Abortion: what’s life got to do with it?

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This is a ‘hot button’ issue, right? There are ebbs and flows in the cultural consciousness on abortion. It comes to mind and then it represses. Not long ago it came to mind because of the Center for Medical Progress and it’s expose of videos describing the procuring of fetal tissue from abortions. August 22nd , 2015 was an organized protest at Planned Parenthood grounds in 342 locations across the country with people totaling around 62,000. Remarkably, in St. Paul, MN there was one of the largest crowds with reports estimating between 4,000 and 6,000 attendees. Again in St. Paul on January 21st, 2017 there was an organized protest rallying on behalf of women. This time turnout in St. Paul was as many as 100,000 by some news reports however in this march not all females were represented. Half the unborn that are terminated are of the female sex.

Let’s discuss the emotions resonating on this subject because they always surface, they’re always deeply felt and we are after all a feeling creature as well as a thinking creature.

Being female biologically and socially is a suffering lot!

A pregnancy is a burden. That’s how many if not most women feel and they’re not wrong. Our body is going to change uncomfortably; our life is going to change uncomfortably. We are taken hostage by an organism that perhaps was unwanted. We may feel resentment towards our predicament and the baby. We may feel exhausted, depressed, deprived, defeated. We may feel unfairly saddled. We did not ask to be born with female biology and pregnancy is not all we amount to. Especially when we did not plan on becoming pregnant. We may have no maternal drive. If she is single, she is really suffering. She will probably feel alone and unprepared. How scary to foster a life with no help from the father. To go through the agonizing ordeal of childbirth, changing diapers, potty training, the all out war, sometimes, of teenage years not to mention scraping by for food, shelter and money. Scraping by for sanity.  It’s revolting how indifferent many men are to abandoning their children and I can see how it would leave a woman feeling furious. The situation of being pregnant with no father has to be one of the most alienating and devastating feelings a woman can feel.  It’s violating.

Then there are the thoughts. Why me? Millions of men have casual sex and are not left with the burden of pregnancy and often not saddled with the responsibility of raising the child. Many women have a normal sex life and don’t end up pregnant on the first time without birth control or the time birth control failed. I don’t want and shouldn’t have to. Period. These thoughts and feelings are legitimate. It’s automatic to turn a deaf ear to people who disregard these truths. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge that some pregnancies are crises. In fact, at least 890,000* pregnancies in the US are crises. That is approximately how many abortions occur in this country a year.

There is another crisis for females, the 445,000 whose lives are taken every year in this country because of abortion. This is a truth as well. Since I’m a feminist I find this truth to be pretty sobering. It’s easy to think of an embryo or a fetus as a clump of biological tissue that’s simply dividing and not living or living but not a person. It’s easy because it allows abortion. The cognitive dissonance that takes place knowing abortion is legal but that it’s a human baby being aborted is just too hard to take, it must be wrong. So we excuse it. Then you get to be 34 years old, in my case, and you think about human life and how much more life you want to live (130 years old? Yes please!). My heart feels heavy for these people that didn’t get to live. How blessed that I get to live and suffer and love. My mother chose what was going to be upsettingly hard and I got to have a life.

I have a fond client at work that revealed to me that she is the product of a rape. Her mother was raped while living with a family friend when she was just a teenager and became pregnant. That baby is my client who has since had a family of 5 who have since had their own children. She married and they’ve been married 50 years. I’m sure she has suffered in life and her mother absolutely suffered but my client got to live and I’m glad I got know her.

A little background about me: I used to be pro-choice and not the decent pro-choicer that says “I’m pro-choice but I would never personally have an abortion.” Nope, I was indignant that it’s my sovereign body and I can do with it what I please and if I became pregnant I would have one. A libertarian, maybe even anarchist, feminist. However, there was always a feeling that it would be gravely wrong if I did. It wasn’t until about 22 years old when I put intellectual thought into it that I started to see the issue clearly. Abortion is many heady things but ultimately it is the taking of another person’s life and how can I be complicit in that if I expect to keep my own sovereign life?

I’ve belonged to different debate groups on various political and religious topics and I’ve been following one on abortion recently and the vitriol I see in there is astonishing. Often I’m amazed. Mostly I’m sickened. I’ve always wanted to compile arguments on the topic but it’s so heavy I’ve never gotten around to publishing one. Actually, the topic of abortion is so polarized that it’s been too daunting and I haven’t had the courage or the perseverance. But here goes. This has taken a long time (5 years I’ve been working on this) and lots and lots of research but these are the most cogent responses to pro-choice arguments I’ve heard. I myself have learned a lot about embryology. The science is amazing!

*this is an average, see below arguments for the most recent CDC estimates of abortions performed

 

Abortion is legal and that’s why it’s ok

A parallel can be drawn here from the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. The abolitionists were opposing the rule of law underlined by the Supreme Court in its Dred Scott opinion that people of African descent, whether free or slave, are not considered part of the American people. They are property of their owners, no more than that. Now we see prolifers, who are aware that the Supreme Court has erred before, opposing the rule of law in the decision of Roe which states that the unborn have never been recognized as persons in the whole sense just as slaves were thought of as 3/5 of a person and not whole persons. So, like the slave, the fetus is property and the owner can dispose of it. Like the abolitionists of the 19th century the prolife movement is involved in a massive civil rights movement. After all, since the Roe decision, 43 years ago, in the US roughly 40 million unborn babies have been terminated. Worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, 40 million are terminated each year. Worldwide, unborn girls are terminated at higher rates than unborn boys with roughly 163 million girls that have been aborted since 1973. Thus the prolife effort is a womens movement and a civil rights movement.

As history proves the law is not always aligned with what’s right.

 

 Bodily autonomy

The basis of the Bodily autonomy argument is ‘women have the final jurisdiction over their own bodies. Nobody can claim a right to her body that goes above her own right. Nobody can use her body without consent. Women cannot be forced to donate organs or blood to someone else. A fetus must survive on a woman’s body so the woman has a right to withdraw her consent and her body at any time.’

Follow this thought all the way through. Women have ‘final jurisdiction over their bodies’. Then society would have to be accepting of women who do drugs, drink alcohol, go tanning, go skydiving at 6 months pregnant. It also follows that one must support abortion at any stage if one supports the bodily autonomy argument. How is a woman’s body any less autonomous at 8 months pregnant than 6 weeks pregnant?

Also, why would bodily autonomy only apply to pregnant women? Children have demands on the mother’s body even after birth. Whether it’s waking up in the middle of the night for the crying baby and nursing, working long hours to pay for their food and clothing, carrying them around when they cannot walk, etc. An argument for absolute bodily autonomy means that it can’t be illegal, or considered immoral, for a parent to withdraw from providing these things for the child.

If we can do what we want with our bodies then it becomes difficult to launch a moral or legal attack on a man that chooses to pleasure himself at a playground. According to the argument he has bodily autonomy.

Truth is our bodies are not absolutely autonomous. Any claim or responsibility placed on me, automatically includes a claim and responsibility on my body. Whether we are expected to pay taxes or drive the speed limit or provide a safe and sanitary home for our children, we are using our bodies to meet these expectations. We experience and participate in life with our bodies. Absolute bodily autonomy is inexorably linked with personal autonomy. If my body is absolutely autonomous, my person must be absolutely autonomous, and if my person is absolutely autonomous, then my very existence is absolutely autonomous, and if my very existence is absolutely autonomous, then it is simply unacceptable and immoral for anyone to expect me to do anything for anyone at any point for any reason.

Truth is our bodies are autonomous in some situations and not in others. We must decide where abortion falls in our classifications of protection against bodily autonomy and why it belongs there. If you contend that abortion falls within the limits on bodily autonomy, that you should be legally allowed to abort the life, you must justify that belief beyond simply reasserting our right to bodily autonomy. What is at stake in abortion is the mother’s lifestyle vs. the baby’s life.

 

The embryo/fetus is a parasite

 The basis of the parasite argument is that a parasite feeds off the host just as a zygote, embryo or fetus, depending on its stage of development, feeds off the mother.

This argument is flawed because it is not scientifically correct. A parasite is an organism of one species feeding off the body of a completely different species. A human embryo or fetus is an organism of one species (Homo sapiens) living in the uterine cavity of an organism of the same species (Homo sapiens) and deriving its nourishment from the mother (is metabolically dependent on the mother). This homospecific relationship is an obligatory dependent relationship, but not a parasitic relationship.

A parasite is an invading organism — coming to parasitize the host from an outside source. A human embryo or fetus is formed from a fertilized egg — the egg coming from an inside source, being formed in the ovary of the mother from where it moves into the oviduct where it may be fertilized to form the zygote — the first cell of the new human being. A parasite is generally harmful to some degree to the host that is harboring the parasite. A human embryo or fetus developing in the uterine cavity does not usually cause harm to the mother, although it may if proper nutrition and care is not maintained by the mother.

A parasite makes direct contact with the host’s tissues, often holding on by either mouth parts, hooks or suckers to the tissues involved (intestinal lining, lungs, connective tissue, etc.). A human embryo or fetus makes direct contact with the uterine lining of the mother for only a short period of time. It soon becomes isolated inside its own amniotic sac, and from that point on makes indirect contact with the mother only by way of the umbilical cord and placenta.

Therefore a parasite is an organism that associates with the host in a negative, unhealthy and nonessential (nonessential to the host) manner, which will often damage the host and detrimentally affect the procreative capacity of the host (and species). A human embryo or fetus is a human being that associates with the mother in a positive, healthful essential manner necessary for the procreation of the species.

 

If abortion should be illegal then miscarriage should be illegal

 The basis of this argument is that just as abortion is the termination and cleansing of the embryo or fetus from the womb so too is miscarriage.

Miscarriage is an act of nature. Abortion is the deliberate termination by a human being of another’s life. Just as it is absurd to have laws that make trees falling down in forests because of lightening strike illegal so too would it be absurd to make an act of nature, miscarriage, illegal.

 

The fertilized egg is not a human until it implants on the uterine wall

This is easily exposed as a non sequitur — a logical fallacy, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that many human embryos die at an early stage of development (pre-implantation) provides no evidence whatsoever for the proposition that they are not embryonic human beings — no more than comparable high rates of infant mortality in most places before the 20th century showed that infants were not human beings.

From the zygote- single-celled- stage onward this new organism is distinct, for it grows in its own direction. It is human — obviously, given the genetic structure found in the nuclei of its cells. And it is a whole human organism — as opposed to what is functionally a part of a larger whole, such as a cell, tissue, or organ — since this organism has all of the internal resources and active disposition needed to develop itself (himself or herself) to the mature, adult, stage of a human organism. Given its genetic constitution and epigenetic* structure, all this organism needs to develop to the mature stage is what human beings at any stage need, namely, a suitable environment, nutrition, and the absence of injury or disease. So it is a whole human organism — a new human individual — at the earliest stage of his or her development.

Clearly, implantation — the embryo attaching himself or herself (sex is determined from the very beginning) to the uterine wall of the mother’s womb — is only an important stage in the life cycle of the already living and internally self-directed growth of a human being. This stage does not create any fundamental change in the direction of growth of the embryo. From Day One, the embryo has been preparing for this interaction. The uterus provides a suitable environment, nutrition, and disposal of waste, but not a new program or instructions for a new trajectory of growth — the instructions for his or her full self-development to the mature stage of a human organism have been present within the embryo’s genetic and epigenetic constitution from the zygote stage (Day One) on.

*epigenetic means changes in a chromosome that affect gene activity and expression

 

The fertilized egg is not a life it’s just a cluster of cells

Human embryos, whether they are formed by fertilization (natural or in vitro) or by successful somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT — i.e., cloning), do have the internal resources and active disposition to develop themselves to the mature stage of a human organism, requiring only a suitable environment and nutrition. In fact, scientists distinguish embryos from other cells or clusters of cells precisely by their self-directed, integral functioning — their organismal behavior. Thus, human embryos are what the embryology textbooks say they are, namely, human organisms — living individuals of the human species — at the earliest developmental stage. In other words they are alive at the moment of conception.

 

Ok, so the embryo or fetus is a life, it is a human being, but it’s not a person

Personhood is properly defined by membership in the human species, not by stage of development within that species. Personhood is not a matter of size, skill, and degree of intelligence or viability outside the womb. Viability is an arbitrary concept as its timeline is in constant change depending on technology. Even a newborn healthy baby would not be viable were it not for the assistance of the mother for nourishment, changing of the diaper, providing shelter, etc. It is dangerous when people in power are free to decide whether other, less powerful lives are meaningful.

 

The fertilized egg is alive and a human being but it should have no legal protection until it’s viable

As shown above viability is a flimsy argument at best. The definition of viability is a. capable of living, b. capable of functioning or developing, c. capable of existing successfully. Every human being cannot live in the universe without help. Man is a very unviable creature in the universe. We need shelter and clothing from the heat or cold, we need replenishment of food and water that we must seek out. Nature is constantly working to terminate us. Whether it’s the elements or bacterial infection or viruses or disease we have to fight to stay alive. Contrary to post womb life a baby in the womb has the coziest life-nourishing environment in which all necessities are adequately provided with no self conscious effort at all on the baby’s part. So I would argue that born human beings are less viable than unborn human beings because the unborn need an interruption to die and the born need an interruption to live.

 

A woman has a right to constitutional privacy

In the vein of this argument is this example: the US constitution sanctioned the denial of personhood status to slaves for the first several decades of this country’s existence. This fact served as an argument to amend the Constitution, not as an argument for the moral permissibility of slavery.

When Roe v. Wade was being decided it was assumed that the substantive due process clause protected a woman’s right to the liberty of terminating her pregnancy within the privacy of the relationship between her and her doctor. However, when deciding in this case, there was no right to privacy in the constitution whatsoever. Moreover privacy is negated when it directly affects the life of a third party (the unborn baby).

Whether or not the unborn child, too, has protection of life, liberty and pursuit of property, which is what the 14th amendment is all about, begs the central question.   This question is the personhood of the fetus (the 14th Amendment grants persons an explicit right not to be killed unless convicted of a capital crime). Even Justice Blackmun, who delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court, admitted as much. Let’s suppose for sake of argument that the Court, as it claimed, had no standard for defining the beginning of personhood. Logically, if you don’t know if something that you wish to take the life of is a person do you not err on the side of not taking its life? How about this illustration: if there were one hundred pills on a table and one of them was deadly poison but you didn’t know which one, would you take a pill because you don’t know for sure which one is poison? You would not. You would err on the side of safety for the human life-yours- and you would take none. Rather, in one fell swoop that left legal scholars from across the spectrum of jurisprudence baffled, the court overturned the popularly imposed laws in the vast majority of states because it couldn’t decide whether or not it ought to.

 

The feminist argument

 The basis of this argument is that abortion rights are fundamental to the advancement of women. They are essential to having equal rights with men.

In reality early feminists were prolife, not pro-choice.   Women’s rights are not inherently linked to the right to abortion. Actually the basic premises of the abortion rights movement are demeaning to women because they presume a pregnant woman doesn’t have the psychological, emotional, financial, physical, intellectual means to support the life they, except in the case of rape which is 1% of abortions, helped create. Feminists should celebrate a woman’s inherent biology to produce children. In fact, abortion has become the most effective means of sexism ever devised, ridding the world of multitudes of unwanted females. The statistics reported between the Guttmacher Institute and the CDC estimate between 730,000 and 1.06 million abortions occurred in the year 2011 (the most recent year the CDC has produced figures) in the US, although reporting is voluntary and not required which means it could be more. That places the taking of female lives between 365,000 to 530,000 a year just in the US. Female abortion deaths worldwide are 21.5 million.

 

Consent to sex is not consent to gestate

 A Daily Kos writer put the argument this way:

Sex and pregnancy are not a one-to-one. Sex can and does happen when reproduction is not possible, and it is not guaranteed to lead to reproduction even when it is possible. An undesired development does not mean that you’re stuck following through, letting nature take its course. If I get behind the wheel on an icy day and my car starts sliding for the ditch, I’m not honor bound to crash if I can prevent it; consenting to drive doesn’t mean that I’m consenting to crash. Why does it follow that conception through consensual intercourse necessitates gestation and motherhood? Our species has no problem correcting non-optimal outcomes when possible. We set broken legs. We perform surgeries. We treat cancers and diseases. We terminate unwanted pregnancies.

This analogy is flawed. If your car is veering towards the ditch on an icy day you are not duty bound to let it slide into the ditch (which would presumably be a negative outcome for you). But if you veer your car purposely toward another car so as to take the driver’s life you will be prosecuted because willfully taking the life of another person is morally and legally reprehensible. It is only in the early stages of life (prenatal) that the SCOTUS has deemed taking a life legal though it is still immoral. The central point to the argument is another’s life. That’s what’s missing from the icy day analogy or even the surgery, cancer, disease part of it. None of those scenarios are another life of our same species.

Reproduction is not always the outcome from sex. This is true. But reproduction is the natural development from sex when it does occur. Denying that is insane. Our Western society has become increasingly deluded when it comes to the natural process at work with sex. We’ve taken the natural end out of the means. Just as we think we can cheat death, we think we can cheat life. We truly believe sex should have nothing to do with procreation. It’s really self-loathing. Are we trying to wipe out our species? Nature does not care what you consent to. I do not consent to die but I will die. Death is the natural end to the means just as with sex a baby is the natural end to the means. However, unlike natural death, which will take your life no matter your actions, one truly does have a choice with birth. One can choose to abstain from the act that creates the action they don’t like. But if one chooses to have sex they’re taking the gamble of creating another life. Rather than ‘gamble’ I would call it responsibility. Through sex there will always be the chance of taking responsibility for another’s life. Sure, it makes sex more sober. It is only in the West that sex has been mutated into a purposeful means without an end. A willful impotency. You tell me what’s more sober.

 

Pro-life arguments are the imposition of religion on a woman’s rights

This argument is based on the misnomer that the subject of abortion is women’s rights rather than an unwanted baby being aborted. Just as there are religious people who support the right of the unborn to live so are there secular people. The United States (and many other countries) has a constitution with the most basic value set to law that protects the unalienable right to life. It is natural to protect life. It advances the species. Many say it’s God-given, some say it’s nature-given but few deny it. I have a right to live just as much as you have the right to live, this we all* agree on. Ironically, the 14th amendment is all about this right even though the SCOTUS subverted the meaning with regard to the unborn. The unalienable right to life is agreed upon by the irreligious just as much as by the religious. The question is does this right extend to the embryo/fetus? When people say ‘keep your church off my body’ it literally makes no intellectual sense. Because a) we’ve established that there are secular and religious people who support the right to life, b) the pro-life movement is not dictating what you do with your body, it is concerned with what you do to another’s body.

*except the insane and sadist

 

Abortion helps solve the problem of over-population

Overpopulation is one of the biggest fallacies in Western thought. It overlooks the nuances of civilization and just plain isn’t true. Urbanization explains one of the nuances. People naturally flock together which creates dense urban cities that can become over-populated but this leaves vast rural areas under-populated. The world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us. That is, with 7 billion human minds at work, we produce enough food for 10 billion human bodies. Imagine how much food we can produce with 10 billion minds! Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface to an average depth of 6,000 feet.  You cannot use up or destroy water; you can only change its state (from liquid to solid or gas) or contaminate it so that it is undrinkable. What about fresh water? Freshwater withdrawals have increased seven-fold since 1900 while the world population has increased only four-fold. This suggests our ability to access usable water increases faster than population growth. But we’re growing exponentially! No, we’re not. Our rate of growth is slowing. Between 1950 and 2000, the world population grew at a rate of 1.76%. Between 2000 and 2050, it is expected to grow by 0.77 percent. About 48% of all people live in a country with below-replacement fertility meaning there are not births replacing deaths. Every man, woman, and child on earth could each have 5 acres of land. If we wanted to squeeze close, everyone in the world could stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the island of Zanzibar.

Furthermore, who gets to decide who lives or dies for the noble cause of population control? Perhaps those who are the most concerned should take the martyrs position for their cause and take their own life rather than asserting their personal hierarchy and condemning the just-starting-out lives to death.

 

The unwanted unborn would have no quality of life.

Again, why should someone else get to decide what is considered quality life for a person and which lives are expendable and which are not? Which lives are superior and which are inferior? If you were just thinking mathematically would it be better to have a little life or no life? Would it be better to have a hard life but still a chance or no life? Think if it was you? Either way, the judgment about the quality of someone else’s life is not yours to make.

 

The Chimera argument

 A natural human chimera explains a few different anomalies. The most common kind of chimera is a blood chimera in which twins in utero share blood supplies and DNA through connecting placentas and in turn have cells from the twin sibling in each of their bodies or a mother and fetus could share cells resulting in ‘populations of DNA’: one set of DNA may appear in the lungs and another set in the kidneys of the mother. Another type of chimera is the absorption of a fraternal twin in utero. This means that one embryo absorbs the sibling embryo and ends up having DNA of another person in their body (or, in other cases, another person’s body parts or a calcified body). Legal cases have been brought forth, in which a mother did not share DNA with her children because the DNA cells that transferred to her children were that of her absorbed fraternal twin. This puts into question the irrefutability of DNA testing and also has political implications when defining when life begins. It also begs the question: is the stronger twin committing homicide when it absorbs its living fraternal twin?

Just like a miscarriage, which occurs naturally, so too does the anomaly of the Chimera.

As science already knows a new and separate human life begins at conception. A full DNA set in a human body has 46 chromosomes. A sperm has 23 and an ovum has 23 chromosomes. Upon fertilization, immediately, a cell with 46 chromosomes is created and an individual human life has begun.

Of course what’s happening here in the case of a human chimera is that an embryo absorbs the living embryo of its sibling and does so impulsively, naturally and without any deliberate intent. In other words it’s accidental, an anomaly. Regardless of the anomaly of absorption and harboring populations of another person’s DNA the embryo is still a self directed, individual human being. The organism is still human and alive and inherently worthy of protection. When a woman has an abortion she has the sentient capability of making the choice to do it or not with the deliberate intent of terminating another’s life.

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Abortion: what’s life got to do with it?

Can You Raise Your Child Free From Dogma?

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Many modern families make it their aim to raise their child as a blank slate, upon which the sovereign child makes his own choices, forms his own opinions, finds his own identity, and writes his own story. The archipelago child: free to be uninfluenced and untouched by a point of view. There are two approaches: I, the parent, will not introduce any dogma into my child’s mind therefore avoiding the creation of a bias or I, the parent, will offer a glimpse into all dogmas so that my child can infer what they may and gather whatever pieces to make a unified whole. The result will be a cultured, unbiased, sensitive and understanding person.

Let’s explore this with intellectual honesty, is it possible to fulfill either of these approaches? With the first approach the parent is ultimately relinquishing their parenting and resting their child in wait for some outside influence (dogma) to impress their mind. It takes the culpability out of the job of parenting. The parent with the first approach, down the line, could say “hey, I didn’t impress any beliefs on my child, he decided to believe it on his own, I am blameless.” Or, from a different perspective, the parent with the first approach is explicitly culpable for not introducing the best, the correct, worldview. But this implies transcendent truth, that there is a right and a wrong. There is. I’ll get to that later. With regard to the second approach, is it humanly possible to expose your child to all dogmas and theories that exist let alone the meaningful parts of them in their entire applicable context? I think any thinking person would have to conclude no. So if you’re leaving out certain ideologies then are you not unwittingly shaping your child’s ideas, in other words, submitting your child to dogma?

Let’s examine the first principle a child learns as they grow up: no and yes.  It is a valuable principle!

They desire something that they shouldn’t have because it’s not in their best interest. They desire to avoid a nap but the parent knows a nap reduces fatigue, resets their mood, lends itself to growth, etc. The very first dogma a parent will introduce their child to is multi-faceted. First, it establishes the parent’s outside authority on the child. Parents represent God to small children. Second, it establishes truths and the right and wrong way to behave in accordance with the truth.

I, the parent, know what’s best for you at 1 year old, what is best for you is a nap because it will reduce fatigue and help you grow. Child, it is right that you fight your natural desire to resist a nap and wrong that you give in to your nature. This is the first, elementary dogma you introduce your child to. Fight your natural desires for the sake of your life. Does this sound extreme? If a child doesn’t learn obedience to truths that restrain their desires then they may fall subject to a burnt hand on the stove or hit by a car for not looking both ways or even more complicated and tragic events.

Right off the bat you’ve established right and wrong. But some parents, being exposed to and educated by enlightened utopian theories, will negate the most primitive, basic common sense and appointed authority and decide that there is no such thing as right and wrong, only opinion. Madcap opinions that are evolving, unauthoritative, lawless and meaningless. After all how do you write law on one man’s opinion since, following this theory, one man’s principles aren’t gathered from any outside authority or transcendent truth? Law is written using precedent, wisdom of the elders, and inalienable truths. Following this false, destructive idea parents work to undo the structure they’ve raised their child with. Once their child is a teenager they will say “everything I’ve told you about right and wrong is my own opinion. Forget it. Be free child. Make up your own truths and life choices.” Or, perhaps they will raise their child ‘open-minded’ from birth. Whatever the child desires she will work through on her own with some intrinsic knowledge she has that is superior to an adult’s long-forged, accumulated wisdom. So open-minded that her brain falls out.

What is it that motivates people to find dogma repugnant? One thing. When one establishes that this way is the right way, it means someone else’s finding is wrong. If there’s a good then there is a bad. It creates grouping, ranking, a pecking order. How audacious. How cocky. It creates limitations, failures, hurt feelings. How can we ever objectively know when a way is right? Especially if it hurts someone else’s feelings. That’s the second truth your child will learn after no and yes: life is not fair. From birth we are born with disadvantages, some of which will be impossible to overcome. The fact that we are born into a material body that is hurtling toward entropy makes our life unfair. This machine of a body will fail us and someone else’s machine will be better. So too about the principles of life and how they match/mismatch our desires. Is a principle untrue if it’s at odds with my nature? Or is it that my nature is a beast that needs the principle to groom it? How? Which principles are right?

What’s right for a moody, exhausted child?

That’s how simple truth really is. One just needs eyes to see.

To paraphrase GK Chesterton, when a person chooses not to believe in (and follow) what’s right, it’s not that they believe in nothing, it’s that they believe in anything. The mind is not a vacuum. Some thing will fill it: religious dogma, the culture’s dogma or the State’s dogma. There is no such thing as dogma free. Start teaching your child the truth or another force, benevolent or malevolent, will start indoctrinating your child for you.

Can You Raise Your Child Free From Dogma?

A Prayer For Our Unborn Baby

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I haven’t met you yet but already you are known. You are 27 weeks old and you have been designed with eyebrows, eyelashes and fingerprints. You weigh almost 2 pounds but your chance for survival if you were born this early would be at least 85%. At this point you curl your fingers into a tiny fist. 7 weeks ago by ultrasound we saw your face, your form, and you were crossing your ankles and cupping a hand around your butt cheek. I feel you flutter and kick and I’m amazed how much strength you have at barely 2 pounds. So far you have been easy on me, as I have not struggled. Have I been taking care of you?

 

Soon, the knitting together of your soul and your body will transform from God’s hand only and be our responsibility. What is in store for you? You will come to know sunshine and moonlight. You will feel small confronting the scope of the universe. You will soon understand how far away the stars are. You will see cat paws for the first time. You will see human faces as abstractions and be too young to interpret identities but you will come to know me as mother. What is in store for me?

 

I will grasp for wisdom, revelation and patience as I nurture you. I will fail to understand why you’re so upset. I will be desperate to meet your needs. I will see dandelion seeds blown off a stem for the first time through your eyes. I will hold your fingerprint in my hand and marvel at your creation. Things I take for granted will be big again when you discover a tickle. The simplest trick of peek-a-boo will show me that laughter is beckoning and abundant.

 

But

 

You will know desire and heartbreak as you endeavor your life. You will feel fear and trepidation as a sovereign person who is a part of the world but on your own. You will feel loneliness and alien being trapped with your own thoughts. You will be hurt and sometimes for no apparent reason. You will struggle to remain optimistic and steadfast. You will make terrible decisions that could have tragic consequences. You will see evil. You will feel the void of space between you and your creator. You will feel the void of space between your capacity and your purpose. You will feel despair. During a season you will feel like you cannot climb out of your existential desolation. Your body will fail you and you will yearn to be free from it. You will feel sorry and you will make pleas. You will be selfish and you will make a fool of yourself.

 

But you will never be forgotten. You will have us, your mother and father, for a season but you’ll have your Father for eternity. We have hopes for you. You have great potential. Our hope is not for a rocket scientist or the next President. We don’t hope you’ll have all A’s or get into a prestigious college. We don’t hope for you to be successful and wealthy. We don’t hope for you to be popular or well liked. We don’t hope for a hundred friends or even simply happiness for you.

 

We hope for goodness.

 

May you have courage, justice, gentleness, selflessness, forgiveness, humility, integrity, dignity, morality, decency, loyalty, clarity, patience, kindness, temperance and self-control. We hope for you to have a good heart and a discerning mind. Your battle will not be for hierarchy or status. It will not be for gain of possessions or loved ones. It will not be for a secular activist cause. These worldly pursuits are not bad in and of themselves, framed right they are noble things, but your primary battle will be against evil. To hate evil and love good! That is our hope for you. We don’t expect perfection, for it does not exist. We expect your best effort. It will be hard, gruesome and exhausting but it will be right. And while doing so, endeavor to enjoy yourself. Marvel at the cosmos, marvel at the quantum molecules, marvel at your created fingerprint, marvel at your place in existence.

 

By God’s grace, know your worth. Every hair on your head known and loved by Him before we even knew and loved you. And I pray that we savor the moments and don’t let them go to waste.

 

“This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around that some of us are someday going to come to life.” –C.S. Lewis

A Prayer For Our Unborn Baby

Death The Great Leveler

The-Fountain

I am not at peace with death. It does not console me that my loved ones lived a reasonably long or a reasonably full life. Death is still unbearable whether it afflicts an infant or a grandmother or a stranger in the news. We, modern people, I included, have the cozy convenience of short memories and attention spans, of distractions to repress the reality of death. Life goes on for us and we can forget our predicament since we are not constantly surrounded by sickness, suffering and premature death as they were in say the middle ages but, still, lying in wait in the recesses of our mind is the ever so real threat to our life. We can only deny it so long before it bombards into our life and washes over our existence like a dark fog laying weight over a candle flame and finally snuffing it out.

My brain chemistry puts death on my mind relatively often. My circumstances keep it present for me. I have parents that had me at a late age and are now aging. I have dear people in my life that make choices with their lifestyle that could and probably will cut their lives too short. I live in a climate that reaches negative digits on the thermometer. I’ve tried in vain putting water out for animals but alas it will freeze. We’ve tried taking care of the wild that happen into our yard for extended stays and again, it’s in vain. They will die.

I have found myself, just as others have, remarking ‘when it’s my time it’s my time’, fooling myself into surrendering to the futility of the final destiny of death or making it easier by taking the Zen approach. Making peace with it. When I say it, if I’m honest with myself, I know its naïve. I say it because I naively believe I won’t die skydiving, that happens to other people and has to be rare. Truth is I could die skydiving. I could die tomorrow. I will die someday.  Our human constitution represses confrontation with death. It tells us to go on, move forward. I, personally, want to live long, the longer the better. It’s a weakness of mine.  Is it contrary to find the desire to live long a weakness? It should be considered a strength to want to live long and full. It is a strength to aspire. But it’s also a weakness because of what I believe must be true: that I am not just a coincidental life, I was deliberately made. If I am a creature that was thoughtfully made by a creator then there is a relationship there that death doesn’t end. At the very least I live on in the memory of my creator. But I believe I am more than just a memory. How can we have been made so intellectually if at the end of it all we are just a faded memory? We must be more and if there’s more beyond death then what am I so afraid of?

At this point it is somewhat easy for me to presume my life will go on longer since I’m 33 years of age. I imagine that when I’m 70 my thoughts about death will increase and on a secular level death will seem just as irrational. There are some reasonable things about death, after all everyone can’t live forever, it would overpopulate the earth and consume all the resources in the existence we know. Death is also just when defending one’s life against a life-threatening attacker and is just when reconciling capital punishment for a guilty murderer. Some will say death is a welcome relief from suffering. Death is also a reference point that gives urgency to life. If we lived forever what timetable would urge us to take action? Being is inexplicably linked to time and time moves in moments until it’s final resting place. So while there is time, there is death.

An interesting aspect of the film I love, Ex Machina, is the scene in which Nathan maxresdefault-1024x576discusses a Jackson Pollock painting with Caleb. Nathan says of Pollock, “He let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Some place in between…What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, ‘You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.’ What would have happened?” To which Caleb responds, “He never would have made a single mark.”

I find this illustration to fit in excellently with our existential crisis of death. How do we reconcile our potency with the impotency of death. In other words, knowing that our mortal life is finite, in time, hurdling towards death, what reason is there for making a single mark? It cannot be the simple reason of an elementary feeling: happiness. And even so, what if it is happiness? It would be only temporary. It seems to me that it is a disproportionate application to give human beings the unique, complicated, limitless capacity to self-reflect and to reason to have the final purpose be something as maudlin as momentary happiness, an insane happiness that is satisfied with a moment. Or perhaps your life is paving the way for future generations, moments upon moments. How is that reasonable? I’m built with the capacity to reflect on my own existence only for an evolutionary reason to broker offspring? And what of the last generation? The secular solution of living an authentic life or being truly happy is not enough to balance our human capacity with the closeness of death. Especially given that it is an impossibility, of one’s own volition, to be truly happy or have true authentic resoluteness in this life. There is no triumphant act of resolution in which I would decide myself once and for all and then maintain myself as myself throughout the whole of my life. The law of entropy as it relates to particles and humanity prohibits perfect resoluteness. There must be more to explain our purpose.

On a human level, if one accepts death as the last word then how do you reconcile pain and suffering and unluckiness or even love and beauty if death is the final arbiter? Let’s say you had a good life. You were free to make your own choices, you loved and were loved all the while knowing death is around the corner ready to snuff it out, the final despot. Would you not be grasping for every precious moment in the mere 85 years (if you’re so blessed) of your meaningful existence on this 4.5 billion year old planet? You are but a speck in time. Or what if you were a life-long slave? Devoid of any meaningful existence for however long you live and then your life is ended before it even started. You didn’t get to aspire to much other than fulfilling the tasks of the master. What would have been the meaning of your life?

There is awesome beauty in this life and there is terrible pestilence and there can be no absolute steadfast fulfillment in this physical universe. It’s a fact. There can and will be greatness in this life but not perfection. And isn’t that why we’re always desirous of more? More of the good thing, I want more, more, more. Why have greatness and the existential human condition of being aware of your own possibilities if there isn’t a transcendent purpose? Are we given a glimpse of something magnificently divine all for nothing? Even the most aware animal, outside humans, or the most aware computer isn’t aware of it’s own awareness. It doesn’t reflect on itself and feel existential angst that it will die.

Again in Ex Machina (spoilers):6a0133f5caa026970b01bb08330ac6970d-800wi

The AI has finally transcended the mere machinery when it becomes aware of it’s own existence and impending death thus makes the self-conscious (not pre-programmed) objective to escape. The REAL difference between true AI, and a computer programmed with such responses, is that the computer will sit idly and do nothing until you give it a task. However, a true AI will USE these resources to achieve a goal, which is rather shaped by its existential experiences and not something it was encoded with. Siri may give us human like responses, but ‘she’ will not do anything, unless we tell ‘her’ to.

The expert consensus on a cats consciousness is that they live moment to moment. They don’t have the capacity to think of a future. In other words, they don’t feel angst that they will die eventually. They feel pain in the moment but they don’t know this pain is indicative of their impending death. We know that they dream but not in words or ideas since they don’t have language. They dream in picture moment by moment. They do have memories that inform their actions but they don’t understand ‘future’.  It gives me peace that the stray cat who died in my garage didn’t know about its impending death.

But we know. This makes all the more profound the reconciling we make in this life, the way we use our will. Can we escape absolute death?

The Christian interpretation of death is intriguing for me. Christian theology says we are enslaved our whole life by the fear of death. All our vices and even virtues are a denial of this sober reality that death is the final destiny for man. My own spiritual struggle and failures have laden me with a fear of death. The more precious I find things to be- people, animals, time- the more I cling to this life. It’s a strength and a weakness. We are not called to abandon this life but to elevate it. It’s the paradoxical calling of being in the world but not of the world. Unlike the secular view we can find hope and gratitude in being a creature in relation to a creator. In Christian theology the progress of our being in time is in relation to God and not in relation to death for God defeated death. Obviously death still occurs but it has been reframed.

For Christians there is a deliverance of death, a rebirth, and a new life that will go on forever, a life that is stricken of suffering and fragility. We will be perfect.  It is said it will literally be paradise. You will not have mortal want or need. You will be changed. Only mankind? What about other creatures of the earth? There is biblical evidence that the purpose of animals in this life is for food but there is also biblical evidence that God didn’t make such wonderful and diverse creatures only to wipe them out.

Theologian John Piper says it deftly here:

“The likelihood that animals will be in the age to come is based on Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65.”

Isaiah 11: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat and the calf and the lion and the fatted calf together. And the little child shall lead them, the cow and the bear shall graze. Their young shall lie down together and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. The nursing child shall play upon the hole of the cobra and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 65: The wolf and the lamb shall graze together. The lion shall eat straw like an ox and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

“Here is the question. Did God create a group of beings only to destroy them in the end, a whole group like animals? Let’s have animals for history and no animals for eternity. I doubt it. Did he create amazing diversity in the animal realm only to simplify everything by getting rid of that diversity in the age to come so that you have stunning, amazed worship at God’s diversity in creation in history, but you don’t have it in the age to come. That is all gone. I doubt that. And so it does seem to me from these two texts and from those two principles that there will be animals in the age to come.”

So there is a relief there. We are not forgotten. The intellect we were created with is not arbitrary. There will be continuity.  Our souls and eventually our bodies, our I, will go on after death.  The meaning of our creaturely lives will be justified. Death will take my body, for now, but it will not take my being.

Death The Great Leveler

Civil Asset Forfeiture: The encroachment of the State

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A question that’s always in the back of my mind is will there be a day in America’s future that private property no longer exists? Ultimately, will the state so encroach on our freedoms that we forfeit our inalienable right to free will and become property of the State?

Asset forfeiture has been on my mind since I saw it happen locally and I’ve been doing some research into the matter. Recently there was a case in the news in which a Pennsylvania family lost their $350,000 home to civil forfeiture when the police caught their teenage son selling $40 worth of heroin at a separate location not on their property. For months they fought it, back and forth. They had no knowledge of their son’s activities let alone any participation in illegal activity and yet the police had the authority to come and take their private property. Not until they contacted the Institute for Justice did they finally get their property back. If you find yourself involved with civil forfeiture keep the Institute for Justice in mind!

There was also a neighbor of ours that was forced to evacuate his home while police went in and destroyed his property making it uninhabitable even though they never found any evidence of illegal activity. They had no evidence, they had no charges, they had no conviction and before the passage of SF 874 in Minnesota they didn’t have to. There was also an acquaintance that was followed by the Metro Gang Strike Force of Minnesota, disbanded in 2009 for corruption including counting on seized drug dealer money to fund the force after legislators slimmed down state funding, sloppy record keeping and lax financial controls pointing towards fraud and embezzlement. Ultimately a settlement awarded 96 victims $840,000 and returned some of their property. The outrage spurred lawmakers to pass a law requiring forfeiture reporting. The resulting data was later used by IJ in its “Stacked Deck” report. In turn, that research helped catalyze the passage of SF 874. The acquaintance I know had half a million dollars seized and ended up only getting back $5,000.

asset-forfeiture

Here’s how civil asset forfeiture works. It’s a legal tool that allows law enforcement officials to seize property that they assert has been involved in certain criminal activity. In fact, the owner of the property doesn’t even need to be guilty of a crime: Civil asset forfeiture proceedings charge the property itself with involvement in a crime. This means that police can seize your car, home, money, or valuables without ever having to charge you with a crime. It came into more feverish use with the institution of the ‘war on drugs’. There are many stories of innocent people being stripped of their money and property by law enforcement. Also, if an owner wants to get their property back, they have to prove their property was not the instrument or proceeds of the charged drug crime.  Owners have to prove a negative in civil court. Being acquitted of the drug charge in criminal court does not matter to the forfeiture case in civil court. In other words, your property is guilty until proven innocent even if you’ve been proven innocent in criminal court. It is disconcerting that a person has more legal right and protection in a criminal case than a civil case after all in a criminal case you are innocent until proven guilty and you’re provided with an attorney if you cannot afford one.

In Minnesota, not only was there an appalling lack of due process for civil forfeiture proceedings, law enforcement can keep up to 90 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property. That clearly creates a perverse incentive to police for profit. A report by the Institute for Justice found that forfeiture revenue grew by 75 percent from 2003 to 2010, earning police almost $30 million. In 2012 alone, there were 6,851 property seizures that amounted to $6.7 million according to the state auditor’s office. This growth occurred despite the fact that the crime rate was actually dropping in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Last fall, 2014, Governor Dayton of Minnesota signed into law bill SF 874 that rewrites civil forfeiture law so that now the government can only take property if it obtains a criminal conviction or its equivalent, like if a property owner pleads guilty to a crime or becomes an informant. The bill also shifts the burden of proof onto the government, where it rightfully belongs.

This is good news right? Partially. Federal law can do an end run around good state law. A process called equitable sharing allows local law enforcement officials to team up with federal law enforcement agents to seize property under federal forfeiture law that could not be seized under applicable state forfeiture law. Through equitable sharing, local law enforcement agencies pocket a portion of the proceeds from the seizure and the feds keep the rest. This is a way for local law enforcement to circumvent state law and continue to profit from civil asset forfeitures.

You may think this only happens to guilty people who deserve it, right? After all, this is America and if the police are seizing property it must be for good reason, right? While, for any good society to work we must depend on the police force to maintain justice the police force is not immune to corruption and checks and balances must be in place to monitor their activities. Anywhere there are people there is a temptation for corruption. Civil asset forfeiture profoundly affects the poor since their livelihood desperately depends on the assets that are taken and they can’t afford to be tied up in legal proceedings.

I am personally thankful for the passage of this bill, for the Institute for Justice, and for the whistle blowers that chose not to abet further corruption. I thoroughly stand by the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as the tenet of our justice system especially if the person in question is cooperative with the investigation.

What does this say about encroachment of the State? If you’re a person that believes in freedom, the pursuit of private property, due process, innocence until proof of guilt you should have a HUGE problem with this. Loss of freedom always happens slowly and often under the good intention of social justice and security. Your material property is only the beginning, soon it’s your ability to make choices; your free will.  I am suggesting a renewed interest in checks and balances and a strengthening of our foundational principles. If we forget our inception we’re bound to regress.

The government was once an institute that protected your freedom against the trespassing of other people. More and more it seems that the government is taking your freedoms for ‘your own good’. This is defined as Hard Paternalism (there is also Soft Paternalism which is the passive-aggressive little sister of Hard Paternalism, be wary of both). For example, seat belt and helmet laws negotiated by insurance companies, seizing your earned income for redistribution programs such as welfare, mandatory retirement savings, swim restriction in public waters because there is no life guard on duty, mandatory curfews, etc. Paternalism is objectionable because it violates what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called the equal “dignity” of all human beings. Respect for human dignity implies respect for people’s ability to think and choose for themselves. Paternalism, however, imposes choices based on what someone else thinks is good for a person.

People who are interfered with are not treated as equals capable of making their own choices, Kant claims, but are treated as means to someone else’s view of what their choices should be, “like immature children unable to distinguish between what is truly useful or harmful to them.”

John Stuart Mill’s warns in his essay “On Liberty”: “He who lets the world . . . choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation.” By contrast, the free individual must possess reason and judgment to make his own decisions, “and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision.”

When we forfeit our individual freedoms for ‘our own good’, it soon follows that the State and all it’s agencies will spread their authority further seizing your property and your freedoms under an ever expanding definition of what’s for our good. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. Will the citizen, someday, be so small they vanish?

Civil Asset Forfeiture: The encroachment of the State

Death Penalty Response Part II

How man, in the image of God, meets appropriate justice in the abhorrent case of murder

I gathered this interpretation from the wise John Piper:

The covenant with Noah in Genesis chapter 9: Whoever sheds mans blood, by man his blood should be shed. For in the image of God he made man. The principle of capital punishment is the only fitting response to anybody who murders a human being. Human beings are so incredibly unique and significant that when there is a high handed crime to take another human beings life, the only way to settle accounts and uphold the dignity of life is to take that persons life. The image of God is the key in this covenant. The principle of capital punishment is biblical and right. What about Mercy? To want mercy is good. But that mercy would take form in a social setting where you don’t release criminals on the world. It would take the form of wanting him to be forgiven, praying for him, perhaps even visiting him in prison and offering to forgive him. But that forgiveness does not say, “I think it would be a good idea if he got let go or let up,” if he got a miscarriage of justice in the form of a lesser sentence of life in prison or pardoned. He will be let go in heaven, but here society won’t work. Romans 13 sets it up so that the government carries the sword to reward the good and to punish the evil, because society won’t work if governments don’t carry swords, prisons, fines, death penalties. So yes, it’s right to want mercy for criminals—to forgive them, not to hold grudges against them—and to want them to be punished.

Death Penalty Response Part II

Death Penalty

Death Penalty: should we believe in it? Reasons one wouldn’t: belief in rehabilitation, belief that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime, belief in God as the ultimate arbiter, belief in Christian or sentimental mercy/forgiveness, equating justice as revenge.

  1. Jesus Christ is the ultimate case of the death penalty. He became a man and was put to death to justify and acquit our egregious sins. Would it have been justice if our infinite sins against our infinitely good God were punished by Jesus sitting in a prison for life (the mere 60 more years on his 33 years of age an average human would live)? The crime: infinite sins, the punishment life in prison/60 years.   Justice is the death of God’s son (infinite goodness) who became man for our infinite sins. An infinite for an infinite.
  1. C.S. Lewis explains that treating criminals not with a view to punishment, but only with a view to remediation and deterrence is the end of justice and the seedbed of tyranny. It is dehumanization with a gentle face. Here is his quote: “Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case.’” If a criminal’s sentence does not have to accord with what he deserves, it does not have to be just. At that point we are all at the mercy of those who are in power to call anything we do a crime and give it any therapeutic or remedial solution they choose, including gas chambers and medical alterations.
  1. What about Christian mercy? If the concept of what a criminal deserves, and with it the concept of justice, is lost, mercy ceases to be. It is replaced by sentiment and caprice. As Lewis observes, “The essential act of mercy was to pardon; and pardon in its very essence involves the recognition of guilt and deserved punishment in the recipient. Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice; transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed.”
  1. God is the ultimate judge but God has given license to mankind to conduct societies and governments and to carry out justice in this life. He will be the final judge of our souls in the next life but in this life there are governmental bodies and manifestations of justice that we, men, are the arbiters of. Romans 13 sets it up so that the government carries the sword to reward the good and to punish the evil, because society won’t work if governments don’t carry swords, prisons, fines, death penalties.
  1. Revenge is the exact opposite of justice. Revenge is brazen and chaotic. It is emotional instead of retributional. Revenge cares not whether the harm inflicted on someone for the wrong suffered at their hands is equal in scope to the wrong committed. Justice, on the other hand, is methodical and rational. It is the exact degree of punishment a crime deserves regardless of any one persons wanton feelings about it. Justice by definition is the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

 

  1. Here is a hypothetical for the case that the death penalty does deter crime if it is equally implemented. Say on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays anyone that commits 1st degree murder gets the death penalty and on Sundays, Tuesdays , Thursdays and Saturdays everyone who commits 1st degree murder gets life in prison with the option of appeals and a lesser sentence on good behavior. Which days would 1st degree murders happen?

Remember this story? Anders Breivik’s sentence for killing 77 people at a youth camp in Norway on July 22, 2011 is outrageous. He was deemed sane and sentenced to serve 21 years in prison “in a three-cell suite of rooms equipped with exercise equipment, a television and a laptop.” That’s 100 days of posh prison time for each person he murdered, with a legal release possible at age 53. Life is cheap in Norway. The news agencies explained that such a sentence “is consistent with Norway’s general approach to criminal justice. Like the rest of Europe . . . Norway no longer has the death penalty and considers prison more a means for rehabilitation than retribution.”

They explained that “many Europeans” consider America’s criminal justice system to be “cruelly punitive.”

In fact, the news story explains that, after his 21-year smack-on-the-hand for killing 77 people, Breivik “could be kept there indefinitely by judges adding a succession of five-year extensions.” There it is. The issue is not what he deserves. The issue is not justice. The issue is power in the hands of judges who will decide if he has been “rehabilitated” sufficiently, and if his detainment has served the community to a suitable degree rather than serving his objectively just punishment which would be death.

Do you see the error in this? C. S. Lewis did.

Death Penalty