"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Friday, August 24, 2012

He is Getting What He Deserves...?

Europe is so enlightened.

They do not cruelly execute criminals, depriving them of their chance for redemption.

Norway, for instance, has shown remarkable compassion to Anders Behring Breivik.

You don't know him?

He only killed 77, yes 77 people in a slaughterfest last year in Norway.
"He is getting what he deserves," said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh on Utoeya. "This is karma striking back at him. I do not care if he is insane or not, as long as he gets the punishment that he deserves."
Breivik, who had surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertilizer bomb, killing eight, on Friday, July 22, 2011, then shooting 69 at the ruling party's summer youth camp.

What is it that he "deserves," according to compassionate Norway, for snuffing out the lives and futures of 77 mostly teenaged kids, some as young as 14?

The max of course!

21 years in a comfy, humanely-appointed Norwegian prison.

This despite his unrepentant claim:  "I stand by what I have done and I would still do it again." \

Ah, but fear not, noble Norway, your country is good hands, compassionate hands, and this result is not only NOT a mistake, it's a feature of Norwegian society:  
 "This attack has not in any way succeeded in redefining our liberal democracy," said Oslo University philosophy professor Lars Fredrik Svendsen. "The Norwegian judicial system has shown itself as rock solid during this trial."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 36

By way of Crimes and Consequences we learn that the death sentence handed down to Eric Robert by a South Dakota judge has been upheld.

It seems that Robert was in prison serving an 80 year sentence in maximum security prison for kidnapping  "a young woman.  At the time of the kidnapping, Robert’s vehicle contained rope, a shovel, and pornographic material."  While in prison for this, Robert:
assaulted [prison guard Ronald] Johnson by striking him with a lead pipe which they had acquired earlier specifically for that purpose. Johnson was repeatedly struck on the face and head with the lead pipe. An expert testified that the blows to the head continued after Johnson was on the ground. The attack fractured Johnson’s skull in at least three locations and exposed a portion of his brain. He also suffered defensive wounds to his hands and arms. After immobilizing Johnson with the pipe, Robert and Berget wrapped Johnson’s head in plastic wrap which prevented him from crying out and also from breathing.
Robert then dressed himself in Johnson’s uniform and Berget climbed into a box placed on a four-wheel cart.  Robert, dressed as Johnson, pushed the cart toward the west gate of the penitentiary.  After observing that Robert did not swipe an ID badge, Correctional Officer Jodi Hall confronted Robert about his identity.  When Robert’s explanation did not satisfy her, Hall notified Officer Matt Freeburg.  Freeburg told Hall to call the Officer in Charge.  At this time, Berget sprang from the box and he and Robert began assaulting Freeburg.  The inmates used Johnson’s radio to beat Freeburg.  Hall issued a distress call “Code Red – Code 3” on her radio.  While Berget continued the assault on Freeburg, Robert attempted to scale the exterior gate of the penitentiary but became entangled in razor wire.  Robert then attempted to grab a gun from the responding officers.
Manifestly, the "non-lethal means" used by South Dakota to render Robert harmless failed miserably, to the detriment of Officer Johnson and his loved ones.

Again, one must ask the Catholic abolitionist establishment, given this and many other like cases, just what "non-lethal means" we have at our disposal to render such offenders harmless, so that recourse to capital punishment is unnecessary or unjust in this country.

I won't hold my breath.

Nullification Thoughts

Yeah, I understand the whole libertarian, government-is-the-enemy thing, so I'm not surprised they are happy that New Hampshire governor John Lynch has signed a law allowing for so-called "jury nullification."

The gist of the libertarian complaint is that currently, juries decide what the facts of a given case are, and "the jury must accept the law as explained to them by the judge, whatever their own view of that law might be."

In other words, juries, in this view, ought to be able to decide not only facts, but whether a state's law ought to apply to these facts.  The problem with this, in my view, is at least two-fold:  the first problem is informational; juries are uniquely unequipped to figure out what the law is without direction from the Court, much less to place the law into context with other related laws, and to discern reasons for the law that may not appear obvious on the hasty examination a jury could make.

 Second, the jury nullifcation is, contrary to libertarian claims, anti-democratic.  The jury is not the legislature.  The democratic complaint that a tyrannical government can only be checked by jury nullification ignores the more compelling point that it is precisely the people who enacted the laws in question through their representatives.  Essentially, nullification is the argument that twelve jurors (or really even one, if one wanted to hold out) can unilaterally overturn the legitimate legislative decisions of their fellow citizens.  

This anti-democratic element of nullification is what separates the contemporary nullification situation from the oft-repeated assertions of the libertarians that our founders supported nullification.  If they did, they did so in a different situation,  when the issue was trial of colonials under imperial laws in the enactment of which the colonies had no democratic part.

Sorry, but the fact that libertarians don't like drug laws or certain traffic laws, and cannot persuade their fellow citizens to change those laws in the accustomed manner, is not reason enough to turn the courtrooms into policy debating salons.  With the amount of obfuscation and hindrance in fact-finding that already exists in the criminal trial process (exclusionary rule, anyone?) it is difficult enough for juries to be fact finders.  Asking them to be lawmakers unto themselves is asking too much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan, Thomist

Contrary to National Public Radio's assertion in its early reporting of Paul Ryan's selection as GOP vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan is not a Randian after all:
"I reject her philosophy," Ryan says firmly. "It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas," who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. "Don't give me Ayn Rand," he says.
I am shocked, shocked, that NPR got it so wrong.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Silent Majority...

...eats at Chick-Fil-A and opposes efforts to silence and marginalize traditional morality and the constitution of the family as understood in the West for the past 6,000 years.
Lines to and from Chester, Virginia Chick-Fil-A, 1:30 pm

Backed-up traffic the other direction

Backed-up traffic one direction
And it was like this the three or four times I drove by during the day.