Clickbait and the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ninian Reid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninian_reid/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ninian Reid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninian_reid/

An odd story has begun to circle the web lately.

It seems that prosecutors in the Boston Marathon bomber case are (gasp!) asking qualifying questions of prospective jurors. Among these questions are a query as to whether or not said prospective juror would, if the evidence warrants it, find for the death penalty.

Now, if someone asked me that question, I would say, No, I will not find for the death penalty.

At that point, the prosecutor would reject me as a potential juror.

However, if one of my friends who supports the death penalty had been answering the question, a “yes” on their part would not in any way commit them to find for the death penalty in this particular case. The prosecution still has to prove the charges, and then he or she still has to convince these people to actually do the deed and sentence another human being to die.

It’s far from pro forma.

The new hyperbole is that this particular form of jury qualification is, in fact, a method of selectively disqualifying Catholics from jury membership. The reason is that it appears that many of the Catholics of Boston actually follow Church teaching concerning the death penalty. Or else, Boston is a very liberal area and they are following the liberal zeitgeist on the death penalty. Or else, the zeitgeist and the Church combine in these people’s hearts on the question of the death penalty.

I say that because the good people of Massachusetts appear to have no qualms about electing pro abortion politicians. So, I’m thinking their followership of Church teaching is somewhat conditional.

That aside, a lot of Catholics are getting tossed from consideration as jurors in the Boston Marathon bomber case. And, this, of all things, is rising to the top of the media milk as a form of “discrimination” about which the media somewhat cares. True, they are almost gagging on their words, and quickly rushing to assure readers that their real concern is discrimination against death penalty opponents, not Catholics.

But when the dust on this argument settles, “discrimination” against an idea, in this case opposition to the death penalty, rather than a group of people,  doesn’t hold a lot of legal water. So, the line of argument is forced to circle back to anti-Catholic talk again. You can almost hear the scribes stutter as they deal with what, for them, is a great emotional conundrum.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Christian bashing/hazing/mocking continues unabated in many of our universities and colleges, Christians are constantly being told to keep their faith at home and not act on it in public affairs, and Christian mom and pop business people are being told that they must participate in gay weddings or face fines, “sensitivity training,” even jail time. In one instance, ordained ministers were threatened with these things for refusal to perform gay weddings.

Elsewhere, Christians are burnt, beheaded, gang-raped, sold into slavery and herded into refugee camps. And the same pundits who are writing this latest stuff about the death penalty in the Boston Marathon bomber trial are not only silent, they often support those who seek to oppress religious freedom.

Christians are overtly attacked and mocked in the same media which has found its new cause in the supposed discrimination against Catholics in the jury selection in the Boston Marathon Bomber case.

I’m not buying it.

I do not believe that fair treatment of Catholics is the concern here. I think this is a back-handed way to attack the death penalty. While I do not favor the death penalty, I think the way to change that is through the law, not by crippling the judicial system by changing it to suit the caterwauling  section of our society.

I do not believe for one moment that it is discrimination for prosecutors to qualify jurors in this manner. They are not singling out Catholics. They are merely asking if the jurors would be willing, after considering the evidence, to find for the penalty which they, the prosecutors, are seeking.

This is a lot of things, but discrimination isn’t one of them. It is standard courtroom behavior. It is not, in itself, aimed at any group of people.

I could, if I was so inclined, frame all sorts of arguments about the death penalty based on the lopsided way in which it is applied to certain groups of people, in particular those who do not have the money to mount a sophisticated defense.

In my opinion, we talk too much about race in this matter and far too little about money. Race was a huge factor in the OJ murder trial (as a for-instance) but money was the real reason he got off. Race would never have become a factor if he had not had the money to mount an incredible defense. The same goes for a lot of other wealthy people.

The Boston Marathon bomber case is so high-profile that the question of money is not really valid. This young man is going to have a good defense.

To be honest, I’m not interested in this trial. First, I’m not a trial watcher. It’s not my idea of entertainment to watch people fight for their lives for real. Second, I had enough of terrorists and their drama with the Oklahoma City bombing. I have zero desire to revisit it unless duty — as in writing about ISIS et al — requires it. Even then, it is a sacrifice on my part that takes a lot out of me.

I am content to allow the people of Boston and their court system handle this particular situation. I don’t have to sit on this jury (thank God) and I don’t have to make these decisions.

As for the prosecutors qualifying prospective jurors in this manner, it is not discrimination, and frankly, I think most of the people raising the question are, based on their lack of concern and active participation in actual Christian bashing, mocking hazing in other quarters, insincere in doing so.

Turn the page folks and think on other things. This story is, in the words of someone I know, “clickbait.”

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Pope Francis to Lithuanian Bishops: Defend the Family

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Christians Need to Get Over the Things that Separate Us and Stand Together

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Wise words from Pope Francis. The gist of it is this: All Christians are brothers and sisters in Him, and we need to get over the things that separate us and stand together.

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Pope Francis: Without Fathers Young People Feel Orphaned

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

We have a nation of children who feel orphaned because their fathers are not in their lives.

Fatherhood requires something that a lot of people in our society have grown up thinking is immoral: It requires self-sacrifice and putting someone else ahead of yourself.

What it gives is something a lot of people in our society have been taught to think is worthless: Love and the incredible blessing of shielding and shepherding new life.

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300 Pakistani Muslims Attack Christian Boys School in Retaliation Against Charlie Hebdo

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by J. James Tissot Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by J. James Tissot Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Now this makes sense.

A publication in France published a cartoon that at least some Muslims find offensive. So, 300 Muslims in Pakistan attack a Christian boys’ school, injuring a bunch of unarmed Christian students.

Shouting idiotic slogans such as “We martyr for the prophet’s sanctity,” the mob attacked Panel High School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

This attacks follows another, more deadly one in Niger, where Muslim mobs, also “protesting” Charlie Hebdo,  burned down a number of churches and Christian pastor’s homes, killing at least 10 people.

I don’t know if the leaders of these attacks are aware that Charlie Hebdo mocks Christians, the Catholic Church in particular, far more than it does Muslims. I also don’t know if they are aware that the Christian response has been to argue back. I doubt it.

There is a pervasive air of ignorance hanging over behavior like this; ignorance, cowardice and sadism.

From The Christian Post:

Close to 300 Muslim students armed with iron bars and sticks attacked a Christian boys’ school in northern Pakistan, reportedly in retaliation to French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s controversial drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The attack left four Christians injured.

“It is very sad that Islamic radicals attack Pakistani Christians because of Charlie Hebdo. Christians condemn the blasphemous cartoons. It is a shame that even after 67 years since the birth of Pakistan, Christians have not yet been considered Pakistani citizens, but are seen as ‘Western allies,'” Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, told Fides News Agency.

The attack occurred on Panel High School in the city of Bannu, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Muslim students apparently were able to jump over the outer walls of the school and open the gates before attacking the Christians.

The school has been closed down at least for two days, with additional security measures being considered to protect the students.

Last weekend, Muslim mobs burned down a number of churches and pastors’ homes in Niger, also in protest of Charlie Hebdo’s drawings. At least 10 people were killed in the clashes, with pastors in the capital Niamey revealing that almost anyone associated with churches was targeted.

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Pope Francis: We Cannot Privatize Salvation

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

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ISIS Fighters Credit Airstrikes with Driving them from Khobani

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by European Commission DG https://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by European Commission DG https://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/

Kurdish fighters have defeated ISIS in a battle for the Syrian city of Khobani.

Seizure of Khobani, which is near the Turkish border, would have been a significant tactical victory for ISIS.

Kurdish defenders of the city have succeeded in stopping the ISIS advance after an intense and protracted battle. The Kurdish ground forces were heavily supported by US – led airstrikes.

According to interviews that ISIS fighters give to Amak, which is a news agency within Syria that has aligned itself with them, the airstrikes were decisive in ISIS’ defeat in this battle.

Given the enormous power that air superiority gives to any ground force, I would be surprised is that was not true. Also, effective air support of Kurdish forces on the ground is certainly a better option than American “boots on the ground.”

After withdrawing from Khobani, ISIS has opened a new line of attack in Kirkuk. ISIS has taken control of the oil filed in Kirkuk.

From KRDO.com:

And according to the interviews given to ISIS-aligned Amak news agency in Syria, it was those airstrikes that won the battle for Kobani, referred to by the fighters as Ayn Al-Islam.

“Recently, we have withdrawn from Ayn Al-Islam bit by bit, because of the airstrikes and deaths of a number of our brothers,” said one of the two fighters, his face covered apart from his eyes.

He points to a scene of destruction behind him but vows that ISIS will persist, “and this is the message we send to Obama.”

The second fighter interviewed by Amak stood near a road sign reading Ayn Al-Islam. He said ISIS forces had raided 360 villages around Kobani, from which the people “ran away like rats.”

But the reason behind their withdrawal from the city, he said, “is that we no longer had places to hold there. We were inside Ayn Al-Islam and we occupied more than 70%, but the airstrikes did not leave any building standing, they destroyed everything.”

His horror of the airstrikes was apparent.

“I swear by God, their planes did not leave the air, day and night; they did airstrikes all day and night. They targeted everything. They even attacked motorcycles; they have not left a building standing. But by God willing we will return and we will have our revenge multiplied.”

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Romney Won’t Run for Prez

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Alter https://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Alter https://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/

Mitt Romney announced today that he will not run for President of the United States in 2016.

I regard this announcement as something of a gift to the Republican party. Governor Romney’s run in 2012 highlighted his weaknesses as a presidential candidate. He evidently draws enthusiastic support from the business side of the Republican party, but does not generate corresponding enthusiasm from the party’s rank and file. A different candidate, who could have united the party and who was more attractive to working class Americans, might have won in 2012.

It will be interesting to see how the field of candidates in both parties shapes up in the coming months. One thing is certain: There is no interest in Washington in governing this country now. Everyone is in their usual don’t-do-anything-to-mess-up-our-chances-in-the-next-election cowardly Congressman posture.

I, for one, wonder when, if ever, any of these people are going to stop running for office and do the job they were elected to do.

But I digress.

The news of the moment is that Governor Romney will not be a candidate for president in 2016. Now, we’ll see what that decision does to the horserace.

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Update: Representative Sally Kern Withdraws Bill from Consideration

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern has withdrawn HB 1597 from consideration. According to news reports, Representative Kern indicated that the measure did not accomplish her desired purpose. To read a summary of HB 1597, go here.

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Oklahoma Legislators Take Aim at Gay Marriage

 

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives. Official file photo.

Oklahoma legislators have introduced 4 bills concerning gay marriage and civil rights for homosexuals and transsexuals.

Representative Sally Kern has introduced 3 bills:

HB 1599, which is designated the Preservation of Sovereignty  and Marriage Act, is a broad piece of legislation that seeks to dictate future findings by the courts, activities by state employees and expenditures of state monies in regards to same-sex marriage.

HB 1597 is another far-reaching bill. It does not address same-sex marriage, but instead says that no business can be forced to offer service to “any lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender person, group or association.”

HB 1598 allows mental health providers to engage in conversion therapy. As I understand it, conversion therapy seeks to change homosexual orientation to heterosexual by means of talk therapy.

I doubt that any of these bills will get a hearing in committee. If they should happen to make it out of committee, their chances of coming to a vote on the House Floor are even more dim. If, by a combination of legislative pressures, they do come to a vote of the full House, they are almost certainly DOA in the Senate. A lot of times, whether or not these things come to a vote depends on the determination and skill of the individual legislator and the amount of support he or she has in the body.

Having said that, I can tell you that the legislation as drafted oversteps all sorts of legal bounds. They would not stand, even if they managed to become law.

HB 1599 overreaches in a lot of ways, but the obvious ones are that it seeks to tell judges ahead of time what they may rule. This is outside the province of a legislative body. The legislature certainly does have the power to determine how state monies are spent, so the part of the bill that would limit state appropriations for activities concerning same-sex marriage would have a good chance of withstanding a court challenge, at least in principle.

The fact that it is not an appropriations bill and does not address appropriations per se might lead to its being overturned because of vagueness. However, by putting these two unrelated matters together in one bill, Representative Kern has created a piece of legislation with two topics in two areas of law. This is called log-rolling, and is in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution.

HB 1597 is clearly a violation of the civil rights of homosexuals and transsexuals. The law seeks to set up a system of discrimination in service regarding a specific class or group of people. It does not address legitimate First Amendment concerns regarding religious beliefs. It allows service providers to refuse service to a group of people because they are members of that group and for no other reason.

HB 1598 is the only one of the three bills that has legal merit. The question of whether or not therapists may use a particular therapy has become loaded when it concerns “conversion therapy” as it is used with homosexuals. A few states have made “conversion therapy” illegal. However, the real question is whether or not legislative bodies should be passing laws dictating which therapeutic approach is the correct one for health care providers to use. Dictating medical procedures and therapies is outside the province of legislative bodies, or it should be.

The whole discussion revolves around political correctness, with both sides slinging statistics and accusations, but the real issue is legislative bodies overstepping their bounds.

Senator Corey Brooks. Photo Source: Oklahoma State Senate. Official file photo.

Senator Corey Brooks. Photo Source: Oklahoma State Senate. Official file photo.

Senator Corey Brooks has authored SB 478. This is a good bill, which I hope will pass. It protects people from prosecution and civil liability if their religious beliefs require them to abstain from participation in a same-sex marriage ceremony.

In truth, I do not expect Senator Brooks’ bill to get very far, either. The reason is simple:  I expect that the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce will oppose it, and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce controls both the legislative and executive branches of Oklahoma’s government.

Their control is close to being dictatorial, and, as I said in another post, they are not all that nice about how they use it. Threats, which are not idle threats, are their standard way of dealing with legislators who do not do what they are told. Most Republican legislators are afraid of them, and with good reason.

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