Who Is Innocent?

June 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm 7 comments

Anti-Death Penalty crusader Sister Helen Prejean

Image via Wikipedia

People like Pete DeGraaf anger me, people who are so narrow-minded as to see only their own viewpoint on any given subject and to be wholly convinced that their side is the righteous one. Smart people know that there are two sides to every war. Which side is the “good” one is sometimes a random designation made decades later by history books and determined in large part by military might and strategy.

I like to think that if I were ever pregnant as the result of a rape that I would give birth to that baby. I do think that would be the right thing to do, but to be told that I have no choice in the matter and to have a pregnancy from a rape be equated with the inconvenience of a flat tire or paying for life insurance…just goes to show you that DeGraaf thinks that being raped is one of those inevitabilities of life that a woman should be prepared for. It sickens me that anyone with so little empathy or compassion for women would dare to call himself a representative of Christ. Somewhere in Heaven, God is vomiting right now.

The thing that I find the saddest about people like DeGraaf is that when you ask them why they are so vehemently opposed to choice, they always mention, of course, that abortion is murder. They say that they are opposed to any taking of life that’s not done by God. They believe in the sanctity of life. And you ask them about assisted suicide. The answer they give seems consistent. But ask them about the death penalty or ask them about war…you’ll get a very different answer.

I don’t want to get into the particulars of a debate about war and the ethics of war. I don’t have enough time to address it in this blog post except to say that “this” war (Iraq & Afghanistan) on “terrorism” is not anymore ethical than the one we lost in Vietnam. This is to say…that it isn’t. We have no business being there. And yet a guy like DeGraaf I can say with absolute certainty, supports the “War on Terrorism” and would question my very patriotism for daring to examine America’s real motivations.

I’m also certain that a guy like DeGraaf backs the death penalty. I haven’t spent any time looking at his website or his voting record, and yet I can tell you with absolute certainty, that DeGraaf believes in the death penalty as if there were Bible verses that support it. That’s ‘cause I’m psychic like that…either that or DeGraaf is a walking, breathing, talking caricature of a certain cretin of American zombies who think alike about everything.

Okay. There are Bible verses that seemingly support the death penalty. I’ll give you that. But there are Bible verses that seem to support slavery as well. I’ve got a brain. I can think. And when a man who says abortion is murder and says that he believes in the “sanctity of all life” also supports the death penalty and the War For Our Gas Tanks, then I call Bullshit! I call Hypocrite!

When you get into a debate with one of these people they inevitably mention that it’s a question of innocence. An unborn baby is innocent. A convicted murderer is not. A jihadist is not. But how do we determine innocence? An unborn baby that’s the product of incest ruins the life and future of a 9 year old girl who’s been raped by her father. That’s not the baby’s fault, or is it? If you hurt someone by accident, then have you hurt them less than if you did it by malicious intent?

I’m not trying to call into question the innocence of an unborn baby. Not seriously. But the people who are working to take away a woman’s choice are saying that pregnancies that result from rape or incest are only 10% or less of total unplanned pregnancies. Some estimates claim 1% or less. They want to take away a woman’s right to choose because less than 1% of unplanned pregnancies are the result of rape. What if 1% of people on death row are innocent? How does DeGraaf feel about the death penalty then?

I’ve read recently about some people who are making some headway towards eradicating the death penalty. One of them is Danalynn Recer, a mitigator in Houston, Texas. She was written up in The New Yorker. The work she’s doing involves presenting mitigating circumstances to juries in the penalty phases of capital murder cases. Simply put, she makes the perpetrators seem like human beings. She tells their life stories leading up to their monstrous crimes.

In addition to the work of mitigators, the death penalty has taken some hits recently because of The Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is a non-profit group based out of New York City that has worked with convicted men across the United States to use DNA evidence in order to exonerate innocent men who were wrongfully imprisoned. In many cases it has prevented innocent men from being executed.

I used to be staunchly opposed to the death penalty. I’m a little more open minded recently. You might ask why. And I would say Osama bin Laden. While I absolutely feel that the Christian response at someone’s death is not to take to the streets and rejoice, I realize that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with killing him. One of bin Laden’s sons and some of the more bleeding heart liberal of my countrymen have come forward with questions on why we didn’t take bin Laden into custody and put him on trial.

And I know why…because it’s pointless. He’s the mastermind behind 9/11. He’s taken credit for it. And even if he were to receive a trial…where would it be held? How would he receive a fair trial? Where would we find a “jury of his peers” beyond a terrorist training camp in some rural Pakistani village, and then…would justice prevail?

So, what I will say about the death penalty is this, that like with abortion, I believe that it should be safe, legal and extremely rare. Maybe in the case of the death penalty, I should say humane, legal and extremely rare. Most European nations and developed countries no longer practice the death penalty. These other countries tend to have significantly lower rates of violent crime than the United States does.

And so, I think that we need to realize that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. Maybe something about it satisfies our need for vengeance. An eye for an eye. But what most people don’t realize about that particular Bible quote is that it was not a prescription for violence but rather a limitation that was meant to instill a sense of fairness. You take my eye, I take your eye – not, rather, you take my eye, and I take your eye, your house, and your entire flock of goats. It was a restriction on the inevitable escalation of violence.

Something about our society perpetuates violence. We need to take a good, hard look at just what that is. And maybe, in the meantime, we should limit death penalty cases to extreme cases of genocide, mass murder, war crimes, and treason.

If you’re interested in learning more about the death penalty in the United States, then I recommended the websites I’ve linked to as well as the following movies, books, and television programs:

Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean, as well as the movie of the same name that was based on the book.

I Want to Live – the 1958 tearjerker based on the real-life story of Barbara Graham boasts an over-the-top performance by Susan Hayward. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% Fresh rating.

Death Be Not Proud – This is a 2005 episode of the David E. Kelley produced Boston Legal. In the episode, James Spader’s Alan Shore travels to Texas to try a capital murder case. Kerry Washington guest stars.







Entry filed under: Chrisitanity, Ethics, Faith, Family Planning, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Politics, Prejudice, Sexual Abuse & Assault, Social Commentary, The Holy Bible, Women's Rights. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Be Prepared: Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance EPI: We Can Lick It

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mirco Romanato  |  June 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    If a rape cause a pregnancy, the woman have the duty, IMHO, to abort the child of the rapist. No sons or daughters for rapists.
    I would say, if she keep the child, there is no rape to talk about and no one to send in jail.

    • 2. Princess Celestia  |  June 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      While I understand the sentiment of not wanting rapists to breed, I hardly consider it the child’s fault. My question when it comes to abortion is this: What is truly the difference between killing a child in the womb, or after it’s been born? If this raped woman carried the child, gave birth to it, and then decided to kill it, she would be brought up on murder charges. So where do you draw the distinction between abortion and murder?

      Also, I wholly disagree with your comment that a woman wasn’t raped if she carried the child to term. Keeping the baby does not equal consent. No means no means no, and if she said no and he forced her anyway, then it’s rape, end of story.

      • 3. Mirco Romanato  |  June 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm

        In my opinion, the way you look at the problem can be misleading.

        1) the unborn child is not in the same place of the born one

        2) the woman retain his right to dislodge anyone from inside herself; a rapist, a parasite or a fetus. Her motives are hers only. People could advice, if they want, not prohibit or force or punish. What will happen to the dislodged entity can not limit the woman freedom. You are entitled to judge her for her actions, for sure.

        3) rape is penetration without consent, but consent can be done ex post. It is no more rape if she change her mind and think what happened was not bad.

      • 4. Author  |  June 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm

        Consent ex post? Change her mind and decide what happened not bad? I don’t know if you’re just baiting, like a troll on the internet, or if something’s lost in translation, or if you’re just stupid. But that is the single most stupid comment I’ve ever seen any man make in my life. You obviously have no understanding of this subject.

  • 5. Mirco Romanato  |  June 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    1) I agree that aborting is not a good thing. But I believe there are worse things than aborting. For one thing, forcing women to bear the child cost much more to the society than allowing her to abort it.
    If she abort, for any reason, she is at worst damaging herself only (maybe the father also). But guarantee her freedom is more important for all the society than these limited damages.

    2) Abortion is not killing the infant, per se. As a libertarian, I believe after a woman decide to abort his child, the doctors have the right, if they desire so and have the technical ability, to keep the child alive. Maybe they can sell the child to a couple looking for children to adopt. Who want the child can take it and keep it as his or her child. No one must be forced to take care of the child.

    3) Consent can be given ex-post the fact for many reasons.
    IMHO, if the woman keep the child, she is giving the consent ex-post. Jesus told that, “from the fruits you will know the tree”. If the woman think the fruit is worth to be kept, the tree from where it come must not be so bad.
    It is a question of responsibility.

    4) The fact there is no rape don’t imply he can not be jailed for something other like aggravated battery, attempted murder, abduction. These are unrelated matters.

    • 6. Author  |  June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      A rape is a rape, which is any time a woman is forced to engage in sexual activity against her will. A baby or no baby doesn’t change that. Battery or no, doesn’t change that.

      There are several things you seem to forget. One is that men can be raped as well. True, you’ll never have to worry about pregnancy. However, I feel assured that if you were raped you’d want it counted as a rape.

      Another important thing to keep in mind is that there is no way of transferring an embryo or fetus currently. You either choose to terminate the life or give birth to it. Maybe medical technology will catch up on that one of these days. I hope it does. But I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future. And any child of my rapist’s is also a child of mine. That’s half of my DNA in there, and maybe that means something precious to me, even if it does mean that I’m perpetuating the genes of a rapist.

      Advocating that all pregnancies from rape must be aborted or they are not the result of rape, that’s just plain stupid, Mirco. I’m all for your right to comment. You do so respectfully. But on this you are just nothing but dead wrong.

      I can understand not wanting to allow rapists to procreate and the reasons for feeling that way, probably better than you do, since I’m a woman and have a much greater chance of being the victim of a sexual assault than you will ever have. I wouldn’t wish it upon you. The problem with that line of thinking is that it leads to a very slippery slope. Why not drop an H-bomb on Germany just so they don’t produce another Hitler, as my friend Princess Celestia asked? It’s not the child’s fault that his father is a rapist anymore than it’s my fault that my dad sired me. I wasn’t there when it happened.

    • 7. Princess Celestia  |  June 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      I’d like to respond to this as well.

      1) Allowing a woman to bear the child (it would be forcing to abort, on your standards, since according to you, if she were raped she would HAVE to abort to prove it was rape) does not mean it will be a huge burden to society. There are many people who adopt, and I consider any chance at life better than none at all.

      2) Like Gooseberry said, it is not possible at this time to transfer a fetus, but if the woman waited until birth and put the child up for adoption, the child would have a chance to find a family that loved it. I’m not advocating that they be forced to care for the child, only to allow the child a chance at life. Yes, it would be a horrible inconvience for the mother to have to carry it, and I do hate that they would have to do that, but until medicine catches up, it’s the best way, in my opinion.

      3) No, it can not. And keeping the child due to moral responsibility does not mean the woman consented. The Bible also says ‘thou shalt not kill’, as well. So which verse should we apply here? The truly responsible thing to do, would be to make sure the child was cared for, no matter it’s origins. The baby shouldn’t have to suffer because a man wasn’t able to keep it in his pants.

      4) He better be jailed for battery, and anything else he did to her on TOP of the rape charge. Society cannot let people think it is okay to rape. It’s wrong, it needs to be punished. And punishing the woman by making it sound like she consented to such a horrible act is the worst way to go about it.


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