Posts Tagged “criminal”

crybaby bill-o / Steven Perez, via FlickrJust a couple days ago I blogged about the Christianist phenomenon of “disaster theology” wherein terrible events are blamed on sinfulness, gay marriage, abortion, fornication, etc. in an effort to keep “the faithful” perpetually angry about — well, about whatever-it-is the faithful are supposed to stay worked up about. The WDBJ shooting near Moneta, VA yesterday morning (cached) provides yet another sterling example of “disaster theology.” As Mediaite reports, this one came from the sanctimonious mouth of the sanctimonious Bill O’Reilly (cached):

Bill O’Reilly tonight connected the WDBJ shooting to America “turning away from spiritualism” and saying that nearly every killer he’s ever reported on has believed in nothing.

O’Reilly cited “rise in nihilism and a decline in spiritual belief,” as well as the declining number of Americans identifying as Christians and the increasing number of Americans identifying as religiously innovated, to connect this to what influences killers with “few restraints in their lives.”

O’Reilly went on to make a crazed generalization:

[His guest, psychotherapist Karen Ruskin] insisted that mental illness doesn’t discriminate whether you’re a believer or non-believer, but O’Reilly insisted, “Every single murderer over 40 years that I have covered in these circumstances has been either atheistic, agnostic, no religious basis at all.”

He again asked, “Can you point to one person who committed mass murder recently that had a religious background? You cannot.”

The Mediaite story doesn’t say whether or not Ruskin had any response to that. But I can easily point out murderers … mass murderers, even … who were most assuredly religious:

Oh, and in addition to all of the above … there’s the fact that most people in American prisons aren’t non-religious, which O’Reilly contends. Quite the opposite: It turns out, rather, they’re mostly all Christian (cached).

O’Reilly also whined about people “practicing” nihilism. I have no idea what he could have meant by that. This statement is a non sequitur since nihilism isn’t something a person can “practice.”

He did concede that “jihadism” could be a form of religious violence, but he sectioned it off as its own thing, as though it weren’t relevant to what he was saying. Really, though, it’s indeed quite relevant, if inconvenient for Billy and his Christianism. Jihadism is a fanatical and violent form religionism, an Islamic version of the exact same impulse followed by all the anti-abortion murderers I listed above.

Billy’s claim that all murderers are non-religious is just plain fucking untrue … and Billy himself can’t possibly be so ignorant or stupid as to think it is. He just said it because he knows his audience will lap it up — because they’re all both ignorant and stupid. So that lie puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’ll find a lot of his friends.

One last thing: When Billy talked up the virtues and importance of “spiritualism,” I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant “spirituality.” “Spiritualism” is something else, and I don’t think it’s something a devout Catholic — which Billy supposedly is — would really care much for.

Photo credit: Steven Perez, via Flickr.

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Jesus before Pontius PilateI’ve already noted the tendency of people to use religious principles to defend the indefensible. For a number of reasons, it often happens to be Christianity which is used in this way. Lawyers representing now-convicted massacrer Joshua Komisarjevsky, for example, attempted to cast their client as a saint rather than a sadistic rapist and murderer, and used quotations from the gospels to suggest that no one on the planet has any right to judge him for what he did. (Fortunately, neither the judge in that case nor the jury bought into the defense’s sickening notion; their client was convicted and sentenced to death for his crimes.)

Well, another high-profile criminal case has elicited a similar reaction. Yahoo Sports reports on the infamous — and currently on-trial — Jerry Sandusky’s supporters (WebCite cached article):

Joyce Porter sits in a booth at the old downtown Diamond Deli, across the street from the Centre County Courthouse where her friend Jerry Sandusky is being tried on 52 counts of sexually molesting children. …

“When everyone was persecuting Jesus, someone had to stand with him,” Porter said.

It’s worth noting that Porter didn’t say Jerry Sandusky was Jesus, just that in her view the situation has similarities.

I’m not quite sure how any rational person could see any significant “similarities” between Jesus and Sandusky, beyond the fact that they’ve both been tried in court. One of the chief differences between them is that Jesus … according to the gospels and Christian tradition … was supposedly innocent of the charges that had been leveled against him. On the other hand, Sandusky’s own attorney has admitted he showered with young boys, which is such a stunningly inappropriate habit that — no matter the outcome of this trial — one can hardly call Sandusky completely “innocent.”

The Yahoo Sports article explains more of the rationalizing, compartmentalizing, and excusing that Porter engages in. I’ll allow it to speak for itself. It’s sickening to read, but it does illustrate how well human beings can deceive themselves, if they’re sufficiently motivated to do so.

As with my earlier example of this phenomenon, I don’t for one moment think most Christians would agree with Ms Porter about Sandusky being a close analogue of Jesus. That said, it’s clear that the principles of Christianity can very easily be twisted in ways most people wouldn’t recognize. It’s hardly to Chrisitanity’s credit that it can be used in such a way.

Photo credit: Nick in exsilio, via Flickr.

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Mea She'arim, JerusalemUltra-orthodox Jewish men in Israel apparently decided they’ve had enough of those insolent, “uppity” females who don’t believe as they do and whom they think can never be seen in public. They’re no longer resorting to bullying schoolgirls; instead, a bunch of them ganged up on and viciously attacked a lone woman in Beit Shemesh, as the Jerusalem Post reports (WebCite cached article):

Beit Shemesh resident Natalie Mashiach, 27, was hanging up flyers for the national lottery in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet on Tuesday afternoon, when she was approached by haredi man who she said cursed her and spat in her face.

According to Mashiach, she retreated to her car, when dozens of men started pelting her vehicle with stones, punctured her tires, poured bleach on her inside the car and stole her car keys. She then fled to a nearby building chased by the mob, before the police arrived and dispersed them.

Mashiach sustained a light injury from a rock which was thrown at her head during the incident.

How manly of these guys to attack one woman. What an accomplishment! Why, they must be so proud of themselves for having taken on such a mighty foe!

Fucking cowards … !

Photo credit: Alexbip.

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Three ghostsIt seems criminals are increasingly using appeals to the supernatural when caught doing things they shouldn’t have. Once upon a time, this sort of thing was unusual. In the ’80s a fellow here in Connecticut tried to plead not guilty to a murder “by reason of demonic possession.” Fortunately that plea didn’t fly, and he was convicted. But there seems to be a rash of this sort thing, lately. In 2010 another Connecticut fellow claimed ghosts had driven him to murder his girlfriend. That particular dodge worked, he was found not guilty by reason of mental defect (WebCite cached version).

Sadly, it looks as though this phenomenon is seeping out of the Nutmeg State. The Smoking Gun reports on a Wisconsin man who blamed ghosts for injuries to his wife (cached):

A Wisconsin man charged with domestic abuse told cops that a “ghost” was actually responsible for injuries suffered by his wife, according to police. …

During police questioning, [Michael] West claimed his wife sustained her injuries to her face and neck during several falls. When pressed by a cop–who pointed to marks on the woman’s neck–the intoxicated West shifted his story. “A ghost did it,” he said.

Cops arrested him — instead of the “ghosts” — for the beating, fortunately. I hope the Wisconsin courts won’t be duped by this maneuver.

Hat tip: Rogues Gallery.

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Satan, as drawn by Gustave Doré, in John Milton's Paradise LostI’ve already blogged about appeals to religion that lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky — recently convicted for his role in the Cheshire home invasion massacre — used in a (futile) effort to excuse their client. Now that they’re dealing with a death-penalty hearing, they’re pulling out all the stops. The Torrington (CT) Register-Citizen reports that they put his mother on the stand to spew their own ridiculous variation on the old “the Devil made me do it” protest (WebCite cached article):

Komisarjevsky, in his usual black suit, stared down at the defense team’s table in front of him as his mother [Jude Komisarjevsky] described how the once-obedient boy was transformed into a rebel lured by a “satanic cult.” …

By the time he was 12 or 13, he had begun listening to rock music rather than the Christian tunes they had always played in the home. She said the lyrics “encouraged rebellion, anger and misuse of other people.”

And at about the same time, she recalled, he started climbing out his bedroom window at night to hang out with local youths who were “mixed-up” and had embraced “satanic” values.

“After that, there was a lot of change in him,” she said. “A lot of anger. He seemed to have a poor self-image. He was easily manipulated and controlled by others.”

Those of you not living in Connecticut are likely unaware of this case, but we Nutmeggers know that his adoptive parents are fundamentalist Christians who were disturbed at “secular society’s” evil influences on their boy as he grew up, and took measures to indoctrinate him more thoroughly in their faith:

During her second day of testimony in the penalty phase of Joshua Komisarjevsky’s trial for the Cheshire triple homicide, his mother described years of home schooling done in an effort to instill Christian values in him.

Despite their efforts, Joshua Komisarjevsky was already a career criminal by his mid-teens. By pointing this out, I’m not saying his parents’ rigorous upbringing and fierce religiosity made him a murderer. No way. But, I do note that their beliefs weren’t enough to keep him from developing into a persistent felon. Simply put, it didn’t work.

In any event, I expect his attorneys will continue to present the jury with a parade of excuses for his behavior. “Satanic influences” — if there were any (no evidence has yet been offered that he was actually a Satanist or anything of the sort) — are but one of many more to come.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Get Out of Jail FreeDeep in the heart of the Bobble Bay-elt (also known as “the Bible Belt”), in the town of Bay Minette, Alabama, the local sheriff has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance and incentivize crime by churchgoers. The Mobile Press-Register reports that people convicted of non-violent crimes can go to church instead of to jail (WebCite cached article):

A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday. …

But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called “Restore Our Community” says no one is being forced to participate.

Forced? No. But what it means is that any regular churchgoers effectively won’t be punished at all. It’s also inherently selective, since those who don’t belong to a church cannot choose to participate in this program. This policy’s proponent explains his motivation:

“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said.

Of course the local preachermen like this idea, it will get more people through their doors and more collections in their plates! They stand to profit from this. The religiofascist continues idiotically:

“It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

Ah. I see. So there was no crime, way back when everyone was a devout, dutiful, church-going Christian. Is that it? Christians don’t commit crimes. Is that it?

Do you truly expect that we’re stupid enough to believe this, Chief Rowland? Especially since it’s demonstrably untrue that being Christian means one never commits crimes? Lots of Christians — including some who are famous because they’re Christian — are indeed criminals. I need only mention names such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard … just to name a few … in order to show this is the case.

Religiofascists like Chief Rowland love to assert that churchgoing Christians don’t commit crimes, but they absolutely do. Crimes like embezzlement, fraud, buying the services of prostitutes, taking illegal drugs, and much more. The truth is that America’s prisons contain many, many Christians. It’s absurd and laughable that anyone could say otherwise … yet Chief Rowland does. And he means it.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: swanksalot.

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GuercinoAdultress1621DulwichI’ve already blogged about politicians — either convicted of crimes or being tried for crimes — using religious appeals in order to make themselves seem like great guys who didn’t really do anything wrong. It’s not to its credit that a religion can be used this way … but as I’ve noted, it does work, because religious people really do fall for it, all the time.

The latest example of this, though, is one that I assume religious people will have a harder time swallowing. Actually, it would be pretty laughable, if not for the nature of the case in question, which is the worst crime in recent Connecticut history, the Cheshire home invasion massacre. The second of two suspects will soon go on trial, so his attorneys have dutifully gone on the offensive, as reported by the venerable Hartford Courant (WebCite cached article):

Joshua Komisarjevsky, accused of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion killings, wants to respond to comments made by the lone survivor of the attack, Dr. William Petit Jr., and members of his family.

In a motion filed Friday and unsealed Monday morning, Komisarjevsky says that comments made by Petit and other family members calling him “evil” and an “animal” are part of “an ongoing public relations campaign” that could affect whether Komisarjevsky receives a fair trial. …

In the latest motion, the defense states that the “families’ characterization” of Komisarjevsky as an animal and evil murderer was inaccurate. And Komisarjevsky — in his own statement — wants the chance to respond. …

Komisarjevsky “is, among many things, a damaged human being, who, like any of us, deserves not be judged solely by the worst of his acts — no matter how difficult or abhorrent those acts may be reported or perceived.”

The motion continues: “It speaks to the value of Josh’s life and to his fundamental humanity that he continues to enjoy the love and support of his family and many in the community. These people know Josh not only for what occurred and is alleged to have occurred on July 23, 2007 but also for his positive, redeeming attributes, which exist despite mental disorder and the harm done by years of trauma and abuse.”

So you see, if Komisarjevsky’s attorneys are to be believed, their client is a righteous, upstanding choir-boy who merely happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So far, no religion … but having attempted to make their butcher/rapist client appear saintly, the defense attorneys continue:

Komisarjevsky’s attorneys quote Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi in the motion, noting that Petit and his family members also have quoted these “apostles of peace, non-violence and love, as well as vocal death penalty opponents.” Petit supports the death penalty.

And then — if you can believe it — the crowning touch:

At one point, the motion also quotes the Bible, citing the well-known passage, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.”

That’s right folks. According to these defense attorneys and the Bible (i.e. in the story of the woman taken in adultery) we are not allowed to judge Komisarjevsky!

I understand that this is a case of defense attorneys — who live in a strange alternate universe of their own in which crimes never occur and no one should ever be convicted of anything — just trying to defend the indefensible. But as I said before, it’s not to the credit of Christianity that it can be used to rationalize away letting criminals off the hook.

Note too the inconsistency of the attorneys’ argument here. Up to this point, they’d been saying only that they don’t want the death penalty imposed on their client. But that isn’t the message of the Pericope Adulterae; it is, rather, that no sentence can ever be imposed on anyone, for any reason, because there is no “perfect,” sinless human being to convict him/her. In their grandiose effort to rationalize saving their client’s life, these attorneys actually argued that Komisarjevsky and every other person now in prison, must be set free! They are, in short, arguing a completely different point from what they originally set out to support.

Frankly I’m amazed these attorneys didn’t trot out Matthew 7:1 and demand, on that basis, that the judge should resign from his job immediately. They really don’t appear to have much shame, do they?

I will end this post by appealing to you to do make a donation to the Petit Family Foundation in memory of those killed in this crime and as a way of saying to Komisarjevsky and his attorneys that you do not support their claims that “Josh” has any virtue and that no one is permitted to judge anyone at all, ever.

One last question for you Christians out there: If you refuse to accept this crap from Komisarjevsky and his attorneys — and I assume you don’t — why on earth would you be stupid enough to accept it from people like John Rowland, or Ted Haggard, or George Rekers, or any of the rest of the hypocritical, reprehensible creatures that you welcome back with open arms? How are you not being hypocritical, yourselves, for having this double standard?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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