I saw it recently - I thought it was pretty good. From what I've heard, the point of the film wasn't so much that 'the rights of the criminal are BAD', it was a commentary on the public and media bias of the times, which (from what I've heard) was slanted extremely over to one side, focusing almost exclusively on the rights of the criminal, and very little on the rights of the public to be protected against criminals. (This was why Eastwood took the part, anyway.) Then, as you said, in the next decade things tilted all the way over to the other side, and suddenly people were roaring about how we were coddling the criminals. The film itself doesn't really take either of those points, I don't think - it's more about how a complete slimeball like Scorpio can manipulate the system for his own ends, and how desperate times require desperate measures, i.e, Dirty Harry. It wasn't saying he was the preferred option, just that sometimes he's the only option.