Clickbait and the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial

Clickbait and the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial February 3, 2015

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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13 responses to “Clickbait and the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial”

  1. Rebecca, the death penalty is a matter of prudential judgment for Catholics according to the Catechism. I don’t think the death penalty is necessary, but I know there are some people who definitely should be executed. If their continued existence on this planet is a danger to the people or the country. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed comes to mind.
    I have heard of criminals who were persistently unrepentant until they knew they were going to die, as well. I think the Church’s guidance of serious threat to the community is a good basis.

  2. It’s worthwhile to point out that if I had a religious or personal objection to people being imprisoned for crimes, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting on any jury. Likewise I would imagine that if one goes to the opposite end and believes that shop lifters should have their hands cut off or something like that, they likely wouldn’t be sitting on any jury during a shop lifting case. You could argue, yes it’s discrimination but it is sort of a necessary one . . . at least until our society collectively decides against the death penalty, you can’t have a juror that is morally opposed to a possible penalty in the case nor can you have one who has some sort of rage toward a particular crime that he advocates for punishments that are unreasonable.

  3. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a captive. He is not going anywhere and holds no further threat to our country. There is no reason why he should be executed except for revenge, which we as Christians are called to forego.

  4. I think I could vote for the death penalty IF the prosecution proved the case against the defendant. i won’t be watching the trial, but will find it interesting if indeed he is proven guilty, to see what the punishment will be.

  5. There have been moves by some groups for his freedom in exchange for present or future hostages. Not revenge. Safety.

  6. It makes me laugh that in this situation, Massachusetts Catholics are too conservative by following what the Church says on the death penalty. Usually I only hear that Massachusetts Catholics are Catholics in Name Only.

    I’m praying that this guy doesn’t get the death penalty. There’s secure places to put him.

  7. The prosecutor is correct to exclude you or anyone, for whatever reason, did not support the death penalty. You don’t have the ability to carry out the law. I think believe he deserves capital punishment. Cold blooded indiscriminant mass murder warrants the death penalty.

  8. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

  9. There are plenty of Catholics here that won’t think twice about giving this terrorist scumbag the death penalty.

  10. I might have agreed with this in the past, but then I read this article a while back:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/11/-sp-isis-the-inside-story

    In essence, ISIS got its roots in a bunch of detainees in an American prison meeting each other and when they got out, starting ISIS together.

    I’m not advocating the death penalty for everyone accused of terrorism, but I can’t say there is never a case in which capital punishment is the only way to keep society safe. A random murderer or rapist off the street does not likely have contacts in the outside world to break him out of prison, nor, if he does escape, is he capable of terrorism on a massive scale.