Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Abortion

Having been asked for clarification about what I find unjust about the ruling in Roe vs Wade, I'll elaborate.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Texas statutes regarding abortion were vague and infringed on a woman's constitutional right to privacy. The statute outlawed all abortions except those procured from a licensed physician in order to save the life of the mother.

There is no constitutional right to privacy.

Norma McCovey (Jane Roe) claimed that her inability to legally terminate her pregnancy, which was not life-threatening, infringed on her 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th amendment rights.

I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

V. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


IX. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


XIV. section 1 - All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


First of all, a law prohibiting abortion is not an attempt to establish a religion, or infringing on someone's right to practice their religion. Nor does it affect free speech, the freedom of the press, peaceable assembly or petitioning.

The fourth amendment protects people from unlawful searches and siezures. The only way this could be interpreted to apply to pregnancy would be to say that the government is not allowed to find out if a woman is pregnant and then seize her unborn child.

The fifth amendment prevents people from being executed, imprisoned or deprived of property without due process of law. It also prohibits someone from being tried twice for the same offense, from having to be a witness against him or herself, and requires just compensation for property taken for public use. This amendment would be more properly applied to the unborn child than to the woman wishing to terminate her pregnancy. The child does not receive the benefit of a jury or of due process of law before being executed.

As for the ninth amendment - abortion was never a right retained by the people until the Supreme Court declared it to be so in 1973.

And now for the fourteenth amendment. First, we all know good and well that when the constitution was established abortion was not a privilege or an immunity. The state was not depriving the woman of life by not allowing her to obtain an abortion when her life wasn't threatened, nor were they depriving her of liberty, or taking her property.

<<<>>>

I have heard people argue that a human being does not gain a soul until they have drawn their first breath. Personally, I take the position that since science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the soul, one cannot take that into account when determining whether or not a woman should be allowed to terminate a non life-threatening pregnancy.

Here is a question: is the embryo created from a fertilized human egg a human being? Science answers yes. It is not simply a lump of tissue, nor is it an extension of the mother's body, nor is it a rat, a chimpanzee, or a dolphin.
From the earliest stages of its development the human embryo has its own unique human DNA.

Why are we willing to protect a human being from the moment of birth until the moment of death, but not prior to birth? Is it any less human just because it is not fully formed? None of us are born fully formed. It takes years for us to mature into an adult of our species.

Some people might argue that an unborn child is parasitical in nature, taking its sustenance directly from its mother's body. In response to this argument I will point out that the child, once born, still requires sustenance which it cannot obtain by itself. If I were to deny my children that sustenance I would be considered abusive and negligent and would probably have my children taken away from me.

Unwanted pregnancies are a temporary inconvenience. Death is permanent.

Now that we have determined that an unborn human being is not worthy of the same protection by law that the rest of us enjoy, what is to stop us from labeling other groups as "sub-human" and stripping them of their constitutional right to life? The elderly, retarded and disabled are all in danger of being treated the same way. (For the record, Thomas Jefferson reconciled slavery with 'all men created equal' by claiming that blacks were not human.)

<<<>>>

For the record, I've known two women that chose to terminate unplanned pregnancies. I don't despise them or condemn them for that choice; I do believe it was the wrong choice, a choice based on fear.

Women facing an unplanned pregnancy without the means and support needed to raise a child do need options, but not at the expense of the weak and defenseless - human beings without the ability to speak for themselves. The unborn child has done nothing wrong. It has comitted no crime worthy of death. This is why I believe that the decision made by the Supreme Court in 1973 was unjust.


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Thanks to Heidi

Monday, November 27, 2006

Crime and PUnishment part III

(This post will deal largely with prisons, which is where convicted criminals usually serve their sentences and which are run by the state or federal government. Jails are usually run by the county and serve as a place for booking, pre-trial detainment and brief incarceration.)

Another aspect of Torah law which I really like is that there were no prison sentences. Once it had been established by at least two or three witnesses that someone had committed a crime worthy of the death penalty, the execution was carried out promptly. Lesser crimes required that restitution be payed to the wronged party.

Take theft, for instance. When caught, the thief was required to give back whatever was stolen, plus extra - anywhere from double what was stolen to five times what was stolen, depending on what was stolen and whether or not (in the case of an animal) it was recovered alive. If the thief could not pay restitution, he was sold as a slave and the proceeds given to the wronged party. The thief could not be sold to anyone other than his own countrymen, and was required to be released after six years of service.

While many people believe that prisons help protect society from bad people, that belief is sadly mistaken. As Roci pointed out months ago in a post on Clarence Ray Allen, the 76 year-old man executed at the beginning of the year, prison does little to protect society from dangerous people. Allen, already serving life in prison for murder, arranged three other murders from inside prison, for which he subsequently received the death penalty.

While it is possible that a short term served in prison might scare a first-time offender straight, it is just as likely that the time will serve to leave the person with severe emotional scars that will make returning to a normal life difficult. I believe that the chance of the prison environment helping form career criminals is much greater than the chance that it will help to rehabilitate those incarcerated.

I have heard that there are many men that, once released from prison, will go out and commit another crime so that they can go back to prison. This makes perfect sense to me. While in prison, the inmate has a roof over his head and a bed to sleep in. He gets three meals a day. He gets access to television and a recreation yard; depending on the prison he may also get access to a gym, be able to attend workshops and earn a degree. The majority of this will be paid for by the tax-payers. Once he is released, the former inmate is required to find a job so that he can pay for his own living quarters, food, etc. Having been branded a felon, it will be difficult for him to find a job that pays well, at least through legal means. He is also a pariah in most social circles. Is it any wonder that many individuals, usually socially retarded and immature to begin with, choose to go back to an environment in which most of the responsibility for their well-being is taken out of their hands?

My husband works in one of the county jails, and he has compared the inmates' behavior to that of children many times. Prison does not help these people gain maturity and become responsible for their lives - it makes them perpetual children.

Placing violent criminals in confinement does not prevent them from harming other people. The deputies and civillians that assist in running the prisons, as well as the other inmates, are still in harm's way. There are also plenty of instances in which someone behind bars has arranged violent crimes to be committed by contacts on the outside. Non-violent criminals are not really a danger to society in the first place, and placing them in prison exposes them to risks and violence which their crimes did not merit. Savage beatings, homosexual rape and even murder are possibilities for anyone serving prison time. While most of the violence is likely to come at the hands of other inmates, there is certainly the chance for violence received at the hands of corrupt deputies and their superiors.

The prison environment can be psychologically damaging to the deputies as well. Deputies run the risk of becoming unable to interact normally with people outside of the police force. Being exposed to the worst society has to offer day in and day out can leave them jaded and cynical, unable to trust anyone. Obviously this can be damaging to their family relationships as well. The deputies sometimes have problems remembering that the control and watchfulness they need to exert in the prison environment are not needed in their own home. And is it any wonder that, when surrounded by people such as the man that likes to rape pregnant women, deputies begin to either turn a blind eye when other deputies get violent with the inmates, or participate in the violence themselves?

I also believe by using prison systems, our legal system has greatly contributed to the 'nanny-state' mentality of most American citizens. Instead of understanding that it is our responsibilty to protect ourselves and our property, we look to the government to do this for us. Then we get indignant when they fail to live up to our expectations and perform the way we think they should.

Although it is unlikely that I will ever see an end to the use of prisons in America, I hope that I have at least given some food for thought. Most people either take the prison system for granted or seek for ways to improve it and have probably never considered trimming it down until incarceration is only used for pre-trial detainment (or for holding beligerent drunks until they sober up). If anyone reading this has anything to add, any objections or questions, feel free to place them in the comments.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More on Crime

I would like to see far fewer laws. I believe Jim has already mentioned this over at his blog. I'm sure we would both have different ideas about what laws would need to go and which would need to stay, but we're both in agreement that the legal system has far too many laws on its hands.

I may receive criticism from some people for saying this, but I would like to see our country return to something closer to the American West as it was being settled. Many people see that as an era of lawlessness, but I see it as an era of personal responsibility. People knew that they were taking their lives in their hands and taking quite a risk in packing up their families and heading west. There was very little to no law enforcement in the west at that time. People knew that they would be responsible for their own safety and that of their family. Men, women and even many children knew how to handle a gun and were prepared to defend themselves.

Did a lot of people die? Sure. But where on earth did we get this notion that the government and law enforcement are somehow supposed to fight tooth and nail to insure that no one dies? Death is inevitable.

Recently, I heard Vox Day use the term "observable natural selection". I like that term. Quite frankly, there are some people that just seem to be "too stupid to live". Why should the government protect these people from themselves? Honestly, why should the government be protecting ANYONE from themselves? Let people make mistakes, even if those mistakes might be fatal, for themselves and for others. Accidents happen and bad people exist and it is silly to think that adding more and more laws to our legal system is ever going to change that.

I'll put it in terms that most parents that might read this will understand. When your child is young, you look out for them. You protect them from themselves. You keep them away from the stove, water deeper than a couple of inches, sharp implements, etc. You monitor what they watch, what they read, what they listen to and whom they spend time with. But as your child gets older, you start placing the responsibility for all of that into his or her hands. Your child is not likely to be living with you for the rest of their life, and they need to learn how to make their own decisions. Do they make stupid mistakes and bad decisions? Yes! But (ideally) they learn from those mistakes. Anyone that continues to molly-coddle their child after their child is grown creates a monster. The adult child is dependent on its parents and has no idea how to run its own life. I've seen this happen, and it is not a pretty picture!


The government should not ever be treating its citizens like children. It should be treating its citizens like responsible adults, because that is what they are supposed to be.

Some of the laws I would like to see taken away include mandatory school attendance, speed limits, gun control, mandatory use of seat belts, helmets and child restraint devices.

I'm sure some of the things I've mentioned might raise a protest. Why take away the laws about child restraint devices. Why? Because the children belong to the parents and the parents should be the ones to decide whether or not their child is in a car seat. If the parent is stupid enough not to restrain their child and their child dies because of it, well there you go. I bet that parent will put any further children they have into the proper safety seats. Yes, it's sad when a child dies. Does that mean the government should be responsible for telling people how to raise their children? NO! The government should only be stepping in for extreme abuse or negligence, like when someone has been keeping their kid in a cage, or starving them, or beating them. For the record, spanking is not beating.

The same principle applies to mandatory school attendance. Someone might argue that if parents aren't forced to send their children to school, the child might not receive an education and would be cruelly held back from success. Bullshit. There are plenty of people out there that did not receive the typical childhood education, but they had the will to succeed and they sought out the knowledge they needed as an adult. Education does not equal success and happiness. There are plenty of children that are forced into going to school every day that are still going to be miserable failures. It is NOT the government's job to insure that people grow up to be a success! Tax payer money should not be used for education. Period. Bring back the days of apprenticeship. There are plenty of people that would probably be happier and more successful if they had the chance to enter a trade as a teenager instead of going through high school and college.

I would just like to take this moment to point out that it is never a government's job to protect people from themselves. It is the people's job to protect themselves from the government!

I'll probably post more on this later, but I've got to go get a shower and then head out to do laundry.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Crime and Punishment part I

If our "justice" system is not corrupt and evil, then it is at the very least hopelessly inept and bound up in bureaucratic red tape and special interest groups. Now, I know that there are plenty of good, honorable people working within our legal system. My statements are not aimed at these people, but rather at the system itself, and the people that knowingly helped bring it to its current state.

Where is the justice when a young man is sentenced to life in prison for selling drugs to someone that subsequently overdosed on them*, while a man convicted of sexual contact with a twelve-year-old escapes prison because the he is too short?

Where is justice when three young men are being prosecuted for a rape of which they were accused but which there is no evidence for, while at least one witness has already poked holes in the accuser's story?

Where is the justice when a young man is given the death penalty for a crime, based solely on flimsy circumstantial evidence and another young man's sketchy (and later retracted) confession/accusation? The West Memphis 3

Where is the justice when the Supreme Court opens the door for women to declare "my body, my choice", even though science proves that the body being torn limb from limb, poisoned, or being stabbed in the head to remove its brains is, in fact, not the woman's body at all? Abortion Methods

In our legal system, men receive the shaft when going through a divorce, rarely being awarded custody of the children they are expected to continue paying to support.

Girls, age 12 to 16 are the most protected bracket in America. If they use a false ID to obtain access to an 18+ club and subsequently have sexual contact with a man met at that club, that man, if caught and convicted, becomes branded a sexual predator for life. Never mind if he had no idea that his consensual partner was underage.

People growing marijuana have their doors beaten down by the police, while violent criminals are routinely released back into society.

Here in my own city, thousands of tax-payer dollars are spent performing stings in adult clubs, supposedly to insure that our 'six-foot rule' is enforced, the one that prohibits the men and nude dancers from getting within six-feet of each other. Never mind that all of this is taking place behind closed doors between consenting adults.

So, these are some examples of why I believe our justice system is no longer very just. Next, I'll cover my views on capital punishment. After that, I'll tackle prisons - provided I have enough time.

*I used to go to church with this man and his family, which is how I found out about it.

Update: My second post shows up underneath this one. Probably because I started it first, but finished it after this one.

Crime and Punishment part II

In the past, my view could be desribed using the words of Joseph Stalin: "Kill them all, God will know his own." Then I stumbled upon the case of the West Memphis 3 and suddenly I began to doubt my stance. Now, I believe in the G-d of the Bible, and my views regarding justice are based on this belief. I decided to re-read the laws G-d had put forth in the Torah regarding murder. Lo-and-behold, I had forgotten a very important thing - for someone to be convicted of murder, at least two witnesses were required! I found that G-d cared so much about innocent life that He was willing to allow someone to escape human justice in order to protect it.

Of course, G-d also did not have varying degrees of murder. There was no murder one or murder two. There was only murder and manslaughter, and manslaughter was only instances where a death was caused entirely by accident - for a modern day example, someone that strikes and kills someone that steps out in front of their car. In G-d's law, if someone got in a fight with someone else and killed them, even if that had not been their intention, it was still murder because it was brought about by intentionally violent actions, and thus merited the death penalty.

This leads me to vigilantism. I used to be a big fan of vigilantism. While I still love the movie Boondock Saints and Batman is still my favorite superhero, I no longer find myself in support of vigilantism. This change was also partly based on my reading of Torah law. Torah law gave out the death penalty for several different crimes. Most of the time, the death penalty was required to be carried out by the convicted offender's entire village - public stoning. Only in the case of murder was the punishment turned over to the victim's family. They designated a "blood avenger" whose task it was to take the life of the perpetrator and see that justice was done. This is the closest the Torah ever comes to vigilantism. Even here, however, we find that justice was tempered with compassion. In the event of a manslaughter, the manslayer could flee to a designated city of refuge, where his case would be brought to trial. If he was found to have killed the person unintentionally, and not through any malicious action on his part, then he was set free, though required to remain in the city of refuge until the death of the current high priest. If the manslayer set foot outside the city before the death of the high priest, and the blood avenger found him, then the blood avenger had the legal right to dispatch the manslayer right then and there. Provided this did not happen, upon the death of the current high priest the manslayer was free to return to his home unmolested.

In addition to the Torah law, I did have the realization that it is far too easy for one person's judgement to be clouded, or for their actions to be based on flawed information. Therefore, while I still truly enjoy reading Batman's adventures, I would not be able to support a Batman-esque crusade in real life.

Now, my friend Pat had asked in the comments of my Various & Sundry Items post if I had ever seen a man die. I have not. But I truly believe that, while I would be profoundly affected, I could personally end the life of anyone that had maliciously murdered one of my family. I'm also reasonably certain that I would be at peace about that decision afterward. I would be capable of doing the same to anyone that raped or otherwise sexually molested my children. Of course, if I were (G-d forbid) to be faced with either of those situations, I know that I would probably not choose to take the life of the perpetrator, simply because in our current legal system I would probably go to jail for it, and I wouldn't want to be taken away from my children.

So, while I sympathize with vigilantes, I no longer support their actions. I do still wholly support the death penalty; I no longer support convicting people of murder based solely on circumstantial evidence. However, in a case where at least two witnesses have testified to a person's guilt, I believe that the penalty should be death and that it should be carried out swiftly. No sitting around in prison for years, with a warm bed and three meals a day provided by the tax-payers, while the victim's body is rotting away in the ground. In my belief that people that rape little children should also receive the death penalty, I apply the same standards.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Various & Sundry Items

My blog's recent comatose state was due to a visit from my sister and her 19 month old son. It was an enjoyable visit, but very frenetic. I don't think either of us felt very rested afterwards!

The weather has been glorious here. What passes for "cold" weather in Florida has arrived. The heat and humidity during our extra-long summer leaves me feeling sluggish and irritable, so when fall finally arrives I feel like I've come out of hibernation. Suddenly I have energy again and want to accomplish things and go places!

I was musing the other day and came to the realization that it's a good thing that stage fright exists, otherwise we might have more politicians.

I read an article about how Iowa is trying to enact tougher standards for where convicted child molesters can live. Critics claim that it puts a high concentration of child molesters in a smaller area, and simply leads to missing and homeless offenders, making it harder for the system to keep track of them. They also say that it won't have much impact on the amount of child rapes and molestation, since 90% of incidents come from someone the child already knows and interacts with. I have no doubt that is true, so I offer this solution... shoot the bastards! Oh for days long past, before the long arm of the law became writhing tentacles, entangling law-abiding citizens and protecting the corrupt and evil.

Well, although our poor Oldsmobile went the way of the salvage yard recently, we were blessed with a good deal on a 97 Saturn two days later. It has a few minor problems, but seems like a decent little car. It is also more fun to drive than the Olds, which was very sluggish. It also looks a more respectable. The Olds had become quite disreputable, reminding me of an old, grumpy man that no longer cares what people think of him, and dresses and behaves accordingly.

Speaking of cars - I have to curb my urge to speed. On the interstate, I'll travel up to 15 miles over the speed limit, but off the interstate I keep it to 5-10 over, depending on the location. My husband teases me about this, and quite clearly expects that I will one day be pulled over for speeding. He, on the other hand, already drives like an 80 year old man. He'll be the one going 5 miles under the speed limit, with a long line of frustrated drivers behind him. This is because he slows down as he either gets lost in thought, or starts a conversation with his passenger(s). The other day, I got my chance to poke fun at him, because he got pulled over for going 20 miles over the speed limit! For once, being lost in thought had the opposite effect. Luckily for him, he works for the county sheriff's office, and they don't bother to ticket their own.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I WIN!

Me - 1
Dental Hygienist - 0

A week after Benjamin was born I went in for a dental appointment; my first since I was eight or nine years old. To my pleased surprise, the dentist informed me that I had good sound teeth and no cavities. I just needed to go to an oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed and have a good cleaning, the latter of which the office's dental hygienist could provide. They have three levels of cleaning, a light one for maintainance, a medium for people with some infection and inflamation, and a deep cleaning for people that have more serious problems with their teeth and gums.

My husband had also had an appointment; he was told he would only need the light cleaning, while I would need the mid-level cleaning. So we each scheduled our appointments for the one day during the week in which the dental hygienist is present. My husband went first, but arrived back home shortly afterwards, having told me the dental hygienist had complained that his gums were bleeding too much and that he needed the mid-level cleaning. His private opinion was that his gums were only bleeding because of how rough she was, a problem he had not had with past cleanings. (His dental appointments have been more frequent than mine!)
He wanted her to continue with the light cleaning, because he could always come back later if needed. To make a long story shorter, after some mutual antagonism, my husband decided to take his business elsewhere.

I really wanted the cleaning, and I had liked the dentist and his assistants, so I decided I would go anyway and see how things turned out. Well, one look at the dental hygienist's face and I could tell why my husband had not gotten along with her - she had the sour face of a bitter woman. It is my guess that her bitterness is probably aimed more towards men, because she treated me politely. She went ahead and performed the mid-level cleaning, but she was agitated by the state of my gums and said that she was going to recommend that the deeper cleaning be performed.

Today, I had my follow-up visit with the dentist. Fortunately, it was not the dental hygienist's day to be in the office. He checked my gums and said that they were improving and that it was unlikely that I would need a deeper cleaning. My only real problem areas are the wisdom teeth, and the inflamation and tendency towards infection will clear up once they are removed.

The dental hygienist must try to bully the dentist and his staff, because the dentist sounded vaguely irritated when speaking of her recommendation. Then, when his assistant took me to the counter to sign out, she wanted to know if I would go ahead and set up the appointment now, even though it wouldn't be for at least three months, because otherwise the dental hygienist... and here she rolled her eyes heavenward and waved her hands, which I took as an indication that the hygienist would have a fit. Amused, but willing to spare them that trial, I scheduled my appointment.

Then, after leaving it occurred to me -
I win! No deep cleaning for me!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hilarious!


Internet user tombranch: Poor John. He can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth!

Found via Astrosmith.

Ben Stein...


...is a cool guy. Thanks to an e-mail forward, I discovered his website, which contains the knowledge and common sense so sadly lacking in our country these days. From Stuff Ben Wrote:

It is earnings season, when big companies report their last quarter’s earnings to the public. Wall Street predictions are that the big oil companies are going to report larger than usual profits this quarter, as they did last quarter, and thus we can predict something else. In editorials and on Capitol Hill, there will be cries to have new taxes on the oil companies. Oil company executives will be lambasted in hearings and the witch hunt will be on.

I don’t get it. Why are we angry at the oil companies? Is it because of high gas and heating oil prices ? But wait: The oil companies don’t set the world price of oil. That’s set in trading rooms in banking houses in New York and London and Hong Kong by young guys who make zillions each year. There is absolutely no evidence that the oil companies are colluding to fix prices at artificially high levels. Those prices are set, again, by traders with Ferraris, not by John D. Rockefeller, who has been dead for many years.

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I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

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