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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

If Joshua Had to Go, Why Can’t Trump?

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Twenty-four-year-old democracy activist Joshua Wong is currently serving a 13.5 month prison sentence for his role in ‘inciting a siege’ at the police headquarters in Hong Kong. If he can go to jail from fighting for true democracy, why can’t Donald Trump also go to prison?

Trump incited a siege on more than the police headquarters. He created an insurrection against the heart of one other branch of government (legislature) meant to check presidential power. And this was after he manipulated the third branch of government (supreme court) with his friendly judges. Obviously Joshua and Trump are subject to two different legal systems. But think about the irony.

Counterargument: China’s draconian security law that imprisoned Joshua Wong has been labeled authoritarian, tyrannical and anti-democratic. In a free society, he had just expressed his freedom of speech. We shouldn’t be quick to jail everyone who stumble upon banned keywords set by an authoritarian regime. Why should we degrade our U.S. democracy to the same standards as China’s one-party system?

Domestic terrorists siege the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021

Rebuttal: It’s obvious some laws were broken during the Capitol siege. Already participants who violated property destruction and trespassing are being held to account. Instead of being quick to convict or being quick to ignore the big tamale question of whether Trump or anyone else coordinated the assault, focus should be placed on letting the laws already on the books work its way through the system. Investigating Trump’s culpability isn’t anti-democratic, it’s due process and part of our responsibility to maintain a clean house. It’s just a question of whether our ‘process’ has a software bug that needs fixing or is executing its firewall that needs to be left as is. But we have to run the program.

Often people get away scot-free if we don’t enforce what’s already been provided to us or if the system is easy to manipulate. It’s only after we see the limits of our agreed-upon system that we can work to strengthen or reform it so that deterrents are put in place and a clear process is created for the next time. Because as long as there are humans, there will always be a next time.

However, in any event, we should be in awe of the bravery of Joshua Wong. He is doing more in totalitarian danger than many of us are doing in democratic freedom.

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