Editorial board wrong on China situation
In “Embarrassment = six months in prison,” the Daily Kent Stater editorial employed flawed reasoning to conclude that Ms. Wenyi Wang should not be imprisoned for her violation of an American law. In order to strengthen its argument, the editorial, unfortunately, mischaracterized China’s human rights’ record and Falun Gong’s religious background.
Ms. Wang was courageous to stand up for her political views, but she must be prosecuted for her crime. The erroneous principle of the editorial’s reasoning stipulates that as long as Ms. Wang’s cause is legitimate, she should not be imprisoned for her crime. Accordingly, should environmentalists be spared felony charges if they choose to murder polluters to further their environmental causes? After all, an environmental cause is a noble pursuit. But common sense tells us that, in my hypothetical scenario, these environmentalists who have violated the law must be prosecuted according to the law. More compelling societal interests can be safeguarded through prosecuting these environmentalists than showing sympathy toward a just cause. How about human life? How about the integrity of a legal system that protects life?
Similarly, the societal interests served through prosecuting Ms. Wang for her crime are compelling. Prosecution must be based on the substance of a crime, not the viewpoints of the accused. A decision not to prosecute Ms. Wang would be a typical case of selective prosecution, because such a decision would be almost exclusively based on Ms. Wang’s political viewpoints. Should Ms. Wang be prosecuted if she had been shouting racial slurs or Nazi slogans? Selective prosecution based on viewpoints of the criminal must be avoided because the practice undermines the credibility and deterrence of the legal system. Without this credibility and deterrence, anyone who perceives his or her viewpoints are in alignment with the public and may be tempted to disregard laws and take justice into his or her own hands. Chaos will follow. Ms. Wang was in close proximity to President Bush and Hu. What if she thought she should have shot President Hu to avenge her perceived injustice?
To strengthen its arguments, the editorial mischaracterized China’s human rights’ record. China’s human rights’ record is inadequate. However, the suggestion that capital punishments were installed and used with a focus to suppress political dissent shows malice. The suggestion is not true. The allusion that the Muslim Uighur minority is being “persecuted” because of its religious beliefs can be misleading. Muslim Uighur militias are, however, considered by many as separatists who happen to be Muslims. Some of these fighters even joined Al-Qaida to be trained on terrorism and were captured in Afghanistan by Americans.
In order to create more sympathy for Ms. Wang, the editorial mischaracterized the essence of Falun Gong. I have to stress that Falun Gong practitioners must be allowed to follow and practice their religion. Yet, Falun Gong is not only a medication-exercise group described in the editorial, but it is also a fringe religious group even by American standards. Hongzhi Li, the founder of Falun Gong, claims to be the exclusive savior of mankind in this “Dharma ending” period. In Zhuan Falun, the most prominent religious text in Falun Gong, Li, who now lives in the United States, states “If I cannot save you, nobody else can do it.”
The editorial allowed mischaracterization of the facts and arrived at a questionable conclusion regarding Ms. Wang’s prosecution. All these do not change the fact that China’s human rights’ record is inadequate but does show, regrettably, an unintentional bias against China in the editorial.
Senior Institute research information officer