May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, no less — was Patheos’ 5th birthday.
Big Number Five.
I, for one, am glad that Patheos is here.
Because I can write what I want.
And think what I think.
(I mean that.)
May 5 — Cinco de Mayo, no less — was Patheos’ 5th birthday.
Big Number Five.
I, for one, am glad that Patheos is here.
Because I can write what I want.
And think what I think.
(I mean that.)
The FBI stands ready to assist Nigeria to help find the approximately 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Considering the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s government to deal effectively with Boko Haram, I think they should consider taking the offer.
What role does government corruption play in the continued successes that Boko Haram has had at killing unarmed civilians and burning down churches and schools? This kidnapping is not the first time Boko Haram has attacked a Nigerian school.
On February 24 of this year, they slaughtered 59 boys aged 11 to 18 by shooting and burning them at a government school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, Nigeria. They also burned the school’s 24 buildings to the ground.
The government was not able to stop them, even though an attack like this must have taken quite a bit of time. The government has been unable to track Boko Haram down and kill or capture their leaders.
Boko Haram appears to be heavily armed with expensive weapons, as well as having pickup trucks, armored vehicles and motorcycles. I’ve raised the question of money before. It takes money to buy these things. It also takes money to buy gasoline, food and the other necessities of maintaining this group.
Who is funding Boko Haram?
Why is the Nigerian government unable to track them down? How can they manage to engage in sustained attacks on schools in which they murder large numbers of people by shooting them, then have the time to burn down the facilities and burn the bodies as well without the government responding?
I have no doubt that the FBI can find these people. Nigeria needs to take all the help it can get.
From ABC News:
U.S. law enforcement officials said today that the FBI is standing ready for a possible deployment to Nigeria to help find the 276 teenage girls abducted from a school, but that no help had yet been requested.
“Last week, the attorney general told U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report for him on the kidnapping of the 300 girls in Nigeria and also requested an assessment of Boko Haram, the militant group behind the kidnapping,” a government official told ABC News.
As many as 300 girls, ages 16 to 18, were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 15, according to the Associated Press. The students had been studying for final exams at their local school.
Police said that about 53 had escaped but as many as 276 remained in captivity. The leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the kidnapping and said he intended to sell the girls in the marketplace, according to a video obtained by the news agency AFP.
We’re going to have to find another word.
That’s what happens when organized groups with an agenda do their lying thing and massage, twist and shave the meaning of a word that evokes powerful emotions into a meaningless, politicized hulk of its former self.
Words have power to evoke emotion and, with some words, outrage. Somewhere back in the first half of the twentieth century the big-time government monsters among us figured this out. Instead of accepting the plain meaning of plain words and changing their behavior, they set out, first to find substitute words that would blur the emotional response to their reactions, and then to batter the meaning of existing words into dust.
Thus, mass murder became a “final solution” which morphed into “ethnic cleansing,” while slavery and brainwashing were called “re-education.” Killing a baby was labeled a “choice” and then a “termination.” In this century, we have been treated to the spectacle of torture being called “enhanced interrogation.”
It’s all the same lie, the same manipulation, the same evil.
This manipulation of words is a separate and additional evil from the acts that it attempts to gloss over. It is an act of aggression, aimed, not at the victims of whatever it is trying to cover up, but at the sanity of society as a whole. If our words become politicized gibberish, our thinking becomes muddled and gibbering along with them.
The precise and honest use of language is the essential tool for precise and honest thinking. What the spinmeisters are doing by butchering our language is destroying the ability to think clearly of the citizens of our nation and our world.
Torture is the “final solution/re-education/choice” of the first decade of the 21st century. The deliberate destruction of our public sensitivity to torture through the use of lies and ridiculous parsing has led to the destruction of the meaning of the word itself. We have arrived at the it-depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-the-word-is- is point with torture.
We are faced with having to find a new word, even as the old one continues to be twisted, narrowed and broadened into utter meaninglessness.
What began as the American experiment in justifying torture to a population that had long prided itself on how well it treated its prisoners has morphed into the use of the word to label criminal malfeasance and taking positions on social issues that one finds disagreeable as torture.
On the one hand, we have our CIA and neo-con enthusiasts going around seriously trying to claim that water boarding a helpless prisoner is not torture because it doesn’t break bones and rupture internal organs. On the other hand, we have the totalitarian nitwits of the abortion-at-any-cost crowd at the United Nations trying to claim that the Catholic Church is torturing women by saying that abortion is the killing of an innocent child.
Top that off with a conjoined United Nations attempt to claim that the Church’s admitted malfeasance in the area of child sexual abuse by priests is somehow or other torture, and you’ve got a word that no longer means much of anything.
Did the Catholic Church torture children by transferring sexual predator priests from one parish to another? No. The Church made a hash of its own moral authority and violated everything it stands for. The Church violated civil laws and its own teachings.
Is the Catholic Church the only institution with a history of allowing sexual predators to flourish in its midst? No. Virtually every institution that I know of has done this, which would make the UN’s new definition of torture ubiquitous rather than specific. What is different about the Church as opposed to other institutions is not a matter of law. It is a matter of outrage.
The Church betrayed Christ by transferring those priests. Every bishop who did this put clericalism and the good old boy buddy system ahead of his call to be a shepherd. Every bishop who did this betrayed his calling and his Lord; his Church and its people. These bishops behaved like corporate CEOs instead of priests, and that is the outrage and betrayal of their actions.
This was not torture. As evil as torture is, this was something far worse. It was a betrayal of Christ crucified among us by the men who have vowed to represent Him in this world.
This mis-use of the word torture to try to advance political and social agendas is a specific evil all of its own. Torture as a word is becoming another meaningless victim of our desire to to do evil and not be called evil for having done it.
Destroying a word as important as torture has ramifications that go far beyond linguistics. It means destroying an idea, maiming our moral understandings and weakening our ability to think rationally.
Torture is never acceptable. Torture is an intrinsic evil. I’m going to write about this in more detail, but the American experiment in thought control via the many lies and verbal shape shiftings surrounding our use of torture against prisoners since 9/11 is an evil that is separate and distinct from the evil of torture itself.
If we are outraged by the United Nations propaganda attack of trying to claim that the Catholic Church is torturing women by saying that abortion is a sin — and we should be outraged — we have only ourselves to blame. We, the United States of America, are the ones who have destroyed the meaning of the word in order to obfuscate our own actions.
This brainwashing of the public mind by insisting that torture means something other than what it means has side effects. Evil doesn’t just stake its claim in our societies and content itself with that one spot. It is a kudzu vine that takes root and grows outward, overtaking and smothering our moral sensibilities.
The evil of lying to and brainwashing the public to accept torture by narrowing the meaning of the word into preposterous meaningless has a flip side. We are seeing that flip side at the United Nations. If a word can be narrowed into meaninglessness, the same word can also be expanded into meaninglessness.
People with agendas can use the residual emotion the word still evokes. They use this residual emotion to justify political attacks by linking the word to actions where it does not apply and than claiming a faux moral outrage against organizations, actions and even ideas they dislike.
The Church did not commit torture when it betrayed Our Lord by transferring abusing priests. That is not what the word means. The claims that the Church is today committing torture against women by teaching that abortion is a grave sin, are too stupid to try to answer. It is obvious propaganda. It demands that the public acquiesce in its own brainwashing.
But the basis for making such claims lies in the torture to which the word torture has been subjected in recent years by the social and cultural brainwashers of our own government.
The great sin — and I use that moral word deliberately — is the lie and violation of human thought that is propaganda and brainwashing by the callous mis-labeling and mis-use of powerful words. This is done first to lie to whole populations of people about matters of terrible import, and then, in its ultimate application, to get them to lie to themselves about the same things.
“They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them.”
Those are the words of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.
Mr Shekau was talking about the large number of high school girls that his followers abducted April 15 from their school after a firefight with government troops.
He recently released a video in which he takes responsibility for the mass abduction and says the students “will remain slaves with us.”According to a Fox News article that statement is a reference to the jihadi custom of enslaving women captured in a holy war, who then can be used as sex slaves. Mr Shekau threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls in the same video.
Reports had emerged before the video was released that Boko Haram had forced some the girls to marry after being sold for a bride price of $12.
Two of the girls are said to have died of snakebite and 20 others are reported to be ill. The Christian girls have been forced to convert to Islam.
Protesters all over Nigeria have expressed anger at the government’s failure to find the abducted girls. President Jonathan Goodluck issued a statement Sunday night saying that his administration is doing everything possible (to find the girls.)
Boko Haram gunmen raided a Cameroonian police unit that is near the Nigerian border today. They killed a police officer and freed one of their jailed comrades.
From Fox News:
An Islamic extremist leader has threatened to sell the 276 teenage girls his terror group abducted from a school in northeast Nigeria three weeks ago.
In a videotape screened by the Associated Press Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the April 15 kidnappings for the first time. He also threatened to attack more schools and take additional girls.
“I abducted your girls,” said the leader of Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful.”
He described the girls as “slaves” and said “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.” The hour-long video starts with fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that prayers said before the town council meetings in Greece, NY do not violate the Constitution.
Justice Kennedy wrote the majority decision which said in part that there is a historical precedent for opening legislative meetings with a prayer that the even though the prayers offered at the New York town’s council meetings were predominantly Christian in nature, they were not coercive but rather “evoked universal themes” such as “calling for a spirit of cooperation.”
From Today’s Catholic News:
Kennedy wrote that the “inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers.”
He said that unless the prayers “over time denigrate, proselytize or betray an impermissible government purpose” they will “not likely establish a constitutional violation.” He also wrote that because the town had followed a policy of nondiscrimination it was not required by the Constitution to search beyond its borders for those who could offer non-Christian prayers in an attempt to provide balance.
My pal Kathy Schiffer tagged me in the writing relay, #mywritingprocess.
Now I’m up, and this should be a piece of cake. After all, this relay asks me, a blogging politician, to talk about myself. How tough is that? Get your earplugs and eyeshades ready.
1. What are you working on?
We’re entering the home stretch with the legislative session — crazy time — so I’m not “working” on anything. I’m just running from one thing to the next. Kind of like playing a giant game of wackamole that isn’t a game. It’s my life.
In between that, and oftentimes while I’m actively doing something else, I hammer out blog posts. I try to proof read before I post, but no matter how many times I proof, I always see mistakes after I post and have to make corrections online. Then, I re-read and do it again. And again. And again.
If it wasn’t for kindly readers who give me a nudge once in a while, I would end up with some really stupid errors out there for the whole wide world to see. Some days, it happens anyway.
Does that answer “What are you working on?” Maybe not. Probably not. I am also writing a book, which is the first of three books I am going to write. But I put that on hold until June for the simple reason that it doesn’t lend itself to the stop and go craziness of end of session life.
Not that blogging does lend itself to it.
But blogging can be bent to work … most of the time.
I’ll probably have to take a blogging hiatus for a week or so toward the end of the month. I’m pretty elastic, but there are limits to how far I can stretch writing abilities.
2. What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
The difference is the me that I put into it. Lots of people can write about faith. Even more people can write about politics/public life/challenges to faith. But I’m the only one who can write about it as me, with my unique viewpoint and ideas.
Egotistical as this sounds, I think that’s what makes my work special. I’m not talking only about blogging, but my work as a legislator and every other thing I’ve done in my life, including raising my kids.
I am my own unique self, as is everyone who reads this. What I have to offer to any endeavor I undertake is that essential and totally unique self, that me-ness. I honestly think that where so many people go wrong is that they try too hard to be like everyone else. If you focus on being like somebody else and doing what other people would do, you’ll end up living somebody else’s life.
I’m not the best writer at Patheos. Not even close. But I am the only writer here with my experiences, my ideas, my thought processes and unique values.
I don’t run away from myself.
That’s what makes my work stand out.
3. Why do you write what you write?
I have a sense of mission about what I’m doing at Patheos. I honestly believe that the reason I am here is what Protestants call “a God deal.” I guess you could say that I was tapped to write before Kathy tapped me for this writing relay.
I write what I write because I think it needs to be said.
4. How does your writing process work?
Maybe I should wait until I have a writing process to answer this one.
I write fast because I don’t have the option of writing slow. I can’t linger over word choices or meditate on possible reactions. I have to write it and then immediately go do something else. I basically use the same writing “formula” that I use for speechmaking.
When I first began making lots of speeches, I borrowed from something that President Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign manager once told Eleanor. Mrs Roosevelt was extremely shy and self-conscious. But because of her husband’s disability, she had to step up and make a lot of speeches on his behalf. His campaign manager gave her a bit of advice that, if you follow it, removes the terror from public speaking and writing:
“Have something to say. Say it. And sit down,” he told her.
That’s how I write. I don’t try for eloquence or even profundity. My goal is to have something to say, say it and then back off and let Public Catholic’s readers chew on it.
The identifiable process that I use revolves more around the technology I lean on to help me get things done. I have a Macbook Air 11” that literally fits in a big-ish purse and can be carried anywhere. When I’m out and about, I write with that. I use a blogging software called Mars Edit to draft my posts. I avoid writing online because I’ve lost too many things that way and because the internet can go to s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-w with no warning.
By writing in Mars Edit, I can get it down. Then if the internet goes daft, I can wait it out by doing other things without fear of losing what I’ve written.
I have an old Mac Pro that I use when I’m at home. It is a fantastic computer with all the horses I need for the different things I do.
I use Macs because they don’t give me attitude, and they never wear out. I’ve never had a Mac go belly up on me. Not once in the all the years I’ve used them.
Passing the Torch
You’re gonna love the blogger I’ve tapped for the next installment of Writer Selfie. The Crescat, aka, Katrina Fernandez, who is my nominee for the most honest and uninhibited blogger on Patheos, is up next. I am so excited. I can’t wait to see what she does with this.
I’m not sure what to make of this.
According to The Daily Caller this interview with Margaret Sanger and someone she calls John surfaced when British Pathe, a newsreel company uploaded 85,000 of its films to YouTube. The films were originally aired between 1896 and 1976.
This particular news reel is an interview with Margaret Sanger (who the interviewer calls Mrs Sleen, or something like that) about what was evidently her call for women to cease having babies for 10 years.
I have no idea how serious she was. Was this a publicity stunt? Or did she mean it?
Nothing in this video tells us the answer.
Whatever Mrs Sanger’s purpose was in issuing this call, it appears that, at least among women in the “enlightened” West, she has been heard. Birth rates among Western Europeans are below replacement rate. The birth rate among caucasian Americans has fallen so low that they are projected to fall into minority status in a few decades.
This is ironic, considering that Mrs Sanger sold her ideas by saying that we needed to eliminate what she termed “inferiors” through “regulated birth.”
Here, for your enjoyment, is a weird little interview with Margaret Sanger.
FGM. Female Genital Mutilation.
This practice, which is widespread, involves holding down little girls while the women of a community hack away her external genitalia until they have cut all of it off. They then sew her vagina shut. They often also sew the labias shut, leaving only a small opening for urination.
Over time, the resulting scar tissue create in a permanent closure which must be forced open when the girl marries.
This terrible practice is almost universal in many parts of the Middle East, as well as Africa. it results in deaths from infection, blood loss and shock at the time of the mutilation, and deaths in childbirth later on. It also ensures horrifically painful sexual intercourse.
FGM is the ultimate chastity belt, designed to “prove” a girl’s “virtue” to her future husband. In areas where it is practiced, it is considered a necessary component of a girl’s marriageability.
Because people from the parts of the world where little girls are mutilated in this way are migrating in large numbers to the West, it is a growing problem here, as well. I passed a law banning Female Genital Mutilation in Oklahoma a few years back. The main obstacle to it was the ignorance of Okies about the practice and a disbelief that such a thing could happen here.
Added to that was the propensity to kill bills simply because they could by the paid staff which actually was making most of the decisions in both the Senate and the House. I almost lost the bill. The thing that allowed me to pass it was when the Oklahoma State Medical Association, with their massive lobbying clout, came on board and backed it.
Even though I was more than glad for the OSMA’s help, the fact that they could do this indicates the power of lobbies in our legislature, as well as the lack of concern for the content of the legislation itself. At that time, it was almost impossible to pass a bill without the imprimatur of a powerful lobbying organization.
I only mention that to make readers aware that we cannot sit back and feel superior about the barbarisms against women and girls in other parts of the world. Female Genital Mutilation is now happening in the West and we need to outlaw it and enforce those laws.
If it’s difficult to get through the blindness about FGM here in the West, it is even more difficult to step outside of cultural misogyny in the areas where FGM is considered a social requirement.
That’s why it’s gratifying to learn that the Catholic Church in Kenya has stepped out onto the cultural ice and taken a stand against FGM. No Christian, ever, should subject their daughter to this barbaric practice.
FGM is not required by any religion. Even though it is almost universally practiced in many Muslim countries, it is not a requirement of the Muslim faith.
In areas where it is the cultural and social norm, both Christians and Muslims “cut” their little girls and mutilate them this way.
This sort of mutilation of young girls is, of course, an extreme form of misogyny. It is also an expression of the grave moral injustice of the sexual double standard that has been used to terrorize and limit the lives of young girls in so many parts of the globe.
I am thrilled that the Catholic Church in Kenya has finally come out against FGM. I hope that all Christian leaders of every denomination in every part of the world will soon follow suit. Such actions are hundreds of years overdue. Silence about the barbarism of violence against women and girls is the single greatest blot on the history of Christianity.
Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply sinful cruelty against women and girls. No Christian should practice it, and no Christian should be silent about it.
The development office of the Catholic diocese of Maralal in Samburu has an active desk that is mandated to ensure that issues on gender based violence are addressed. The Church is on the frontline to fight the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation which is a harmful rite of passage, still practiced despite its negative side effects. It is one among the most common forms of gender based violence in Samburu.
Some 3 million women and girls face Female Genital Mutilation every year, while some 100 to 140 million have already undergone the practice. From a medical point of view it is unhealthy and causes adverse gynecological conditions. Some of the negative effects of the same include injury to adjacent tissues of the vagina, profuse bleeding, shock, acute urine retention, HIV/Aids infections and recurrent urinary tract Infections.
The diocese has facilitated awareness creation in Samburu County on the adverse effects of harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, early and forced marriages and sexual violence against women. The Justice and peace Department of the diocese deals with 4-5 cases of gender based violence every week.
The Catholic Church has a girl child education and Rescue Centre in Suguta Mar Mar Parish premises, located 42 kilometres away from Samburu County headquarters. The Centre accommodates girls who have escaped from their homes to find shelter there. The girls are victims of FGM, forced/early marriages and other forms of gender based violence. The sister in charge of the rescue centre Sister Fransisca Nzilani says “it is difficult to support these girls without funding. The girls depend on the rescue centre for most of their basic needs which include sanitary towels, education, stationery, food, clothing and shelter on a monthly basis”
The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first US case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS)
MERS, which is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus (SARS) which killed 800 people in China in the 2002-03, is fatal in up to one third of the people who contract it.
Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Imminzation and Respiratory Diseases said that while the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” it is still a concern because of the “virulence” of the virus and that fact that it can be transmitted from one person to the next.
The male patient had returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia on April 24, connecting from Riyadh to London to Chicago. He then took a bus to Indiana.
He experienced respiratory symptoms on April 27 and was diagnosed with MERS on April 28. The patient is said to be in stable condition and is being treated with appropriate protocols, including isolation.
Only 262 people have been diagnosed with MERS. Ninety-three of those have died of the illness. Little is known about MERS. It is believed that the virus is transmitted to humans through camels, but even that is somewhat speculative.
(Reuters) – A healthcare worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS), an often fatal illness, raising new concerns about the rapid spread of such diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.
The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.
On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.
Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.The virus is similar to the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people. It was first detected inSaudi Arabia.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call the first U.S. case of MERS was “of great concern because of its virulence,” proving fatal in about a third of infections.She said the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” but MERS has been shown to spread to healthcare workers and there are no known treatments for the virus.
It’s a compliment in a way.
Satanists aren’t trying to put monuments to their master in front of the Capitol Building in Washington.
Evidently, the people they want to go head to head with live in little ole Oklahoma.
Who would ever have thought that Oklahoma would be deemed important enough in the culture wars for this honor? I guess somebody who walks on the dark side thinks we need our little light covered up a bit.
Whatever their reasoning, members of the Satanic Temple announced a fund-raising drive to place a statue of Satan on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds a few months ago. Their stated goal was to raise $20,000, but the times being what they are, $30,000 came rolling in for this worthy project.
Now, the instigators of this brain whatever have released photos of the statue paying homage to Satan that they want to place on Oklahoma’s capitol grounds.
It is, as we say in these parts, a dandy.
I’m not up on my satanism, but what I see is an obelisk-looking plank with a pentagram atop standing next to a statue of His Lordship, the Prince of the Dark Realm — or is that Baphomet?? This dude comes complete with a ram’s head with what looks like two horns and a tree growing out of the top of it. The ram’s head sits on the shoulders of a buff human body. Two 1950s-style children are staring worshipfully up at this lovable fellow while he holds one hand aloft in what appears to be a two-fingered version of the Boy Scout salute.
This deal is one fine piece of satanic kitsch.
Of course, the ACLU has our capitol grounds all tied up in a court challenge to a law we passed a few years back, placing a plaque with the Ten Commandments on it out there on the lawn. After all, plaques with the Ten Commandments are scary, right? I mean, it endangers all our freedoms to put something like that right out in public.
This ACLU zealotry for protecting innocents from the Ten Commandments is bad luck for the satanists. It appears they’re going to have a long wait before their artwork — or any new artwork — is even eligible to be considered for placement on the Capitol grounds. Then, if they don’t get what they want — and I can see a valid case for denying them based entirely on the artistic merits of this thing — I imagine they’ll head off to court.
In the meantime, I would like to raise one small question. Why would anybody worship Satan? Atheism, I can see. I mean, I don’t agree with it, but I can see where its adherents are coming from. But to worship an entity who is well known for creating every kind of misery there is, and who enjoys our pain and suffering and feeds off it, well, if you’ll pardon me for saying so, that’s not too bright.
It’s right up there with drinking arsenic because you like the taste of sweet things.
Be that as it may, we do have ourselves a bit of really creepy Satanic art to peruse while we’re waiting for the next call in this little doh-si-doh.
If the ACLU wins, and the Ten Commandments are banned from the Capitol lawn, then I suppose that leaves the Satanists with an expensive piece of ugly statuary to dispose of. If, on the other hand, the state wins (unlike others around the country, our attorney general actually defends state laws in court) then it’s up to the arts committee to work out for themselves if this thing has artistic merit, or if it’s just a laughable eyesore.
After that, I expect we’ll be off to court again.
Grab your partners and promenade right.
Oklahoma managed to execute a prisoner this week, but we did it in the most ungainly fashion possible.
Make no mistake about it, Mr Clayton Locket is dead, and the reason why is that he was executed on Tuesday night of this week by the people of the State of Oklahoma. Also and again, make no mistake about it, in the parlance of the death penalty debate, Mr Clayton Locket “deserved” to die.
He was a cold-blooded killer and a mad dog prisoner who evidently never showed a moment’s remorse in all the years since he shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman twice and then buried her alive.
I want to pause here and make what is, for me at least, the most important observation. Stephanie Neiman was a brave young girl who had just graduated from high school. Her murder left behind two devastated parents who will grieve all their lives. Stephanie Neiman deserves our sympathy; as for sympathy for Mr Locket, I’m fresh out.
This sounds for all the world like I’m leading up to a defense of the death penalty. I am not. I oppose the death penalty and I have the votes, going back through decades of legislative service, to prove it. I have never voted for the death penalty. I have always voted against it. Even deep in my anti-God period, I opposed the death penalty.
Back in my anti-God period, the reason was simple and direct. I come from a poor background. I have sat in courtrooms and listened as police officers perjured themselves to give testimony to convict someone. I have listened to testimony in which witnesses said under oath that law enforcement had instructed them to lie to help them convict a “bigger fish” or face criminal prosecution themselves.
I wasn’t motivated by a belief in a consistent respect for the sanctity of human life at that time. After all, I was doing everything I could to keep abortion “safe and legal.” What motivated me was the simple fact that I knew — not guessed, but knew — that our justice system is too rife with human weakness to be allowed to take a person’s life.
That was back then in my anti-God period. I still have not evolved to the point that I can honestly say I feel sorry for people who do heinous things to other people. I am not wracked with sympathy for Mr Locket because it took him just under an hour to die from the drugs that were administered to him Tuesday.
My sympathy is all with Stephanie Neiman and her parents. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Stephanie Neiman, raped repeatedly, begging for her life, shot twice and then still alive while the dirt fell over her head?
How must it be for her parents to know that their beautiful little girl, the baby they brought home from the hospital, the little girl dancing under the Christmas tree, the young woman who had just graduated from high school, died alone and inhaling dirt?
No. I’m all out of sympathy for Mr Clayton Locket, the man who murdered Stephanie and then went on to threaten to kill prison guards and throw feces at people and who repeatedly made weapons out of objects in prison to use on other prisoners.
I oppose the death penalty for one simple reason. The Clayton Lockets of this world are murderers. I am not.
The press surrounding this botched execution has, predictably, run straight to purple. A guest on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is reported to have likened Mr Locket’s execution to medieval torture. I can only assume that Miss Maddow and her guest don’t know very much about medieval torture. Likewise for all the other over-the-top nonsense I’ve been reading.
The death penalty is wrong because it’s unnecessary killing. We have what it takes to deep six these guys in our prison systems and leave them there until they die their natural deaths. I am not talking about, and I do not support, anything less than a total and absolute life sentence with no paroles, parole hearings, or compassionate truncations.
I don’t care if these murderers serve 60 long years and then get a terminal illness and petition to go home to die. There are some crimes that must mean that you die in prison. Heinous murders are such crimes.
We need a sane discussion of the death penalty in this country. The purpose of any law concerning legal punishments for crimes should always be to provide for the public good. Vengeance has no place in the law.
I do not doubt for a single moment that there are people who should never be allowed to walk free in our society. I do not limit that consideration to heinous murderers. I think violent or repeat rapists, gang rapists and child rapers should all be put in prison for life. The recidivism rate on violent sexual predators is simply too high to let these people out to prey again.
However, we do not have the right to kill people.
Let me say that again.
We do not have the right to kill people.
Human life belongs to God and we may not arbitrarily end it.
I believe that self-defense is always an exception to this, for the simple reason that every life is precious, including our own. I believe that I can use deadly force to defend my life or the lives of others. I extend that right of self-defense to nations, as well.
But other than acting in self defense, killing any human being is always wrong.
Governments are charged with providing for the safety of their citizens, which is a clear form of self-defense. We do not need the death penalty to provide for the public safety. We can lock these killers up and keep them locked up. We also do not have to let them give interviews, call their victims and all the other many things they indulge in while behind bars.
Mr Locket’s death was not medieval torture. That’s just bizarre hyperbole. If you’re looking for a better example of wanton disregard for life, and something that approaches torture, consider what Mr Locket did to Stephanie Neiman.
We need to create just penalties for the monsters among us that do not make murderers out of all the rest of us.
Because they are murderers.
We are not.
What would happen today if an American president told the Supreme Court, “You’ve made your ruling. Now how are you going to enforce it?”
That’s exactly what President Andrew Jackson did when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee nation and against the president’s plan to seize the Cherokee’s land. Jackson went ahead with his plan. He sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to force the entire Cherokee Nation into stockades. White settlers then raided the Cherokees’ homes, stealing their belongings.
General Scott’s army forced the Cherokees, including elderly people, women and children, to walk nearly 2,000 miles across what was then largely unsettled territory to Oklahoma.
Starvation, dysentery, typhus, whooping cough and other completely preventable horrors killed thousands of Cherokees along the way. Cherokee people have not forgotten or forgiven this violation of their human and civil rights that they call the Trail of Tears. Among other things, they stage a play dramatizing the event in the Ampitheater at Tsa La Gi. The drama is performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of August. For information or reservations, call (918) 456-6007 or (888) 999-6007.
In addition, Oklahoma’s State Senate is currently displaying a painting depicting the Trail of Tears in its conference room. The painting commemorates the 175th anniversary of the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their rightful property, the many deaths and terrible suffering of the Trail of Tears.
Wayne Cooper is the artist who created the painting. It was commissioned by Chief Bill John Baker and supported by Cherokee Nation businesses.
What part does corruption play in Nigeria’s failure to stop Boko Haram?
Women and men from all over Nigeria took to the streets of the Nigerian capitol, Abuja, Wednesday in what was dubbed “The Million Woman March.”
They marched through heavy rain to issue a call for the Nigerian government to do more to free 230 teen-aged girls who were kidnapped in a bloody attack on their high school on April 14. The kidnapping has been labeled the work of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group who has murdered people and burned down churches with what appears to be impunity for many years.
This latest kidnapping of so many young girls has outraged Nigerians and people from locations all over the world. I asked in an earlier post why the Nigerian government seems to be so helpless in the face of attacks from this terrorist group. I also asked — and am asking still — who is funding Boko Haram.
It appears that quite a few Nigerians have the same questions. Protest organizer Hadiza Bala Usman announced the protests will be on-going in both Abuja and Lagos until the girls are freed.
“We will also demand to see the president if we don’t get any commitment from government to rescue these girls,” she said. “The government has to understand that we are not going to allow this silence to continue.”
Meanwhile, the leader of Chibok’s elders forum, Potu Bitrus, says that he has learned that the girls were trafficked into neighboring Cameroon and Chad and sold as brides to insurgents for 2,000 naira ($12.)
I think this march paints a stark picture of a government that is almost certainly too corrupt to govern. The first order of business for any government is to maintain domestic tranquility. A lot of things go into that, but providing for the public safety is the basic component. Citizens must be able to rely without question on their government to swing into action when they are attacked, kidnapped, or otherwise physically harmed in criminal actions.
Can you imagine what would happen if a group started behaving like this here in America? I’m judging almost entirely by Oklahomans, but I rather imagine that this applies to the country as a whole. If our government didn’t take care of them, I think our private citizens would do it themselves.
The government of Nigeria needs to do whatever it takes to end Boko Haram. They specifically need to get these girls back. To say that this is a civil and human rights violation is weak language for it.
Public Catholic reader Ken first brought this story to my attention.
Like everybody my age, I’ve got a lot of past.
Not all of my past is good.
In fact, a portion of it is seriously miserable.
I try to forget.
And forgive myself for the things I’ve done.
I try to forget.
And forgive others for the things that have been done to me.
But there are days when that load of past can get heavy. Especially in church. My miserable past includes a couple of bad times with church. I’ve experienced the rejection of unforgiveness. Even though I forgive as best I can, the memory still comes back from time to time, like an ache in an old break in a bone when the weather changes.
The two greatest challenges this poses are a loss of trust and a deep feeling of unworthiness. The bad opinions of others can imprint on a person and leave their ugly image. Trust, once it’s cut away, doesn’t re-grow. It callouses over, but the nerves are dead.
I have periods of time in my life when the hardest thing I have to do is go to mass. Not because of any latent anger, but because of the deep sense of unworthiness. I have no right to be there in the presence of the Presence, and I know it.
I had an exceptionally rough bout with this recently. I actually left the church during mass, left my husband there, holding the hymnal and looking at me with uncomprehending eyes as I left, driven away by the unworthiness that is branded into me.
I used those moments away to gather myself to myself and then I went back in. But it wasn’t easy. I got through that mass by looking at the tabernacle and talking to Him.
Because it’s true, you know. I have no right to be there, in the presence of the Presence. I am unworthy, as John the Baptist said, to untie His sandal. Yet the reason, the only reason, that I am there is that He invited me.
In the final analysis, the Presence does not belong to any priest, or even to the Church itself. They are its guardians, and the conduit by which God graciously consents to dwell among us in the Eucharist. But the Presence is God Himself, and as such, that Presence belongs to no human being. It is It’s Own Self.
I came to the Catholic Church and asked to come into full communion because Christ in the Eucharist called me to Himself. It was a call that was so clear, persistent and patient, that, in the end, it worked its way past all the obstacles to what was at the time a rather bold step of faith.
Jesus called me to Himself in the Eucharist. That is why I am Catholic.
And on that day when my own unworthiness flared into a blistering flame inside me, when I wanted to run away, to paraphrase St Peter, because I am a sinful woman, He was there, not to call, but to strengthen me past my focus on me and bring me into a fresh focus on Him.
I kept looking at the tabernacle, at Jesus, present in our midst. I don’t know if it was a prayer, or a conversation, or a vow of a sort. I only know I spoke directly to Him and He heard me.
“You are my Lord,” I told Him. “You are the reason I am here. You are the One I trust. You and only You.”
There was more. But that’s the gist of it. Shattered trust is like an amputation. It can’t grow back. We can never undo the things we’ve done or forget the lessons of the things that are done to us. Forgive, yes. But forgetfulness would be to unlearn the life lessons and forego the spiritual depth these things give us.
If you live long enough and do enough hard things, you will lose your trust in people, in fate, in your own good luck. The illusions of personal invincibility die a hard death, but Christ can and will raise up a new trust and a new invincibility from the ashes on that pyre of self-sufficiency.
“You are my Lord,” I told Him, and it was as much vow as prayer; an open acknowledgement of the truth of things, bound up in a promise. “You — and You only — are my Lord.”
“You are the reason I am here.” I said, not because I enjoy the liturgy or find affirmation in the friendships, but “You — and You only — are the reason I am here.”
“You are the One I trust,” because You have proven Yourself trustworthy time and time again, because You loved me first and because You forgave me and walk with me and endure me and keep forgiving me over and over again.
“You and only You,” because people, even the most lovable and precious of people, will let you down. Because, I, you and everyone, will let ourselves down. We will betray one another and we will also betray ourselves. Only Christ will never fail us.
I was not the only wounded person in the church that day. I am never am. We are all wounded, in one way or another. We shatter our self-righteousness by the things we do, and we face the terrible isolation and aloneness of the things that are done to us.
The many cruelties people practice against one another — our gossip and slanders, violence, lies, betrayals and deliberate degradations — are all at base an isolation of the other person, a way of putting them outside while we remain inside.
We draw lines around ourselves and our group, whoever that group may be, and then we push everyone outside that line into a sub-class of one sort or another. This hurts and maims all of us.
So many times on this blog I see angry, harsh comments, coming from people who at base are just trying to express their sense of isolation and rejection. The truth is, no one of us, not a single person of us, has the right to stand before God.
But He is our Lord. And He has invited all of us — ALL of us — to His table. No one of us has a right to be there. But, by the miracle of His love, no one of us is too wounded, too sin-sick, too disreputable, too female, too gay, too poor, too fat, too ugly, stupid or lost to be refused a place at that table. We are all welcome.
He is always with us, even when others fail us or turn us away. He is always ready to accept us and forgive us. We don’t have to stop sinning and get perfect to come to Him. He accepts us just, as the old hymn says, as we are.
We may have to jump through more hoops that we can manage to find surcease and acceptance from other people. But all we ever have to be or will ever have to do with Him is put our hand in His and say “Yes.”
“You are my Lord,” I told him. It is as simple as that.
This statement was issued by my religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, regarding yesterday’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
Archbishop Coakley on execution of Clayton Lockett: “The brutality of the death penalty disregards human dignity”
OKLAHOMA CITY (April 30, 2014) – On April 29, in McAlester, Okla., the planned execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett utilizing a new three-drug lethal injection protocol failed, leaving Lockett evincing unexpected signs of pain and leading Oklahoma prison officials to halt the proceedings. Lockett later died of a heart attack.
Today, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the unprecedented execution underscores the brutality of the death penalty and urged Oklahomans to weigh carefully the demands of justice and mercy.
“How we treat criminals says a lot about us as a society,” the archbishop said. “We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”
“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” he continued.
“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” he added.
“In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in last night’s execution in any way – including Lockett himself, his family, prison officials and others who witnessed the event. My compassion and prayers go out especially to the family of Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett was convicted of killing.”
Oklahoma seems to be having trouble executing people.
First, attorneys for death row inmates got a judge to agree that their clients could not be executed because of an Oklahoma law that grants anonymity to the companies that supply the toxic brew of killer drugs used to kill the prisoners.
Once the state got past that roadblock, it had to call off an execution in progress because the needle in the inmate’s arm was evidently putting the killer drugs into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream.
According to the doctor who was in attendance at the execution, the vein in convicted murderer Clayton Lockett’s arm which was being used to administer the drug “blew.” The first indication that the “drugs were not having an effect” was when the inmate didn’t die. The doctor checked and found that they were going into the surrounding tissues in Lockett’s arm instead of the vein. At that point, officials halted the execution.
Lockett died 43 minutes later of what has been termed “an apparent heart attack.” I’m no doctor, and I’m just guessing, but my guess is that since the drugs went into muscle and fatty tissue instead of the bloodstream, it took those drugs longer to kill Mr Lockett, but that he ultimately died of their effects.
The first drug was supposed to make Mr Lockett unconscious almost immediately. According to witnesses, he was still awake seven minutes after the drugs were administered. Sixteen minutes into the execution, when he should have been long dead, he moved his head and tried to talk. Then, according to his attorney, he began to convulse.
I don’t favor the death penalty. However, I don’t question that Mr Lockett was a cold-blooded murderer. He should have been locked up and forgotten; no parole, no question of parole, no interviews or sad stories about his wasted life.
I think it’s important to remember a gutsy teen-ager named Stephanie Neiman. Mr Lockett was given the death penalty for murdering Miss Neiman.
Mr Lockett and three accomplices kidnapped a 9-month old baby, the baby’s father, and teenager Stephanie Neiman in a home invasion. Miss Neiman was bound and gagged with duct tape. Mr Lockett forced her to watch while his accomplice dug her grave. The first time he tried to shoot her, the gun jammed, so he got a shotgun to use for the execution-style murder.
Witnesses said they heard Miss Neiman, begging for her life. Then, they heard a single shot. After that, they heard Lockett and his accomplices “laughing about how tough Stephanie was.” Then Mr Lockett shot her again.
Mr Lockett then ordered his accomplice to bury Miss Neiman, even though she was still alive.
I’m not going to comment on this beyond sharing the facts. I think the facts speak for themselves.
(CNN) – A vein on an Oklahoma inmate “exploded” in the middle of his execution Tuesday, prompting authorities to abruptly halt the process and call off another execution later in the day as they try to figure out what went wrong.
The inmate, Clayton Lockett, died 43 minutes after the first injection was administered — according to reporter Courtney Francisco ofCNN affiliate KFOR who witnessed the ordeal — of an apparent heart attack, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.
That first drug, midazolam, is supposed to render a person unconscious. Seven minutes later, Lockett was still conscious. About 16 minutes in, after his mouth and then his head moved, he seemingly tried to get up and tried to talk, saying “man” aloud, according to the KFOR account.
Other reporters — including Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa Worldnewspaper — similarly claimed that Lockett was “still alive,” having lifted his head while prison officials lowered the blinds at that time so that onlookers couldn’t see what was going on.
John Paul II, the Polish pope who brought down Communism.
Now, he’s a saint, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t soon become the new patron saint for Poland. I imagine he already is the patron Saint of most polish households.
From what I’ve read, Pope John Paul II retained a deep love and constant connections with his homeland to the day of his death. He had a Polish cook at the Vatican who prepared Polish meals for him, and he had friends from Poland nearby throughout his papacy.
Saint John Paul was so completely a pope for the whole world that we tend to forget that he came from a particular place and time and that this history shaped him in profound ways. The sufferings of Poland taught Saint John Paul about the cruelty and weaknesses of fallen humanity, the dangers of unjust governments and the sanctity of human life.
In this way, the whole world owes Poland a debt. The painful experiences of Poland, as the country was overrun from the West and then the East, were not in vain. They imbued this son of Poland with the great heart of a saint. He became the light of Christ for people everywhere. His teachings will echo down the generations.
It is no wonder that the good people of Poland wanted to do something special for the canonization of Saint John Paul II. I think their idea to run the 1,200 miles from Poland to Rome for the event is especially apt. It is a difficult thing to take on such a long run. It requires unselfish love of others, courage and perseverance in the face of difficulties to endure to the end of the race.
How can anything be more emblematic of Saint John Paul II than that?
From Catholic News Agency:
Vatican City, Apr 27, 2014 / 09:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of Polish friends decided to run the whole way to Rome to be present for the canonizations of Saints John Paul II and John XXIII, explaining that their key motivation was to give “thanks.”
“We don’t have any (official) group. We are friends,” Tomasz Pietnerzak told CNA April 27, explaining that when another friend suggested “why don’t we run to Vatican? I said ok, we run. Let’s go!”
Having run a grand total of about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in order to be present at the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday for the papal canonizations, the group consists of 22 men of varying ages, who collectively ran about 185 miles (300 kilometers) a day.
When asked about the primary motivation driving the initiative, Pietnerzak simply stated that they “Run for thanks,” pointing to the word “Thanks” printed on the back of the matching athletic jerseys they wore.
“We run because we can’t do anything else,” the pilgrim explained, emphasizing their gratitude for John Paul II first of all because he is “from Poland,” but also because “he changed world, and Poland.”
“He’s a good man, good man,” they reflected, “he changed Europe.”
Despite the group’s fondness of the sport, they replied with a firm “No, no!” when asked if they would run on the way back, stating that they would most likely return by car – a “come back car,” they jested.
The Mass for the canonization of now-Saints John Paul II and John XXIII was held April 27 at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where huge numbers of pilgrims gathered, spilling out onto the main road and overflowing into the surrounding squares.