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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Superman, and the American Way

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PenPoint by Jim and Jean Anton

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is arguably most hated man in America.   He also may be the man who hates America most.   He also believed in America as much as he hated it.   He believed in America even more than some other Americans, who claim they love America, believe in America.  

He believed in the Superman myth, the one that proclaimed belief in "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

But let us put Tsarnaev aside for a moment.   Let us look at the Superman myth and the American way: Superman believed the American Way is embodied in the Sixth Amendment.  

The Sixth Amendment is America at its finest -- its most noble.   It represents, at its core, the ultimate wisdom of America's Founding Fathers.   It is so innate to the enlightened soul of America that we've never before questioned it.   We took it for granted, at least until 9-11.   The events of 9-11 gave anti-American-way people a chance to abrogate the Sixth Amendment, which is the amendment they hate most, without exception.

The Founding Fathers made no exceptions.   They could have said, "almost every citizen is covered by it."   They could have said "Nice people are covered by it or" if the case against the accused is strong, if the accused is extremely dangerous, or if you just know that the accused is guilty, then the accused does not pass go, does not collect $200, he goes directly to jail."

But they didn't do that.   Instead they said that ALL citizens, no matter how vile they are, no matter how hideous they appear, no matter what evil they do -- even monsters and homegrown terrorists   -- have the right to Sixth-Amendment protections.    Because the Founding Fathers knew that depriving a single citizen of these rights deprived all citizens of them.

Which brings me to the most hated man in America, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  

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When this vile man was finally captured by the police, and questioned by the FBI for sixteen hours straight, he asked to have a lawyer present.   But his request was repeatedly denied.   It didn't matter that he was no longer a threat to public safety.   That he was no longer an emergency threat to law enforcement or to anyone.  

When he asked for a lawyer, he thought that America, the America protected by Superman's values and the Sixth Amendment, still existed.  

He did not realize that things have radically changed.   That today Americans are arrested without warrant, convicted without trial, and then whisked away to a dungeon or cage somewhere for the rest of their lives, where they are tortured and/or executed.   He didn't realize that some Americans are even summarily executed without any trial or judicial process whatsoever.   That all it takes to lose your freedom or your life in America today is a nod of the head of the president, whether the president be Bush, Obama or...   just anyone.

   Tsarnaev should have known.   But he didn't.   He kept asking for a lawyer.

   That must have made his interrogators laugh.   But they probably laughed too soon.

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   He finally got his wish, not because the Justice Department or Obama or the FBI or the Boston Police respected the Sixth Amendment, but because a Federal Magistrate, Marianne B. Bowler, on her own, advised him of his "right to remain silent" and appointed him a lawyer.

   I guess she figured that since the Sixth Amendment is still on the books, it applies.   She no doubt believed that Tsarnaev was probably guilty as hell.   But she did not believe that "fact" gave anyone -- not the president nor anyone in Washington or the FBI -- the right to deny him his Sixth Amendment rights.

   That makes Ms. Marianne Bowles a hero.

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More of James and Jean Anton's work can be found at

James and Jean Anton were born and raised in New York City, and spent ten years living and working abroad in countries as diverse as Brazil, Italy and Iran. They have written and illustrated books for Scholastic Inc, McGraw Hill, Macmillan, and Sterling Publishers. They have authored and illustrated a weekly column called Dr. Crystal's Cosmic Kid Stuff for the Pennywhistle Press section of the Gannett News Service. In addition, they worked as editorial cartoonists, having received Best Editorial Cartoon awards from the New York Press Association (the Phoenix and Villager Newspapers in New York City). They are also playwrights. One of their plays, Freaks, was finalist in the Actors' Theater in Louiville's National Playwriting contest. They are presently working on a book of editorial/satiric art/commentary entitled: HEADLINES.

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We should understand that if we allow exceptions t... by James and Jean Anton on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7:09:22 AM
Pictures and videos show Dzhokhar carrying a white... by Richard Eastman on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 5:13:12 PM
Presumption of innocence is what the 6th Amendment... by James and Jean Anton on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 9:31:30 AM
why the authors after seeing how the rest of the w... by Archie on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 9:22:25 PM
CIA Contracted "Historian" and college professor m... by Joe Giambrone on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 1:14:46 PM
"I Hope I Didn't Contribute To It" By Mark Ames"... by Joe Giambrone on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 1:18:52 PM