT)
I see those words here: Wikipedia:Content_noticeboard#Human_rights_in_the_United_States , at least that was your original argument. The editor stated he did not deem it a copyright violation. Foreign policy is specifically discussed in the article under the international section, as is the US State Dept's reports on human rights. This nicely summarizes that section, and it is an important point. On a final note, please refrain from leaving comments on my talk page, and certainly refrain from reverting any change I make to my own talk page ever again, particularly when I edit the talk page to remove your comments. If you want to discuss an article, we will do it on the article's discussion page. Thank you.Yachtsman1 (talk) 20:59, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I just gave you two diffs showing that the justification for the current removal had nothing to do with copyright violation, yet you continue to repeat the same claim. You used the quote "copyright violation" when those words were not used, in either my current edit summary justifying the removal or in my current talk page comment. Please directly address my concerns about the content, here, in this discussion. Here are the concerns: 1) the material is off topic as it discusses foreign policy 2) this article does not discuss foreign policy or mention this material 3) Per WP:LEAD, we summarize the most important points of the article in section zero. That is why the material was removed. Please directly address these points. Viriditas (talk) 21:06, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Nice catch watching the Cotnent Noticeboard, Yachtsman1. This disruptive editor was blocked a few days ago for edit warring including this same material, then using the fake copyvio ploy before to remove the section. Apparently, those at the Content Noticeboard saw through the ploy as easily as did every other editor who has examined it. He/she is also attempting to add 150+ year old history actually above the current law in the Racial equality section discussed above.Mosedschurte (talk) 21:24, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I suppose I could respond with the fact that you have been blocked for edit warring on this article, and you have been edit warring on this article for more than a month. But that would avoid the problem under discussion, which the content noticeboard recognizes. Please note, that per WP:LEAD, if the material doesn't summarize the article, it doesn't belong in the lead section. And for the record, the previous version of the material was most certainly a copyright violation, as more than half of the words (28 of 43 total) were copied and pasted wholesale from exact phrases in Ignatieff's book. The material that is now in the article, is not the same it the copyvio you added. Now that I've cleared up that for you, and we can avoid any further obfuscations from you on this issue, please address the following points: 1) the material is off topic as it discusses foreign policy 2) this article does not discuss foreign policy or mention this material 3) Per WP:LEAD, we summarize the most important points of the article in section zero. That is why the material was removed. Viriditas (talk) 21:36, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I looked through the comments made by Binksterneton on the Wikipedia:Content_noticeboard#Human_rights_in_the_United_States. His major concern was the scope of the article, not a copyright violations. He correctly pointed out that if the article is about Human rights in the United States, than most international issues should be left beyond the scope. In connection to that, I noticed that the same editors who vehemently oppose to inclusion of Guantanamo etc (that, to their opinion, have no relation to the US domestic human right issues) equally vehemently support the disputable sentence, although this sentence tells about the US involvement into spreading out human rights on international arena. To my opinion, this is explained by the fact that whereas GTMO shows the US in negative light, the US's involvement in international human right activity has an opposite effect. In other words, these editors pursue a clear goal to create as positive image of the US as possible, whereas the image should be neither positive nor negative, but correct. My final conclusion is that these editors are highly biased.--Paul Siebert (talk) 21:55, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Right, so then you agree that the material should be removed from the lead section? That makes three editors, one of which responded from a neutral position. I have asked Mosedschurte and Yachtsman1 to justify the inclusion of this material for a week now, with no response. Viriditas (talk) 21:58, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I am not sure. The fact that the US are the leading force spreading out human rights on the international arena does have a direct relation to the human rights in the USA, because it implies that domestic human rights standards must be equally (or even more) high. Therefore, the sentence may be (although not necessarily is) relevant. However, one has to logically connect it to the article's subject (human rights in the USA). In addition, we must be consistent, so if we leave this sentence in the lede, the off-topic tags must be removed from GTMO and Abu-Graib.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:12, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Quite a quandry, Paul, and you have hit upon the crux of it. If the above-editor maintains that this is off-topic, the entire international section must also logically be eliminated, not that I would object because I think it is definitely off-topic. But if it stays, then it must remain as it relates to that subject area in terms of the international section, off-topic or not, and is required in the lead. Your point on neutrality is also noted, but neutrality does not mean that items criticial of the United States "must" remain under the guise of objectivity, while non-critical items must be eliminated under the guise of "bias". A good article incorporates both, providing negative and positive aspects in this area in a measured fashion. That is how "neutrality" is achieved.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 03:10, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
So you support removal of the out-of-topic tags?--Paul Siebert (talk) 04:03, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Do you support removal of the off-topic materials underneath of them? If the lead reflects the article, and the article includes international areas, the lead remains the same. If the internatiuonal ction is removed, the lead correspondingly gets changed as well to reflect its removal. My position, to make it perfectly clear, is that the international section is wildly off-topic, but even if it is, the lead still has to reflect this area if it remains. --Yachtsman1 (talk) 08:09, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Please explain how the lead currently reflects a summary of the article. Please give me a reason why Ignatieff should remain in the lead when it is both, 1) off-topic, and 2) doesn't summarize this article. How does the presence of Ignatieff in the lead section meet WP:LEAD? At least one neutral editor on the content noticeboard believes that Ignatieff is off-topic and that the material should be removed if it doesn't summarize the article. Why should it stay? Viriditas (talk) 08:14, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Because "[t]he lead section.....serves both as an introduction to the article, and as a summary of the important aspects of the subject of the article." This summarizes the international section and is "carefully sourced as appropriate". See WP:LEAD. Naturally, if you remove the off-topic section on international matters, that obviates its inclusion, but if it stays, then so does this portion. I will also take this poortunity to remind you that the same "neutral editor" found the entire intertational section off topic when he stated "The article is about human rights in the United States, not about the issue of human rights used as a carrot and stick by the U.S. as part of its foreign policy". [[4]] Thank you.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 08:20, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Please point me to the specific sentence and paragraph that it summarizes. Please provide the quote here so I can read it. As for the neutral editor who wrote the bit about the carrot and the stick, he was talking about Ignatieff, not the international section. Your comment is bizarre, frankly. What makes you think the editor was talking about the international section? He was specifically talking about Ignatieff in the lead, nothing else. Viriditas (talk) 08:25, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
  1. Edit warring - This will confirm your removal of this section from the lead under the "rationale" you have stated here. There is this thing, it's called "consensus". None has been built for removal of this section at this time, unless we count you. Paul Siebert does not agree with its removal either. Please provide me with the consensus that provided you with the "rationale" for its removal, now.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 19:11, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Per WP:LEAD, the lead section only summarizes the most important points of the article. And the copyright cleanup project agrees that this is a statement of opinion, not fact. I've moved the material to the international section and I've summarized it in correct and proper proportion to its importance and disucussion in the article. Please take a moment to read WP:LEAD and understand how it works. Viriditas (talk) 23:44, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

More plagiarism

Per Wikipedia:Plagiarism and Wikipedia:Copyright violations I've removed plagiarism from Devine 1999, here. Here is the material from the book:

The American Declaration of Independence was the first civic document that met a modern definition of human rights.[5]

And here is the material from the article that I removed:

The American Declaration of Independence was the first civic document that that met a modern definition of human rights in asserting human rights that applied to the general population.[1]

The material was added by User:Yachtsman1.[6] A patttern appears to be emerging here. In the legal sphere, attorneys may write legal briefs that neither cite sources or use quotations. Both Yachtsman1 and Mosedchurte appear to be attorneys. On Wikipedia, we write encyclopedia articles, not legal briefs. And these articles must be written in our own words, and per WP:NPOV attributed to sources whenever possible. Viriditas (talk) 02:15, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Attorneys can actually read policies. Plagarism is defined as follows: "Plagiarism is the incorporation of someone else's work without providing adequate credit". See Wikipedia:Plagiarism The source this work this comes from was cited. In light of this fact, I find your objections lack merit. It will be re-added. Thank you.Yachtsman1 (talk) 02:57, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
For the record, you copied 18 words in an exact phrase without quotes or attribution. This is defined as plagiarism. Since you said you read my posting on the content noticeboard, you are already aware that Turabian 2007, pp.77-80 describes this as "inadvertent plagiarism", because you "cited a source but used its exact words without putting them in quotation marks or in a block quotation" and "you paraphrased a source and cited it, but in words so similar to those of your source that they are almost a quotation: anyone could see that you were following the source word-by-word as you paraphrased it." This has been explained several times, so ignoring the explanation and continuing to deny it is not an appropriate level of discourse. To summarize, you incorporated the work of Devine 1999 without providing adequate credit. Just because you added a citation, does not automatically make the material kosher. In fact, the use of citations and the inclusion of unattributed and unquoted material that is taken verbatim from said source has a somewhat independent relationship; Plagiarized material can include sources, as Turabian 2007 explains. I think you will find that every major citation style guideline says this. The problem, however, that Turabian highlights, and that is applicable to this discussion is that "You must, however, follow the standard practices of your field." As Turabian points out, "lawyers often use the exact language of a statute or judicial opinion with no quotation marks." So, we are sympathetic to the problem posed by your edits. You admit that you are an attorney, so perhaps this explains the problem. In either case, Wikipedia paraphrases and attributes; We do not copy material verbatim from sources without direct quotes. If this isn't clear, please feel free to ask questions. Viriditas (talk) 07:27, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Except the cite to the work is present, correct? You were saying something about non-attribution, correct? As for plaigarism, it has been defined for you, and your own version is at odds with the policy you direct our attention to. I also note that you have managed to work out 18 words, but also admit that it is not an exact quote. It will be re-added. Your position is simply wrong, and entirely unsupported by the actual policy. Thank you.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 15:44, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
As it was pointed out to you, the definition of plagiarism belongs to Kate L. Turabian, and this is not "wrong" or "unsupported" in any way. You stole the words from Devine's book without proper attribution of the author, either inline in the text or with quotation works. The words did not belong to you, and whether a source appears at the end of the material is irrelevant to whether it is considered plagiarism. My position is based not just on Turabian, but on every definition of plagiarism in use. To recap, you committed inadvertent plagiarism when you "cited a source but used its exact words without putting them in quotation marks or in a block quotation" and "you paraphrased a source and cited it, but in words so similar to those of your source that they are almost a quotation: anyone could see that you were following the source word-by-word as you paraphrased it. This is not my position; this is the very definition of plagiarism, and you and Mosedchurte need to stop doing it. Viriditas (talk) 19:06, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
And my definition comes from Wikipedia itself, which does not support your position. Let me repeat it: "Plagarism is defined as follows: "Plagiarism is the incorporation of someone else's work without providing adequate credit". See Wikipedia:Plagiarism The source was clearly identified (ergo, "attributed" and given "credit"), and you can spin this anyway you like, but it's still not plaigarism. Wikipedia is at its heart a "scholarly" work, and works of other authors are cited to all the time in articles in support of those articles. It works by its own policies, not those you pull out of the policies of others. To recap, you're wrong. Thank you.--Yachtsman1 (talk) 19:35, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Your edits clearly incorporated the work of Devine 1999 without providing adequate credit. That is the very definition of plagiarism. You did not write the words. Using a citation source does not prevent plagiarism. This is common knowledge. You failed to attribute the text to the author and you failed to use quotation marks. You stole the exact material from Devine's book and placed a source at the end. That is still plagiarism and it is still a copyright violation. Wikilawyering over the definition of plagiarism is not going to work out well for you. Viriditas (talk) 19:51, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Except the term "Devine" and the cite? That's called giving "credit" and "attributing" the source via citation. That's wikipedia policy, and meets academic standards to the letter. Nor is it a copyright violation. See Fair use. You do realize copyright is a legal term, correct? You may want to rethink this approach before commenting further.Yachtsman1 (talk) 19:59, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Nope. First of all, the source you added is a tertiary source. Wikipedia prefers secondary, but tertiary sources may also be used. In any case, "Devine" is not the author of the material, as it is an unattributed reference book, so you would reference either Devine et al. or the name of the book. Second, you didn't originally attribute the content nor use quotes, and on Wikipedia, that's considered plagiarism as well as a copyright violation. You were not the author of the material. Third, if you are making a legal threat against me, you can be indefinitely blocked for doing so. Viriditas (talk) 00:37, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

(od) In addition to the above comment, if an editor (any of us included) reads a source and believes that the text in the article too closely quotes an attributed source, please (all of us, me included) follow So Fix It and just edit the text being attributed to the source to fix the problem -- especially since you have the source open right in front of you at that moment -- rather than wholesale deletions of the text, which just removes the entire substantive addition to the article altogether. Unless there is some prior indication that even editing the text would be problematic (and I haven't see any). Adding a Talk section pointing out the problem and confirming such an edit is, of course, beneficial. Also, please WP:Assume Good Faith. Many editors can disagree upon what constitutes an adequate or inadequate text attributed to a source, and many editors are not aware of the parameters surrounding the issue. Even if you are sure that your interpretation of the rules is correct, please don't assume that the other party has purposefully too closely quoted the source, or has done so with full knowledge of Wikipedia policies surrounding such attributional sourcing.Mosedschurte (talk) 21:48, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps if you would read a bit closer, you would see that this type of editing was labeled, "inadvertent plagiarism", both here and on the content noticeboard. Wholesale deletions of any and all copyrighted text are actively encouraged at all times. Viriditas (talk) 00:39, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Clearly, in the case of whether a properly attributed source is properly paraphrased, if it isnot, simply fixing the text by editing it while one has the source open is a better alternative to deleting the entire text and source altogether. In other words, in the future, let's just try to follow So Fix It, especially where the fix is an incredibly easy under 1 minute issue with the original source already sitting in front of an editor.Mosedschurte (talk) 00:43, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Everyone who adds and deletes material needs to follow best practices, which includes proper paraphrasing, proper sourcing, and proper attribution. Statements of opinion especially need attention, as we do not assert them as fact. Statements of fact generally do not need attribution, but whenever possible or necessary, sources should be added. This is a basic approach that applies across the encyclopedia. Beyond that, there are issues with editorial judgment, such as cherry picking specific claims, poisoning the well, etc. This area tends to get more complex and requires a careful reading of a broad variety of sources representing many different significant POV. This is what makes Wikipedia different than other sources. A good rule of thumb is to always be ready and able to back up any challenged claim with at least two reliable sources. This tends to save a lot of problems down the road and allows other editors to fact-check more easily. As for fixing plagiarism, copyvio, and other problems with text, the general rule is to remove and delete. After that time, the text may be fixed or readded, but it is not incumbent on the person deleting the material to do that. Rather, the burden is always on the editor adding the material. Viriditas (talk) 00:49, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I understand that re fixing copyvio issues, "it is not incumbent on the person deleting the material to do that", but where the issue is whether or not text citing a source is properly paraphrased, and an editor has the original source directly in front of them already, I am suggesting it would be helpful to just edit the text in a proper paraphrasing at that moment, comporting with So Fix It, rather than wholesale deletions of the entire source. I am not stating that this is an obligation, just suggesting it as a future practice to help editing the article.Mosedschurte (talk) 00:54, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Questionable section

The section on the New York Times seems quite out of place and hardly worthy of its own heading and devoted section - it reads more like a footnote. Pexise (talk) 20:27, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Coverage of international human rights violations in the media*

Studies have found that the New York Times coverage of worldwide human rights violations is biased, predominantly focusing on the human rights violations in nations where there is clear U.S. involvement, while having relatively little coverage of the human rights violations in other nations.[166][167] Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan explains, "If we focus on the U.S. it's because we believe that the U.S. is a country whose enormous influence and power has to be used constructively ... When countries like the U.S. are seen to undermine or ignore human rights, it sends a very powerful message to others."[168]

Potential WP:OR

On the recently added, re: the Constitution: ", while implicitly accepting the continuation of human rights abuses such as slavery." The Constitution must be judged relative to the circumstances of its day, that is the mid to late 19th century—for which period it is a radical departure. I'll be removing it as an unsourced addition until a sourced statement can be added appropriately positioning:

  • circumstances of the times (mid-late 18th century)
  • Constitutional guarantees
  • as compared to today with regard to universal applicability (Constitutional guarantees extended) and
  • as compared to various declarations et al. (where the Constitution ends and laws start)

In general, I think the article needs a lot more on how human rights work in the U.S., not just an inventory of rights with each discussed pretty much independently. IMHO, as it stands, the article is more an aggregation then a narrative. PētersV       TALK 13:57, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Fully support. I would say, not only the Constitution, but almost everything "must be judged relative to the circumstances of its day". To my opinion, the XVIII century's world was a world of white men of substance. Therefore, according to those times' mentality, by granting rights and freedoms to this category of population the American constitution granted these rights to everyone. Without any doubts, even taking into account that no (or minimal) rights were granted to non-white people, as well as to woman, the Constitution was a revolutionary document.
To expect that equal rights would be granted to everyone by American constitution is as ridiculous as to try to find there anything about copyright protection in Internet ...--Paul Siebert (talk) 00:20, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Anti-American

To the average reader, this entire articles screams "anti-American" ... i.e., it's quite obvious that there's an "agenda" here by certain left-wing editors, in particular one's from Europe, who believe there are no or very little human rights in the U.S. and believe that the U.S. has no freedom, etc. Any person with common-sense knows that is false. It's quite obvious that certain editors of this article are using it for the purpose of spreading anti-American propaganda, to make the U.S. look bad, etc. Yet any attempt to change this is reverted. 72.39.210.23 (talk) 01:04, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

And this comment is obviously written by a nationalistic United States person, which is fine, but it still doesn't mean the aritcle will forever "be defended" from having facts about its imperialism and continued racism inserted at various points. The key, of course, is to have those facts balance out with the 'more positive' aspects of its human rights record; it doesn't mean not to have the 'anti-American' facts in there to begin with. Kikodawgzzz (talk)
Someone who associates with communism would want to make the article biased. But this article is not meant to be a article that suits the needs of extremist fringe leftists. This article is to state the truth. This article does not state the truth. It states the truth according to a biased leftist view, to appeal to leftists such as yourself who have strong anti-American feelings. It doesn't change the fact that bias is not tolerated on wikipedia, NPOV, and you shouldn't be able to get away with your rampant anti-Americanism. 72.39.210.23 (talk) 01:30, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
It's an easy excuse to suggest that any criticism of the US is to be blamed on "communists", however, I'm afraid that this is simply not the case. Please point out where the criticisms in the article are based on "communist bias" and not the objective criteria of human rights standards and international law. Pexise (talk) 23:28, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
It's not his job to sort through the left-wing bias. If you're going to assert that the U.S. falls short of other nations with respect to human rights, it's your job to note who the critics are so that the reader can decide what should or shouldn't be taken seriously.
Some of us are proud that the U.S. didn't sign all these sham "human rights" treaties. It is some of the people in other nations who ought to be deeply ashamed. We may not be able to maintain objectivity in this article, but we should at least ensure that those who take sides today won't be able to slip away tomorrow.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:02, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
And you have consistently taken one side Randy2063. Pexise (talk) 21:23, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Actually the article reads as slightly glossing over the human rights abuses of the US, adding them only at the end of the article.
David

Please try to be constructive guys, I think to improve the article you'll have to identify things specifically that you disagree with. Saying the article leans too far left and needs fixing is fine, but we can't fix it if you don't identify the things you're talking about. TastyCakes (talk) 06:39, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

I inserted a {{by whom?}} tag into the article when I had added the above comment. It was meant to go along with the comment. If we're going to say that notable critics are claiming "human rights violations" then they need to be identified.
I compiled a brief list of notable organisations that have critizised the US for HR-failings: But given the lovely layout of the article I would ask if someone more experienced in editing could give me a hand with editing. Please? Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=393, Amnesty International USA, http://www.amnestyusa.org/us-human-rights/page.do?id=1011100, Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2010/united-states, United Nations Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx, The American Civil Liberties Union ACLU, http://www.aclu.org/human-rights/about-aclus-human-rights-program
thanks in advance, David



I don't have expectations that the anti-Americanism can be taken out. The best we can hope for is that the lede is sufficiently extreme to alert any serious readers as to what they're getting, and that we note who those notable critics are, so that they can be remembered.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:41, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree, that statement is too strong to include without a source. It has been tagged "citation needed" since last July, and if sources are still not provided maybe it's time to take the sentence out. TastyCakes (talk) 20:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't doubt that someone can eventually cite a source. I was more concerned that those critics' opinions are given attributions within the text.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:21, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Randy2063 - what is your definition of anti-American? Pexise (talk) 21:34, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Quite simply, anti-Americanism is opposition to the U.S. and/or its policies and/or its culture.
It's not about some definitions of anti-Americanism being different than others. It's about allowing views that aren't objective to influence the article. In saying that the U.S. has been criticized for certain actions, you're allowing an implicit assumption that the critics' views are the correct ones.
Then there's the matter of inane comparisons: Every nation on earth has its critics. We might as well create a WP template with that cited paragraph saying the nation has been criticized on this and that, and then apply it to the "human rights" articles for 98% of countries.
They criticize "the criminal justice system" as though other nations have nicer prisons -- which is obviously not true. Seriously, what purpose does that serve to the person who wants to learn about how the U.S. compares to where they live? While I'm sure Canada has nicer prisons than Illinois, most of the world (including most of the western world) does not. Clearly, these are criticisms for the sake of putting down the U.S. What we need is honest appraisals.
Their criticism on "national security issues" has been discussed. As I said, I'm proud that the U.S. has been criticized by our enemies and their advocates. All I can ask is these people are named and never forgotten.
Then there's this: "for its treatment of sexual orientation in the realms of anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage."
That one is truly stunning. America's laws on same-sex marriage mirror most of the non-Muslim world. For the U.S. to be criticized as a nation for this when we have an above-average view on same-sex marriage is pretty ridiculous. Our civil rights laws are far better than the norm.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 00:56, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
"They criticize 'the criminal justice system' as though other nations have nicer prisons -- which is obviously not true." Reality check:
  • The US has an adversarial penal justice system. Apparently the idea is that both sides (the state and the accused) pay representatives who then fight a kind of proxy battle. If the accused can't pay a lawyer, they get one for free, and if they are lucky he is even competent. State attorneys are allowed to prosecute as strongly as possible even when they know the defendant is innocent, and in some famous cases they have asked for a death sentence under such circumstances. This may sound like a fair system to you. It does not sound like a fair system to anyone in Europe. Nobody wins if an innocent defendant goes to prison or is killed. A German prosecutor acting in this way would go to jail if found out.
  • Probably in part due to the previous point: The US has the highest percentage of its population in jail of any country in the world. Seven times the European average. [7]
  • I found no data about the morbidity in prison in the US as compared to other countries. But there are plenty of studies concerned with the severe health problems of American prisoners as a consequence of the sentence. Many get AIDS or Hepatitis C in prison and infect others after their release. Released prisoners form a huge percentage of the general population with these diseases. Hans Adler 18:44, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
The justice system in the U.S. doesn't go out of its way to prosecute innocent people. You're talking about is isolated incidents of abuse that can happen anywhere.
Prisoners are able to infect others precisely because we don't lock them all up in solitary confinement. Ironically, solitary confinement is one of the criticisms listed in our section on prisons.
We have more prisoners largely because we have stiffer sentences for crimes. Criminals are more likely to go to prison, and they will stay there longer. European authorities will let anyone go at the drop of a hat.
I'm an opponent of the death penalty myself, and I used to argue against it by noting that Europeans have stopped executing prisoners. I've stopped doing so after they released the killer of Robert Stethem. Apparently, Europe doesn't have real "life" sentences either. There is no way to argue against the death penalty if the worst killers may eventually be released.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:03, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
It is known from scientific studies that harsher sentences do not have a measurably stronger deterring effect. By imprisoning more people you are not getting less crime. You are getting more crime due to socialisation of people as criminals (some people enter as a basically OK person with a normal job and a family, who was led to commit a crime by specific circumstances, and leave as hardened, well-connected full-time criminals with no legal job and no family) and you are getting health problems. And of course you are paying more taxes. Is feeling better than the losers by punishing them really worth it? I just don't get it. It seems to make sense in a rational way only if you think of it as an outlet for racism.
We don't have real life sentences as punishment since they are no more effective than shorter sentences. However, criminals who are expected to start killing after their release are often detained indefinitely as a precautionary measure. The human rights of people are restricted and they are imprisoned, not because they have given us a pretext by breaking a law, but because the prison sentence is expected to serve a specific beneficial purpose. This seems to be symptomatic for the difference between Europe and the US: In Europe those in power think, in the US they emote. (Of course Blair was American in this sense, and Obama is European in the same sense. As always, the differences within one culture are bigger than those between cultures.) Hans Adler 13:09, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Hans, please don't stir the pot. You don't improve the article at all by insulting America's criminal justice system and the people that put it there based on your own opinion. Likewise, your own pontification over the reasons things are done the way they are are of no benefit to the article and serve only to piss off Randy (and any other American reading it). I don't think there's any argument that some mention of American jails belongs in this article. It is simply a matter of deciding what are human rights issues and what is just one (completely legitimate) way of doing things. TastyCakes (talk) 16:22, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Such is the thinking that influences the article. Maybe we should have a section of the article that gripes about life imprisonment for murderers. Here's some context.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:50, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Personally I tend to think of anti-human rights Americans pontificating about anti-Americanism as stirring the pot. Hans Adler 18:08, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. I really wonder why people who are anti-human rights are involved in editing this page. Pexise (talk) 16:20, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
You're free to make such claims if you like, but you shouldn't ever get the idea that this is considered evidence that America's critics care about human rights whenever the shoe is on the other foot. The evidence shows that they don't.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:58, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure we could have a very interesting conversation about whether a criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation is better than one that's focused on punishment and incarceration, but this is not the place for it. Having a stricter system isn't, by itself, a human rights issue, and whether you think it's a good or bad idea is besides the point. I do not think you'll be able to find any reliable source that says that human rights are worse in the US than the EU because violent criminals are locked up for longer than they would be in Europe or elsewhere. TastyCakes (talk) 19:46, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
  • OK, but you shouldn't assume that any criticism of US policies is based on anti-Americanism. I agree that there are some un-warranted criticisms that may stem from anti-US sentiments. However, there are many legitimate criticisms where the US could certainly do better. If you ignore these criticisms, or try to suppress them, how will you ever improve?
  • Would you agree that suppression of criticism or dissent is itself anti-American? Pexise (talk) 16:22, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I appreciate what you're saying, Randy, that things are mentioned as human rights issues in the US when they are absent in similar articles for other countries where the situation is obviously much worse. However, I think it's more an issue of articles for those countries not being very thorough than this one being unfairly thorough. Part of the reason is that the US gets a lot more attention than these other places, there are far more people that want to shine a light on America's issues than, say, Saudi Arabia's. Another part is that the US is a much more open society than these other places, and issues that would just be swept under the rug in other places are in the plain light of day in the US, and so many human rights issues are codified in US laws and government that it is much easier to define and measure what is officially termed a human rights abuse. It is unfortunate for people trying to compare "human rights in the US" with "human rights in Saudi Arabia", for example, but I don't think it means this article is the problem. My opinion is that if there is reliable and notable sources that raise human rights related stuff about the US, it should be included in this article. However, some articles seem to have undue weight, particular the section on treatment of enemy combatants. I don't like the "Other human rights treaties not signed or signed but not ratified" - it seems unfair to give these without context. We don't know why these were not signed or ratified, we don't know who else didn't sign or ratify them, we don't know if there was some equivalent treaty ratified instead, we don't know the motivation for the actual treaties, and all of these things are critical for making any judgment on the US and its "human rights record". TastyCakes (talk) 20:25, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Tasty Cakes - thanks for your contribution. On the issue of the treaties not signed or not ratified by the US, I think this is a particularly important section in the article. The body of human rights treaties are the international standards against which all countries measure themselves. The fact that the US hasn't ratified many of these is extremely concerning and very significant in the sphere of human rights. It's particularly concerning that the treaties on child and women's rights have not been ratified, in fact President Obama has called the failure to ratify the convention on child rights "embarrassing":

"It's important that the United States return to its position as a respected global leader and promoter of Human Rights. It's embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in Human Rights." REF

I would be in favour of adding information about how many other countries have not ratified the specific treaties, and agree that this will add context. It is particularly interesting to note that EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD APART FROM SOMALIA has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US is one of just 7 countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the others being Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga. Pexise (talk) 21:49, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree - adding context would make the information much more useful. Right now, however, it is not clear which treaties the US is notably absent from, and have been criticized for, and which are just "filler", forgotten conventions not signed for forgotten reasons. I think the list should be shortened to include just the ones that the US has taken significant criticism (from reliable sources) for not signing, and each of those things should be given a bit of context (why, who else etc). I don't want to be a huge nitpicker here, but the article is "Human rights in the United States", not "US involvement in international human rights". I think there is a place for some discussion of the subject here, but I think its size and scope should be limited here and redirect to a more thorough article, maybe international human rights or something. TastyCakes (talk) 22:17, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Two points: all of the conventions and treaties mentioned are notable - they are the basic treaties of international law. Also, the article redirects from Human Rights and the United States, which was the original title of the article. I would be happy to see it changed back. Pexise (talk) 22:42, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Well maybe they're notable, but I don't think they have been demonstrated as notable for this article. Are there sources we can point to that confirm them as being fundamental to international law? As far as naming the article, I wouldn't really mind, but I think it was set to the name it is so it follows the same convention as all the other "Human rights in..." articles. But again I have no strong feelings one way or the other.
I would note that no other Human rights articles I've seen include a list of treaties the country has or hasn't signed regarding international human rights. I know this is kind of backwards from the argument I made above to Randy, but if the scope of other fairly substantial human rights articles for similar countries (Human rights in the UK comes to mind) does not include an exhaustive list of international treaties it has or hasn't signed, why is the scope in this article so much wider? To me, the list is of limited use, it is somewhat misleading because it presents so little context, practical consequences of US signing or not signing individual items may be limited and the article is already pretty long. Trimming it seems reasonable, but I'm open to other solutions... TastyCakes (talk) 23:20, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that some explanation could be given to the specific treaties - however, readers can easily link to the articles about the treaties which explains what they are, number of ratifications etc.
The human rights in the UK article does not include such a list because the UK has signed nearly all of these treaties, as well as the treaties from it's regional human rights mechanism (the EU). In fact, the US is unique as a "Western democracy" in having ratified so few international human rights treaties. Pexise (talk) 23:42, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
The UK may have signed those treaties but they added reservations to some of them. Even at that, it appears to me that they're having second thoughts.
It's extremely misleading to say that every other country had signed them when it doesn't mean very much that they did. Who is it that believes a woman or a child in Saudi Arabia has more rights than they would if they were in the U.S.?
Again, it's not the place of Wikipedia to imply that ratifying these treaties is a good thing. I think it's okay to say that we didn't sign them as long as we can address the reasons why not. Then let it be a mark of shame on nations that supported those treaties.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 00:27, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say there isn't some legitimate criticism of the U.S. I only said that what we have here is biased, and that we shouldn't let the reader assume that Wikipedia agrees with the position of the critics.
I agree that we could do better, but that needs to be framed properly. It makes no sense for a reader in the middle east, who may want to protest for gay rights at home, to walk away with the impression that conditions in the U.S. are just as bad as where he lives.
Of course suppression of criticism is un-American. Even if I had that in mind, it would take years to undo that here.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:44, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
The article only seems to say that there are criticisms about laws regarding same-sex marriage, not that gay people are persecuted or anything similar. Pexise (talk) 19:48, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
But it should be compared to other countries. Besides that, I think Bruce Bawer would argue that there are other considerations.
There is also the question of what WP's policy should be on gay marriage. Most people in the world say it's not a "human right."
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:09, 18 January 2010 (UTC)