Posts Tagged “criminals”

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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Crying babyOne of Connecticut’s two most famous convicted massacrers, Steven Hayes, is having a hard time of it lately. Life on death row, it seems, it just too fucking tough on the poor guy. He can’t stand it there. In an effort to protest being on death row for the rest of his life (because, let’s face it, the state of Connecticut is just not going to execute him in spite of his death sentence), he and his attorneys have come up with a novel way to throw a tantrum at the legal system.

They’re using religion, of all things, as their shield. Yes, religion! The New Haven Register reports on their latest laughable court maneuvers (WebCite cached article):

One of the men convicted in the 2007 Cheshire home invasion and triple homicide is suing state Department of Correction officials, claiming his rights are being violated because he isn’t being given a kosher diet in prison.

Steven Hayes, 51, who is on death row at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, filed the hand-written civil rights complaint in U.S. District Court against the Rev. Anthony Bruno, director of religious services; wardens Edward Maldonado and Angel Quiros, and members of the Religious Review Committee.

In his complaint, Hayes describes himself as an orthodox practicing Jew, and claims he has been denied a kosher diet, which he has been requesting since May 2013. The complaint seeks to ensure that all Jewish prisoners have access to kosher food.

“This continuous denial of a kosher diet is a clear violation of my First Amendment right to freely practice my religion of choice, Judaism,” Hayes wrote.

Being the hateful, cold-hearted cynic that I am, I suspect Hayes isn’t sincere about wanting to be an orthodox Jew. You’d be smart, too, not to believe his claim; the guy, after all, is a vicious career sociopath who probably has never told the truth about anything in his life. He also is extremely unhappy about being in prison; since his arrest in July 2007 after massacring the Petit family in Cheshire, CT this monster has pulled a number of stunts, such as faking suicide attempts more than once (cached), and sending suicide notes to the Hartford Courant (cached).

It would seem, then, that this lawsuit over kosher food is just another of his publicity stunts … or rather — and this is much more likely — yet another of his attorneys’ publicity stunts.

However, even in spite of Hayes’s demonstrated track record of ridiculous histrionics and general bitchy drama-queen act, as with all matters religious, it’s impossible to know for certain whether or not his claim of being an orthodox Jew is genuine. As I said, I suspect it’s not, and that it’s just a scheme he and his lawyers cooked up in order to give him more publicity, in an irrational attempt to get more sympathy for himself, because the poor little thing just can’t handle being in prison. It’s not a religion’s credit that it can be used by sociopaths as a means to grandstand. It’s also not the first time one of the Cheshire home-invasion defendants has used religion to defend the indefensible. (Defense attorneys tend to be absurdly shameless — even in cases, such as this one, where the guilt of their clients is not in question and there is absolutely no chance an innocent person was convicted.)*

Ordinarily I’d expect orthodox Jews to wish to disavow this vicious, murderous cretin and remove him from their number … but I suspect they won’t do very much along those lines. They’ll just say he doesn’t represent them, yada yada yada. As though that actually means anything.

I get that Hayes isn’t enjoying his prison life, and his attorneys consider him a saint who was railroaded by the courts, but let’s be honest: Hayes is on death row because he and his friend Josh consciously chose to go there (cached). My suggestion is that neither the courts nor the orthodox Jewish community indulge this savage creature any more; that his lawyers stop pitching fits because (in their minds) the state of Connecticut insolently dared convict their client and sentence him to death; and that Hayes himself finally fucking grow the hell up and accept the punishment he, himself, earned … and stop being such a fucking little crybaby. It shouldn’t be possible to use a truly divinely-crafted religion (which Judaism claims to be) as an attention-getting tool for immature subhuman monsters … but it is. More’s the pity.

Update: The Hartford Courant‘s Jon Lender just shone a brilliant light on how incredibly profitable it can be for attorneys to represent the creatures who inhabit death row (cached). All I can say is, wow! What a racket! I have to wonder how much Hayes’s attorneys earned cooking up this religious rationale for suing the state, and how much they’ll earn pushing it through the court.

Photo credit: Olga / Олга, via Flickr.

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Comments Comments Off on Vicious Murderer Uses Religion To Protest Being On Death Row

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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Pope Benedict XVI has apologised to victims of sex abuse / Telegraph photoAfter dispatching his network of parish priests in Ireland to read his letter to Irish Catholics, which ostensibly acknowledged the misdeeds there (it even referred to them as “criminal”), the very next Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI proceeded to use Bible passages to justify the evil that had been done to children in the R.C. Church’s care. The (UK) Telegraph writes about his latest address (WebCite cached article):

Campaigners had hoped that after his seven page letter on Saturday to Irish victims of child abusing priests in which he said he was “truly sorry” the Pope would use his weekly sermon to apologise in public.

But he failed to do so and instead he asked Roman Catholics around the world to be “indulgent towards sinners and pray to God to ask for forgiveness for our failings.”

He used as an example the Bible parable from John’s Gospel in which Christ asks people about to stone an adulteress: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Honestly, I can’t think of any other way to describe this, than to call it “rubbing salt into Ireland’s wounds”:

The pontiff didn’t mention his letter chastising Ireland’s church hierarchy as he made his weekly appearance Sunday from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. He cited the Gospel passage about Jesus’ inviting those without sin to cast the first stone toward an adulterer.

“While acknowledging her sin, he does not condemn her, but urges her to sin no more,” Pope Benedict said. told English-speaking pilgrims in the square. “Trusting in his great mercy toward us, we humbly beg his forgiveness for our own failings, and we ask for the strength to grow in his holiness.”

The Pope here is actually asking people not to “condemn” the child-rapists, child-beaters, and assorted other criminals who hid behind their vestments, cassocks and habits, and were sheltered for decades by the Catholic hierarchy. How nice of him. Let’s go over the many moral and contextual errors in the Pope’s use and abuse of one of the most famous gospel passages, shall we?

The story of “the woman taken in adultery” is found in the gospel of John, and the original passage is as follows:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:1-11)

Let’s look at this. First, the Pope is comparing the ongoing and often systematic abuse of children, by adults, with a single instance of adultery, which is a consensual act between two adults. How, exactly, is there any equivalence here? If there is one, I can’t see it.

Second, this gospel story implies that the woman was at least remorseful, and it’s possible that she did, in fact, “sin no more” after this episode. The Roman Catholic clergy who abused children in their care, however, have been anything but remorseful, and they abused children for decades, often going on to later victims even after having been caught; and they were consciously protected by an organization that supported them and frequently prevented them from being prosecuted. Here again, an equivalence fails.

Usually it’s the fundamentalist Christians who abuse scripture in order to justify doing the wrong thing … but in this case it’s none other than the head of the Roman Catholic Church who’s doing so. Obviously he has no shame, no remorse, and no understanding of what has been going on in his own Church. But conveniently, he does know just enough to be able to use Jesus’ own putative words to tell people not to “judge” criminality within the Church he ostensibly commands.

Photo credit: Telegraph.

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