September 14, 2011

Sally Kern as member of IndigNation

Fred Clark nails it again, I think, in this brilliant piece: The IndigNation, defending bullies and the martyr Sally Kern | slacktivist. I have always tried to find a way to describe the victimhood of the right, but this is a better way of saying it.

Kern's arrogance at calling criticism of her "stoning" is really interesting, and speaks to another trend that I find very troubling in the far right--the complete unwillingness to admit error. Bush couldn't do it. Palin can't even conceptualize the idea, and it seems that Romney can only admit error when it was the right thing to do--like providing healthcare. I was thinking about that with regard to the death penalty, and Rick Perry's horrible record of being the most deadly governor in history, or some such fact. This has included several that were questionable at best, including the story of Cameron Todd Willingham who was executed in 2004 based on some very questionable evidence. Questionable enough, at least, to provide more than credible questions to his conviction. After the execution, when people wanted to inquire, Perry shut down the investigation, and still claims that there is no evidence of innocence. Except there was.

Conservative Christians are fond of quoting scripture when it helps their case. Verses condemning homosexuality are well known, and I have been told over and over that God "hates" homosexuality, and that is not up for debate. But as I have argued, it is amazing to me how many scripture verses on wealth, or poverty, or war and peace are equally as adamant as those on the OT on gays--but those are never read as absolutes. They are read with context and nuance and, ultimately, with the conclusion, "God didn't mean that being rich was a problem," or "God didn't really mean to love our enemies as ourselves" and surely "God didn't mean that if someone asks for our coat we should give them our shirt as well," because that would be welfare. As our friend Monk pointed out in the comments at ATK, the Bible is pretty strident about executing the innocent:
Exodus 23:6 "Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge10 and do not put an innocent11 or honest person to death,12 for I will not acquit the guilty. (NIV)

Funny how I have never heard that one before. Funny how that has never come up in conversation when invoking the scriptures to defend this institution. Sadly, I have had conversations with Christians where even the prospect of an innocent person being executed was not a deal breaker.

But imagine if all the scriptures were actually taken as seriously as the ones condemning homosexuality? Imagine the response to torture, or to cutting off funding for the disabled poor? Or perhaps, the Tea Party would have shuddered softly at the sound of the 200 plus executions rather than openly applauding. Or perhaps, even, if Rick Perry were half as devout as he claimed, he would have embraced the investigation into Willingham's execution as a chance to either exonerate the system, or provide an opportunity for asking forgiveness for failing God in this effort.

Yet, clearly, the only scripture verses that are really that sacred, are those that reinforce their pre-existing views. Because Perry and the Tea Party see the judicial system as flawed when it lets off someone like OJ Simpson, but without possibility of failure when it executes the huge numbers they run through their death chair. And not a thought seems to pass their mind that perhaps, perhaps, there is something worth checking out.

As many have noted, the states with the highest execution rates used to lead us in lynching. And I am afraid that the Tea Party crowd (as Monk again pointed out) that cheered Perry's execution record, is the same crowd that used to flock around the hanging black person for a picture.

That isn't Christian.


Bob said...

"But imagine if all the scriptures were actually taken as seriously as the ones condemning homosexuality?"

I am not surprised. The Tea Party/Repubs don't uniformly hold themselves to their own rules, let alone the Bible.

They don't trust the Government, but they trust the government to put people to death?

They scream about so-called death panels in the health care bill, but killing the innocent in the judicial system is OK?

They yell out that it is OK to let a person without insurance die as a result of not taking personal responsibility, but it’s not OK for the Government to demand personal responsibility by requiring insurance or paying a fine?

Smitty said...

The Tea Party/Repubs don't uniformly hold themselves to their own rules, let alone the Bible.

A tad off-topic, but speaking of following their rules, I see there is a huge push in the evangelical community to do this Quiverful thing, where your family strives to lead a "biblical life" by following all of the bible's rules for living, spouses, children, etc.

Of course, there is also a website called No Longer Quivering, for women who have left that movement because they were sick of the abuse and depression it yields.

Anonymous said...

In theory, there is nothing at all immoral about executing someone who has committed a captial crime. The problem comes with making certain that the accused is really guilty. If the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt, then fine, pull the switch.

But governments, at every level, are corrupt. Maybe not 100% corrupt, but corrupt to a large degree. I don't trust any of them. I've caught them in too many lies. I've seen too much evidence against them. And because I don't trust the government to get anything right, I oppose the death penalty. Not because I am unwilling to execute the guilty, but because I don't trust the government.

Smitty said...

The problem comes with making certain that the accused is really guilty. If the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt, then fine, pull the switch.

Therein, anonymous, lies the problem. The evidence against Cameron Todd Willingham for a time was indeed "beyond a reasonable doubt." He was convicted on exactly that standard; our criminal standard of proof we require of The People. And Willingham was killed.

But now, postmortem, folks are finding that the case against him was flawed and that we was innocent. Not only not deserving of the death penalty, but factually innocent.

People factually guilty die on death row. But so do factually innocent people. death penalty. Ditch it.

Streak said...

I am with you, Smitty. I see no upside to the Death Penalty and tremendous downside. Plus, I don't think the supporters recognize just how bloodthirsty they are.