Monday, October 10, 2011

ARGH

I am getting very frustrated by a certain mindset I keep running up against amongst the Christian community - that it is our moral responsibility to legislate morality, and that Christians should be involved in politics to make sure the laws that get passed are informed by Christian morality.

I can't find anything in the Bible that supports this notion. Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the gospel, not to preach the Torah. And if the gospel was rejected, the disciples were told to shake the dust off their sandals and leave those that had rejected the gospel to their own devices, to be dealt with by God.

The early Christians were never encouraged to enter politics and try to make the heathen masses live like Christians. Instead, the Christians were encouraged to live like Christ so that more would be drawn to salvation. And we know that once people are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and the Holy Spirit dwells in their heart, they will begin to act like Christ in a real way, not in a faux way only done out of compliance with their country's legal system.

So, what is the point of trying to legislate Christian morality?

Edit: I wish to clarify that I am not, in any way, denigrating the laws in the Torah or living a moral life, simply pointing out that telling people they must live morally is not what brings them to salvation.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The West Memphis 3

West Memphis Three - Wikipedia
Free the West Memphis Three
The West Memphis Three - TruTV Crime Library
The West Memphis Three Were Guilty (An opposing voice, for those of you that want to see what people are saying that still believe the men were guilty.)
Trial Transcripts (I have not yet read these, my knowledge of the trial relies on news articles and video clips from the trail in the documentary "The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills: Paradise Lost")

If you prefer to take a look at other sources, there is a wealth of additional material available with a google search.

I first read about the Memphis 3 as a young woman and the case played a large part in finding myself forced to re-examine my notions of justice, the American justice system and God's view of justice as visible in the Torah.

I was appalled at what I read. The circumstantial evidence in the case was incredibly flimsy. The 'confession' from Jessie Misskelly raised enormous doubts about the capacity of the West Memphis police department to investigate such a case without bias and with a willingness to follow correct legal procedures and to uphold the laws regarding the rights of those under suspicion for a crime.

I will state my opinion here: even IF these boys were guilty (and I do not believe they were), they never should have been convicted based on the evidence brought to trial - they never even should have been brought to trial in the first place.

I don't need to go into overwhelming detail on this post, because the information is so thoroughly covered in the linked sites. Suffice to say that I had sympathy for Damien Echols, in particular, because I too was an 'outsider' as a teenager. I wore black, listened to bands like Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Type O Negative, read horror novels from authors like Dean Koontz, and to top it off played Dungeons & Dragons and went to live-action role-playing games where I, and many other teenagers and young adults, pretended we were vampires.

Seeing Damien Echols in Paradise Lost years after I first learned of the case did little to diminish my sympathy for him, or diminish my outrage over the prosecution's successful efforts to paint him as a psychotic devil-worshiping cultist.

Damien Echols was an intelligent, egotistical teenager. He did seem to have a view of himself as the persecuted outsider, being targeted by 'the Man,' and he seemed to have a certain relish for that role. He was a smartass with an inappropriate sense of humor. I have no problem believing, after seeing footage of interviews, that Damien Echols got a kick out of telling outrageous lies in order to get people he had no respect for riled up. (He once told a youth leader at church that he could not accept a Bible, or accept Jesus and go to heaven, because he'd made a pact with the devil and was going to hell. That is -definitely- the sort of thing I can see several of my smartass, anti-establishment friends and acquaintances doing to someone in their younger years.)

He reminded me of myself. I felt like an outsider, so I embraced that role. Sought attention from that role. I felt as if people would not accept me and like me for who I was, but if they would not accept me and like me, they could at least
notice me and make me feel like more of a real person and less of an uncertain shadow. I collected 'scandalous' trivia about S&M sexual practices, not because I found the lifestyle attractive (though dominatrix outfits were pretty awesome) but because I was secretly pleased at the thought of what kind of reaction people might have when this skinny blonde girl in glasses used terminology belonging to a fetishistic, underground sexual scene.

I also found it telling that at one point in an interview, Damien is asked about a particularly gruesome rumor going around - the person speaking to him describes the rumor in very blunt terms. When Damien responds, he halts, and cannot actually use the same blunt terminology - he has to rephrase what he is about to say to something less crass and grotesque. I suppose some people might see that as some kind of mark of remorse or state of denial, but I saw it as the mark of a boy far less tough than he wanted to appear, whose mind could dwell on theoretical violence but was too tender for real violence.

And then there is Jason Baldwin. They had plenty with which to paint Damien Echols as a terrifying psychopath participating in evil religious rituals, but there was nothing to point to in Baldwin's case that made it remotely possible to link him with interest and pursuit of dark occultic power. Unlike Damien, there were no outrageous statements, no doodles, no books by people like Aleister Crowley on his reading list - no time spent under psychiatric evaluation. What on earth made them think it was probable that this teenager would help his friend rape, torture, beat and murder three eight year old boys, just because he happened to like heavy metal music, wearing black, and reading horror novels? Yes, I understand anything is possible, but that does not make it
probable.

Jessie Misskelley, the person who 'confessed' and pinned the blame on Echols and Baldwin was not a bright boy. He never really appeared to have a good sense of what was going on and what it meant for his long-term future. They had to tell him to keep his head down in court - more than likely because he clearly did not take what was happening seriously, and his occasional burst of cheer and good humor would not have been taken well in the courtroom, where no doubt the jury would have seen it as callous indifference, rather than incapacity to fully understand his situation beyond the present moment.

These boys had their lives stolen from them. Even with the supporters they garnered over the years, they'll never be able to have a 'normal' life, and there will always be people that believe they were guilty of these heinous crimes, and there will always be people that have a kernel of doubt and wonder if maybe they really were guilty. Damien Echols' newborn son had to grow up without his father, but with his father's reputation hanging over his head. And the rest of the family members of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley had to deal with this situation as well - the loss of a loved family member to the prison system, and the reputation (in the case of the parents) for having raised heinous, psychopathic sons.

This is wrong. This is a gross miscarriage of justice. This is every bit as wrong and evil as the crime that took the lives of three eight year old boys.

What saddens me the most about this whole sordid tale is the fact that people claiming to be followers of Jesus helped put these boys behind bars, and it took the attention of Hollywood celebrities and famous musicians to draw attention to the plight of these boys and help point out this gross miscarriage of justice.

Where were the conservative Christian voices speaking out against this travesty? Why is it that so many in the Christian community seem to gloss over the fact that God's own laws placed higher priority on preventing the shedding of innocent blood than on punishing the guilty? Religious fear and superstition combined with the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence led to two young men being sentenced to life in prison and a third young man being placed on death row. This is something that Christians should be ASHAMED of. This is not something Christians should support, or call 'justice.' Just because someone reads books about religions antithetical to Christianity and behaves foolishly in their social interactions does not mean they are the kind of monster that kills little children.
Superstitious fear of 'satanists' should not lead to wrongful conviction for heinous crimes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Update on the spawnling

Had my first visit with the midwife today; the initial estimate is 14 weeks but they're going to schedule a sonogram to try and verify that. The baby's heartbeat was strong and normal, which was very encouraging! Also encouraging is the fact that my miscarriages did not place me into a high risk category that would require I deliver at a hospital instead of the birth center.

So that placed me in a much better mood in which to deal with having to appear before the magistrate yet again this afternoon for an overgrown lawn violation. The truly sad thing is that we had been trying (successfully) to keep our lawn tamed this year, but between the pregnancy sickness and my husband's issue with his ear, neither of us had managed to get out there and do something about the lawn in September, and we've been getting regular rain much later than usual this year which has kept the weeds growing. Friday morning I finally felt well enough to try tackling the lawn, and Friday afternoon received the certified letter ordering us to appear before the magistrate on Tuesday. And because we're 'repeat offenders' they no longer have to give us a warning letter first.

Oh well. Hopefully next year we'll manage to keep them off our back.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Blogger problems?

I don't know if anyone else has been having this problem, but while if I hit the sign in button it will take me to my dashboard, on my blog itself it will not show that I am signed in or show me the quick editing buttons. I think it may be interfering with my ability to comment on other blogs that have blogger comments enabled, too. Phooey.


Update: Billiam, I think it might just be your blog I'm unable to comment on - I tested my ability to comment on someone else's blog that had blogger comments enabled, and it went through. The only difference is that they had word verification enabled. When I visit your blog and submit the comment it just appears to vanish into the aether.