Archive for January, 2008

My Most Pointless Post

January 17, 2008

The boyfriend bought me the Signet Classic’s collection of Thomas Paine’s most influential works. I must now say that he has joined Ben Franklin and G-Wash (George Washington, for those who didn’t grasp that) as one of my all-time heroes.

I am so absolutely in love with the extraordinary beauty of “average” citizens doing absolutely wonderful things. Maybe I’ve bought into the whole American Dream thing a bit too much, but I can’t help it. Franklin was the fifteenth of seventeen children; his dad was a soap-boiler for crying out loud… now he’s the face on the $100 bill?!
Paine was just an average citizens yet he remains one of the most important pieces of the American Revolution. He was just a regular guy, but I am enveloped by the power of his language. His ability to articulate ideas eloquently, yet simply is amazing, and his insight is so advanced and wise.

I really don’t know why I am posting this. I suppose I just wanted to get these ideas out there. This really wasn’t political/social commentary, but it WAS an opinion… so I guess I haven’t strayed too far from my overall theme.

Anyway, here are some quotes that I’ve found particularly moving thus far:

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good”

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

“I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.”

“He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
^^That’s for President Bush.

I wish I could write like this some day…

Leathal Injection: Is it too cruel and unusual?

January 7, 2008

A wonderful article in the Washington Post caught my attention today: The Supreme Court is currently torn over whether lethal injections are a painful capital punishment procedure, thus violating the Constitution’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

This brings up a couple issues for me. In my Constitutional Law class we discussed whether the Supreme Court should be involved in questions of degree. As my professor was a very conservative man, he of course said no. Taking a step back and analyzing the question myself, I’d have to agree. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution and then determine whether a specific law is clearly and directly in opposition to it (check out Marbury v. Madison for Chief Justice Marshall’s eloquent opinion of what exactly judicial review is).

If my opinion is correct, what place to judges have in analyzing whether something is “too costly” or “too painful” or “too burdensome”? In order for the Supreme Court to determine whether lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment, scientific review and evidence would have to be presented to the Court so that the Justices could come to a decisions. Justices are in no way qualified to make a ruling on such matters; it is not in their expertise, nor was it ever meant to be. They are not doctors; they are judges.

As Justice Scalia so tenderly put it, “this is an execution, not surgery.” (High Court Divided Over Lethal Injection, Washington Post)

However, I must disagree with Justice Scalia’s opposition to a painless death for those convicted of murder and even the death penalty itself.

In 2006, the only known countries to utilize the death penalty were Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, and Yemen (Amnesty International), and 91% of those executions took place in SIX countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States.

As a country that fosters democracy and has spent excessive amounts of money and man power on “saving” the barbaric government of underdeveloped countries, it is quite ironic (and rather hypocritical) that we find ourselves grouped with these very same countries for such an issue. This is a really well done diagram I got off Wikipedia as far as the distribution of the death penalty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Death_Penalty_World_Map.png

I just can’t see how murdering someone who murdered someone else somehow magically sets the world right again. Perhaps if I was the mother of a child who was raped and violently murdered, I would change my mind. However, at this point in my life, I cannot see the logic, and I know that I could not live with myself if I were responsible for the intentional murder of another human being. Yes, that person should be in prison for the rest of his or her life, but who are we to decide that that person’s life is no longer of value? And can you imagine the pain that is put on that person’s loved ones when they find out that their son, daughter, spouse, friend, etc. is to be put to death? Why must we punish more innocent lives? Why must we cause more people to suffer? What good does this do? What justice does this bring to the world?

Christians that promote the death penalty drive me the most insane. One of those messages that Jesus was always rambling about was letting God be the judge… i.e. How can you point out the splinter in your brothers eye when you do not see the low in your own? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.

In conclusion… if we want to get rid of the death penalty, or perhaps just rectify any flaws with lethal injection, it is up to the people to bring their opinions to their representatives. We can’t depend on the Supreme Court to do all of this work for us.

Before you diss Islam, know your Christianity first… And quit generalizing, too.

January 1, 2008

While chatting with a friend the other day about religion, he cited this passage from the Quran: “Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate” (Quran 9:73) “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil: so fight ye against the friends of Satan” (Quran 4:76), and of course, he referenced suicide bombings.

 

 

The direct correlation between Islam and September 11, the assertions that all Muslims are America-haters and Christian-killers, that the religion teaches them to either convert non-believers or exterminate them… all of this I’ve heard time and time again, and all of it I roll my eyes at. The overt hypocrisy, the vast generalizations, and the sheer idiocy of these remarks are so easy to see, yet even easier to overlook.

 

 

The Christian Bible’s Old Testament repeatedly calls on those of faith to either convert or kill non-believers. For example, Deuteronomy 17 states, “17:2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”

 

Why can we point out passages in the Quran that call for extermination of infidels while we continue to ignore the very passages in the CHRISTIAN BIBLE that promote the exact same actions? What makes our “peaceful” Christian religion justified in its writings urging murder yet labels Islam a violent faith?

 

After reaching this point in the argument, I am usually reminded of the events of September 11; I’m told that terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in the name of their faith, and thus, any faith that promotes such a thing must surely be a hostile one. I’d like to direct anyone who chooses to utilize this argument back to the actions of our peaceful Christian brothers and sisters. Think of the Christians who have blown up abortion clinics or attacked doctors and nurses who work there in the name of Christianity. Is this not a similar concept? European countries in the 16 and 1700s colonized and enslaved the people of Africa and Asia in the name of Christianity, in the name of saving the savage people from their filthy sin filled lives. Their land and resources were exploited and their human dignity ravaged all disguised under a veil of Christianity’s greater good, of a mission to bring the Christian faith to those who were too stupid and too uncivilized to know it.

 

But no, it is the Muslims who are violent.

 

The men who bombed the World Trade Center were not Muslims at all. The faith strictly forbids alcohol consumption, loose sexual values, and gambling, yet the terrorists of 911 drank heavily, utilized the service of prostitutes, and visited casinos all the night before their act of terrorism was to be executed. Wouldn’t it seem that men who are thought to be killing American lives all in the name of Islam would be interested in rigidly following the basic rules of their faith?

 

“Oh yes, well the Quran states that those who die for their faith will be rewarded greatly in heaven.” I would like to guide you toward Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for a response to this argument. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake/ Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12). We honor martyrs and pray to saints, many of whom have died in the name of their Christian faith. We immortalize those who have died for the sake of Christianity… Sound familiar?

 

Of course, at this point I must add a disclaimer, although I know that there will still be someone who chooses to point this out: I am in no way saying that Islam is never used by evil people as a shield for evil deeds. However, we have to remember to separate the religion from the people. By this I mean, while the faith itself may say one this, someone else may interpret it to mean something else, something violent and hostile, and may act on it. This does not mean that that is what all Muslims believe!

 

Again, to Christianity… Some Christians believe that only through baptism can one be saved. Even if one has never heard of Jesus Christ, because that person has not been baptized and does not accept Christ as his or her savior (again, not by choice but because the belief in Christ has never been made known to that person), that person will go to hell. Not all Christians believe this. Not all Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin; not all Christians believe that the death penalty is bad; not all Christians believe evolution is real; not all Christians choose to wait to have sex until after marriage. This means that Christianity, like Islam, is not a uniform belief. Some people believe and do one thing while some people believe and do another. It is not just to generalize a whole people, an ENTIRE FAITH on the actions of the few or with regards to the events that we see on the news. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.

 

I really am becoming more and more disgusted with the hatred and bigotry toward Islam. Yes, there are bad Muslims out there, and Christians and Jews, and Hindus and atheists. We have to stop judging and entire faith on our shallow predispositions and skin-deep generalizations. We have to let go of our contempt and judgmental attitudes and stop being so childish and inane.

 

More senseless idealism and bleeding-heart liberalism from an untainted nineteen year old youth.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
MLK Jr.

 

Perhaps it’s not too late…