Smart people saying smart things (9.8)

Smart people saying smart things (9.8) September 8, 2014

Dahlia Lithwick, “A Horrifying Miscarriage of Justice in North Carolina”

North Carolina at several points could have tested evidence known about years ago. We now know that three days before McCollum and Brown went to trial in 1984, local police asked the State Bureau of Investigation to examine a fingerprint on a beer can from the crime scene to see if it matched the man now implicated in the murder. The state didn’t bother. In 2006, Brown’s lawyers filed a motion to test the DNA on the cigarette butt. The results excluded both McCollum and Brown. But it wasn’t until several years later, when the state’s innocence commission got involved, that analysts found DNA on the cigarette butt matched up with the man convicted in the same neighborhood of a similar crime. Sharon Stellato of the commission testified on Tuesday that the man told her several times during interviews that McCollum and Brown were innocent.

It never fails to astonish me that the same conservatives who argue that every last aspect of big government is irreparably broken and corrupt inevitably see a capital punishment system that is perfect and just. If you genuinely believe that the state can’t even fix a pothole without self-dealing and corruption, how is it possible to imagine that police departments and prosecutors’ offices are beyond suspicion, even though they are subject to immeasurable political pressure to wrap up cases, even when the evidence is shaky and ill-gotten, and even as there are other avenues that have gone unexplored?

Nancy Wilson, “A letter to Christians about LGBT protections and religious freedom”

But for those who ask, “What does God require?” please read the Book of Acts. Peter was given a vision to accept gentiles who were deemed unfit for the kingdom of God. But, God told him, “Do not call unclean what God has declared clean.” Paul talked to the leaders of Jerusalem to convince them that ministry amongst the gentiles was where God was leading him.

Know that God has a way of taking us places we never thought we would go. Be open, pray, be kind and love God.

Adam Kotsko, “No, political correctness has not gone too far”

As a white man, I must admit that I have felt that tug of resistance upon learning of a previously unknown “politically correct” speech pattern. There is something irritating, after all, about being told that a phrase that I meant completely innocently has been taken as an insult. Over the years, though, I’ve developed a unique strategy for dealing with such feelings: instead of writing a 1000-word blog post vindicating myself against the unjust charges, I simply apologize for causing offense and move on with my life. Indeed, I take the further step of trying to be more aware of similar phrases in that vein.

And I can testify that my ability to express myself elegantly and effectively has not been permanently damaged by the restrictions of not being a total dick to people and not making a point of rubbing their disadvantages in their faces. Language is a robust and supple tool, able to bear up even under the weight of basic human decency.

Greg Boyd, in Repenting of Religion

Religious sin is the most destructive kind of sickness, for it masquerades as it feeds off the illusion of health. Far from being open to a cure, this kind of sickness thrives on the illusion that it is the epitome of health. By its very nature, it resist soft correction. Indeed, because it gets life from the rightness of it’s beliefs and behavior rather than from love, the religious version of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil tends to construe all compassion, accommodation, and unconditional acceptance as compromise. People afflicted with religious sin thus tend to disdain compassionate love, even if it is extended toward them. 

Scott Woods, “Here’s the deal with racism”

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.


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