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Tag Archive: Justice

Scientists who didn’t predict quake are indicted

Posted: Monday, May 30, 2011 (7:34 pm), by John W Gillis


When I saw this headline, I thought it was a joke – perhaps something from the Onion. Apparently, the story is a few days old, but I just saw it a few minutes ago:

Seven scientists and other experts were indicted on manslaughter charges yesterday for allegedly failing to sufficiently warn residents before a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009.

….

Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella ordered the members of the national government’s Great Risks commission, which evaluates potential for natural disasters, to go on trial in L’Aquila on Sept. 20.

Italian media quoted the judge as saying the defendants “gave inexact, incomplete, and contradictory information’’ about whether smaller tremors felt by L’Aquila residents in the six months before the April 6, 2009, quake should have constituted grounds for a warning.

This is how civilization ends.

The only treasure that the Church really has to offer

Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 (10:19 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Tuesday, January 4th. 2011:

Rev. Thomas G. Guarino, of Seton Hall University, in an article at FirstThings.com entitled The Priesthood and Justice, reflecting on the U.S. bishops’ handling of priests accused of sexual misconduct, in the wake of the dismissal from the priesthood of a 73 year-old monsignor in the Archdiocese of New York at the end of last year:

Various actions taken against accused priests suggest that current policies are straining the theology of the priesthood. This may have the short-term advantage of preventing litigants from storming the Church door. It may keep the media at bay for the moment—a media that, in any case, will always find the Church a stumbling block because of her insistence on the incomparable truth she bears. But such actions are also having the disastrous effect of eroding Catholic doctrine, the only treasure that the Church really has to offer.

This might be an unpopular stance, but it is one that needs to be taken. I know that I was rather stunned when the so called “Dallas Charter” was published in 2002, with the bishops adopting a zero-tolerance policy. I had considered draconian zero-tolerance stands – in general – to be the work of small minds seeking cheap political points in easy answers, and could hardly believe that the USCCB was falling into that trap. I understand its appeal, but as Guarino points out in this short article, it is thoroughly contrary to a Gospel ethic, and I was comforted at the time to know that such intellectual giants of the Catholic world as Richard John Neuhaus and Avery Cardinal Dulles shared the deep unease of this poor sinner.

Nonetheless, the policy has stood for almost a decade, and the treatment of offending priests continues to serve as a lightning rod issue for all kinds of anger – not much of it rational – while the Church finds itself without a teaching voice in the matter on account of its own indulgence in easy answers. It’s as if Docetism, suppressed in so ugly a manner, is finally wreaking its revenge in damaging the Church’s theology of the priesthood.

All the while, the masses fulminate with rage against the Church and those priests caught rightly or wrongly in the crosshairs, every time another old story surfaces. Not all those who fulminate hate the Church, but many of them do, and I am amazed at the consistency with which they demand the dismissal of the accused from the priesthood – “defrocking” seeming to be the almost universal term of choice in the English-speaking world, with its fricative and plosive combination ostensibly serving some cathartic end. Yet, they largely have no clue what any of it means!

Never mind that from a practical perspective, letting obviously sick and unsupervised men loose on society  by washing its hands of them is about the most irresponsible thing the Church can do – the Church is probably the best-equipped institution on the world for finding a safe and constructive place for them to live out their lives. More importantly, a Church that is ready to throw its own to the curb seems to me to have lost, in some important manner, its own sense of its identity as the sacrament of Christ in the world. And then there’s the whole matter of what Holy Orders means in the first place…

What’s the Going Price for the Rule of Law?

Posted: Saturday, February 21, 2009 (1:22 am), by John W Gillis


Bostonians were entertained this past week by a bizarre news story about a prominent, wealthy  – and married – businessman in his sixties out for a “last hurrah” (his words), who had spent a year and a half engaging the services of a young prostitute, and who had then begun paying hush money to the woman when she threatened to go public with the details of their relationship. This charming fellow had had quite enough by the time the woman made her third demand for cash, and so he hired a high-powered lawyer to secure the assistance of the authorities in entrapping the woman in the act of committing blackmail.

The bizarre thing is that the prosecutors appear to have made protecting this criminal businessman their top priority in the case. Firstly, of course, they set up a sting to trap the woman accepting what she thought was another payoff – protecting him financially from continued extortion. Clearly, that’s righteous enough. Having accomplished that, however, their primary concern as the case proceeded appears to have been to guarantee the anonymity of this man who had begun the whole sordid affair.

If this is not a case of bald favoritism toward some well-connected wealthy guy (which would be bad enough), then it is a troubling display of lack of respect for the rule of law at an even more fundamental level. That the guilty businessman wants to keep his identity hidden is no surprise, but that the government would not only accept the validity of his wish, but make it the centerpiece of its concern, is astonishing. The fact that this man is guilty, not only of soliciting a prostitute, but of paying bribes to conceal his crimes, seems to have become lost here.

The prosecutor claimed that protecting the man’s anonymity was important to maintaining an atmosphere that encourages extortion victims to come forward without fear of public humiliation, but why is this guy’s criminal character being glossed over in order to paint him as a victim? That seems grossly simplistic, if not disingenuous. Protecting innocents from the fallout of their victimization is certainly a noble aim, but why are the prosecutors concerned that the potential for public disgrace might discourage criminals from coming forward to report colleagues trying to blackmail them? Why not let them swing in the breeze to choose between coming clean to the law, or digging themselves an ever deeper hole by knuckling under to extortion? How about we instead use the influencing capacity of public disgrace to actually discourage people from committing crimes like soliciting prostitutes (and paying bribes) to begin with?

I think I prefer a society that promotes the living of a virtuous life as the proper means of maintaining a good public reputation, rather than one that offers to secure a good name through the ratting out of one’s criminal co-conspirators before they rat you out. Victim, my foot. I was admittedly not surprised when, by the end of the week, US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf had somehow come to grips with those concerns that troubled me, and had adopted the logic of the government:

"While that businessperson created his own vulnerability, he is nevertheless a victim," said Wolf. He added that the man deserves the protections of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, which says victims have the right to be treated with "fairness and respect for [their dignity] and privacy.”

Created his own vulnerability? That’s a quaint way of putting things.

To his credit, Judge Wolf initially questioned the propriety of the government’s sentencing recommendation, which was essentially time served (the woman, apparently without means to make bail, has been jailed since August). Such skepticism was short-lived, however, and he soon acquiesced, citing the defense counsel’s assertion that the woman had “suffered enough,” having lost both her home, and custody of her daughter, while incarcerated. I have no gripe with a light sentence for this most powerless character in this affair, but I have my doubts that this decision, or any other in this matter, had her good in mind.

The prosecution really made no bones about it: they didn’t want the case to go to trial, because their primary concern was protecting the anonymity of the adulterous old bribe payer. And he got exactly what he wanted: the probation terms include a gag rule on the woman for the extent (three years) of the probation, which prohibits her from naming him. Incredibly, the government cut a deal with her in return for her silence, which is the very arrangement she was guilty of perpetrating. And the silence bought from her, on the other hand, is the public identification of criminal activity, which reason would suggest would be her civic duty to reveal! The State’s interest in this is what, exactly?

The only ray of light in all of this is that the probation period (hence the duration of the gag rule) is only three years, at which point she would seem to be legally free to name names. It’s entirely possible, of course, that she will continue to be surreptitiously rolled by the system, while our well-heeled fornicating philanthropist is out paying off even younger hookers to fill the empty, hidden shadows of his shame-filled life, but she may just have an opportunity to finally return the favor of his favors. Perhaps he’ll approach her and offer to buy her continued silence, and perhaps – instead of taking it – she’ll turn him in. I smell a rat.

Discrimination Could Maybe Use a Little Discrimination

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2008 (1:26 am), by John W Gillis


Is there any end in sight to the inanity of Homosex discrimination claims? I have watched, befuddled, as my society has lurched like a drunken monkey along the road to recognizing the legal validity of the inherently absurd and self-contradictory notion of “gay marriage” (having had a front-row seat for one of the opening acts of the circus here in Massachusetts), and today Reuters is reporting that the online dating service eHarmony.com has been forced, via lawsuit, to offer dating services that meet the particular aims of homosexuals.

According to the article, there have been at least two suits brought against eHarmony by homosexuals claiming to be discriminated against by the company, which apparently matches up clients with other clients of the opposite sex. These claims are strikingly similar to many current arguments claiming that marriage laws, as they have existed for some thousands of years, are discriminatory – and though they are admittedly somewhat less absurd than the marriage law complaints, they are no more credible.

If discrimination claims, in general, have had us on the slippery slope for a while, we now appear to be on the very waterslide itself, heading straight into a cesspool of legal tyranny.

The point, of course, is that the service offered by the company was offered to all comers, without discrimination. Well, that is actually not quite true, as a quick perusal of the website reveals that the company in fact discriminates against people who are “married, separated, or dishonest.” Their stated goal is to help clients find partners for long-term relationships – especially marriage – and candidates who either misrepresent themselves, or who are already legally committed, are not considered appropriate matches for the other clients, so they are refused service. This, I say, is a good thing, and an example of the prudent exercise of discrimination – though I wouldn’t rule out a future lawsuit on behalf of either the married or the confessionally dishonest.

However, homosexuals, it appears, are not denied service via policy or practice, and any homosexuals who wanted to subscribe to the service and use it as provided by eHarmony.com would apparently be free to do so – as long as they were not currently married or separated, and did not misrepresent themselves.

The problem, as we well know, is that the service provided by the business is not the service that the homosexuals want, and they think they have the right, under the banner of “discrimination,” to force the business to provide their desired service – with no respect whatsoever for the rights of the business or the business owners to self determination. Unfortunately – and unbelievably – many dim-witted citizens, including far too many sitting judges, are succumbing to this pretzel logic.

One would think that discrimination, in its pejorative sense (and Lord knows how close we’ve come as a culture to losing the knowledge of its meliorative sense), would be understood as making an unfair differentiation between persons in the provision of or pricing of goods or services – which most clearly is not the case here. Instead, what we have is “discrimination” being used as an ill-defined bludgeon to advance the bald self-interest of the accuser, at the expense of justice. What we have is legal violence.

Does anyone think they have the right to sue McDonalds for discrimination against aficionados of Chinese food for their failure to serve Roast Pork Chow Mein? Do I have the right to sue my local supermarket for discrimination because they’ve stopped selling my favorite brand of Greek salad dressing? Can I sue Dunkin Donuts to bring back coconut-covered chocolate donuts? Can someone righteously accuse their local synagogue of discrimination for refusal to preach from the New Testament? If you’re not doing what I want you to do, you’re discriminating against me…WHAT??? Since when do individuals have the right to impose their personal agendas upon the freedoms of others to engage in the activities of their own choosing?

And why are so many people capitulating to this tyrannical nonsense?