Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the Death Penalty

At the National Catholic Register , Christine Williams writes that Catholics Debate Fate of Boston Marathon Bomber. After asking if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev crime warrants the death, Williams presents arguments for and against Tsarnaev's execution, without actually taking a stand either way herself.

That's not the case with Jonah Goldberg, who believes that the Boston bomber conviction puts death penalty opponents in an awkward spot.

Goldberg is an unapologetic supporter of the death penalty; that column is pretty much a repeat of a piece from July, 2012 -When a murderer is unsympathetic, death-penalty foes hold their tongues.

I don't expect to change Goldberg's beliefs on the subject; he's unlikely to be convinced by any argument I could put forth.

He asks:

How about now?
Are you in favor of the death penalty now?
I ask because the preferred argument from opponents of the death penalty is doubt: We can never be sure; look at all of the people released from death row; we can't afford to risk ending a single innocent life.

No, I am not in favor of the death penalty now. "Doubt" is not my preferred argument. I have absolutely no doubt that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty as charged. He's guilty as Hell, but bringing up Michael Slager - "the North Charleston, S.C., cop who shot Walter Scott in the back as he was fleeing and then allegedly lied about why he did it"- doesn't change my mind either.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2267)

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

As Christians, we are called to show mercy and forgiveness. I realize that this will fall on deaf ears when speaking to non-Christians.

From a statement released by the four Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts:

"As the Bishops of the United States said in their 2005 statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death,'no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.' We believe these words remain true today in the face of this most terrible crime".

So do I.

Further reading:Pope Francis: No matter what the crime, 'the death penalty is inadmissible'.
Pope Francis Would Spare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Life.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Hillary", "Clinton", or "Hillary Clinton" ?

In spite of the fact that the super pac supporting her is called Ready for Hillary , mcclatchydc.com is reporting that "some Americans, mostly women, don’t think the former secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady should be called by just her first name".

The article quoted one Monica Warek. “I think it shows the level of inequality that still exists in the workforce and just in general in society.”

The writer of the piece must agree with the premise; she referred to the would be presidential candidate as either "Clinton" or "Hillary Clinton".

The article goes on to say that "some wonder whether calling a female candidate by her first name reinforces gender stereotypes".

Wishing to present both sides, I suppose, the article speculates that same may prefer to call her by her first name because an online search for "Hillary" produces mostly news stories about the 2016 race, while a search of “Clinton” leads to information about Bill.

I performed my own little online experiment; I Googled "Hillary", "Clinton" and "Hillary Clinton". I captured screen shots of the results. As far as news stories go, the results were pretty much the same with all three; the biggest difference being that the search for "Clinton" put Bill's wikipedia bio above hers.

The most striking differences came when looking at the images associated with each name. As one can see in the screenshots, the images associated with "Clinton" were nearly entirely of Bill, while the other searches produced images of her.

It appears to me that the images found with the search for "Hillary" turned negative faster that the images associated with "Hillary Clinton". The "vampire photos" came up quicker when "Hillary" was used in the search engine.

What does my little experiment prove? Probably, not much. It's possible that "Hillary" may have more negative results, but with all searches, results could change as time goes on.

We'll know the answer when we hear how Mrs Clinton's friends and enemies refer to her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Craig Hicks Judged to be "Death Penalty Qualified".

Craig Stephen Hicks, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the February 10, 2015 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha is "death penalty qualified" according to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr..

Police have said Hicks appeared to have been motivated by a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the condominium where he lived in the same building as Barakat and his wife.The victims' families are adamant, however, that they were murdered because they were Muslims and have pushed for hate-crime charges.

I'm not at all certain how hate crime charges would affect Hicks' sentence should he be convicted. After all, he can only be executed once.

It's been reported that prosecutors have said that "Hicks confessed; that he was arrested with the murder weapon, a handgun that ballistics experts matched to shell casings recovered at the apartment; that there was gunshot residue on his hands; and that blood from one of the victims was on his pants". The evidence seems to indicate that Hicks is guilty and will, in all likelihood, be convicted.

Regarding the death penalty, I have to be consistent in saying that Hicks should not be executed. I am not arguing that Hicks is innocent. I believe him to be guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. As I've written in the past, my opposition to the death-penalty comes from my belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church, statements made by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Being an atheist - or anti-theist - Hicks would probably disagree with my reasoning behind asking that he not be executed. Perhaps, life in prison may lead him to turn to God.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Al Jazeera Gets it Wrong on Pope's Easter Message.

In the lede to it's story on Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message, Al Jazeera could not have been more misleading. The headline reads:

"In Easter message, pope backs nuclear deal, decries 'absurd violence'
followed by

"In his 'Urbi et Orbi' message, the pope praised the framework nuclear deal with Iran as a way to make the world safer

Pope Francis does not, however, praise the deal. His one sentence on the nuclear deal reads -

"At the same time, in hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."

He is neither praising nor condemning the deal. He is praying to the "merciful Lord" in hopes that the deal will "be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world".

It is extremely unlikely that the Pope has any detailed information as to the contents to the agreement. Not knowing the details, he can merely "hope".

It appears that Al Jazeera received most of it's information on the Urbi et Orbi by way of The Associated Press. If that's the case, we will see further use of this propaganda in other "News" organizations' reporting on the Pope's recent message.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Speaking of “Unintended Consequences”...........

Bill Levin, founder of the, so called, First Church of Cannabis Inc believes he is putting a fast one over on the State of Indiana and its controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Critics of RFRA claim that the law was enacted in order that Christians could discriminate against LGBTXYZ12@%. Levin has responded to the Governor's signing of RFRA by filing paperwork with the State for the First Church of Cannabis Inc., which Levin claims uses marijuana in the "church's" religious ceremonies.

Progressive sites are calling it a classic case of “unintended consequences.”

I have no idea how this will hold up in court, but I believe Levin needs to consider the unintended consequences of mocking God.

No one seriously believes that smoking marijuana is an actual sacrament in this would-be church.

On the "church" Facebook page, Levin is soliciting donations:

Individual Membership Donations $4.20 per month
Donate $ 100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL.
Donate $ 500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL
Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA

Other than a list of "The New Deity Dozen", there is no mention of God in this "church".
Bill Levin - Minister of Love and Grand Pooba of the Church, proclaims we should all, "Practice these in your daily adventures in life, teach others to do the same".

1) Don't be an asshole. Treat everyone with Love as an equal.
2) The day starts with your smile every morning. when you get up, wear it first.
3) Help others when you can. Not for money, but because it's needed.
4) Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.
5) Do not take advantage of people. Do not intentionally hurt anything.
6) Never start a fight... only finish them.
7) Grow food, raise animals get nature into your daily routine
8) Do not be a "troll" on the internet, respect others without name calling and being vulgarly aggressive.
9) Spend at least 10 mins a day just contemplating life in a quiet space.
10) when you see a bully... stop them by any means possible. Protect those who can not protect themselves.
11) Laugh often, share humor. Have fun in life, be positive.
12) Cannabis, "the Healing Plant" is our sacrament. It brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.

I especially like #4. Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas......but it's OK to inhale smoke into your lungs, possibly setting yourself up for cancer or other lung diseases.

#7 tells us to raise animals. I'm guessing not for food, however, since #5 says we should not "intentionally hurt anything".

Levin may have pulled one over on Indiana, but not God. If Levin doesn't repent, he will one day suffer the consequences of his blasphemy.
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