Cruel and Unusual? The answer is yes… and no.

Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson are serving life in prison for crimes they committed when they were 14. That is where the similarities end, because the two cases are very different. It is immoral to lump the two cases together.

Jackson and two friends decided to rob a video store in 1999. When the other two teens went into the store, Jackson stood outside the door. One of Jackson’s accomplices shot and murdered a store clerk, and the three teens fled. Jackson did not kill anyone, nor was he in the store when the shooting took place. Despite this, he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Is it cruel and unusual for Jackson to spend his entire life behind bars? That is a reasonable question, especially given the nature of his crime and his age at the time. And while I am reluctant to raise this issue because it is so often cynically exploited by hustlers and con men, it is legitimate to ask whether Jackson’s race played a part in his life sentence. He is black. If Jackson was white, would he have gotten a lesser punishment?

While Jackson was a lookout during a robbery, the crime committed by Evan Miller is completely different. Miller and a 16-year-old friend used a baseball bat to brutally beat 52-year-old Cole Cannon during a robbery. To hide the evidence of the beating and robbery, they set his trailer on fire and left him to die – ignoring him as pleaded for help and mercy. It was a cold-blooded act. Miller committed an incredibly brutal and shockingly cruel murder.

The Supreme Court is now considering both cases, and questioning whether is is “cruel and unusual” to send teens to prison for life without the possibility of parole. The cases should not be lumped together because the crimes are radically different. Serving as a lookout for a robbery gone bad is not in the same galaxy as brutally beating a man and leaving him to die in a fire you set, much less the same ballpark.

In Genesis 9:6, God commands that whoever sheds man’s blood is to be executed, because man is made in the image of God. Nonetheless, I can understand why society would spare Miller’s life on compassionate grounds. After all, he was subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of his so-called “father” and his so-called “mother” was a drug addict. He tried to kill himself several times to escape the abuse.

But while compassion and mercy may be appropriate in sparing Miller the death penalty, society also has rights that should be protected. Specifically, innocent people should have the right to live without fear that a depraved murderer is on the loose after being freed by the justice system. Setting Miller free could be a death sentence for an innocent person, and that is not just bad policy – it is evil.

It is intellectually dishonest and borders on racist to lump the cases of Jackson and Miller together, and the Supreme Court should decide whether each man’s punishment is “cruel and unusual” based on the facts of each case, not based on a general principle. The Supreme Court needs to consider the rights of society and the commandment of God to defend the weak and helpless. (Psalm 82:2-4.)

The solution should be fairly obvious. Sending a 14-year-old to prison for life because he served as a lookout during a robbery is cruel and unusual. Jackson’s punishment should be struck down. What Miller did to Cannon was cruel and unusual, but protecting society from Miller is not cruel or unusual.

Doug Wilson on slavery

What are Doug Wilson’s views on slavery? Fast forward to 3:10 for the answer to this question.

In this video, Doug Wilson says “good riddance” to slavery. He criticized the “debt slavery” many find themselves in today. The video was posted on June 24, 2011 – more than nine months before Mike Leonard’s smear piece in the Herald-Times. Furthermore, Wilson says in the very pamphlet that Leonard used as the basis for his hit piece that “none need lament the passing of slavery.”

Wilson was coming to Bloomington – Leonard’s back yard – to speak at Indiana University. Leonard could have contacted Wilson for clarification on his views, regarding something Wilson wrote 16 years ago. That is standard journalistic practice. The fact that Leonard did not contact Wilson for his front page story proves Leonard has absolutely no interest in the truth. Leonard’s only interest was in smearing Wilson.

This is a serious ethical breach and the Herald-Times needs to apologize.

Video games are not to blame for Breivik massacre

Why did Anders Breivik set up a bomb to murder people last summer? Why did he massacre teenagers on an island youth camp? When an atrocity like this happens people naturally search for answers. What could possibly motivate someone to slaughter 14 and 15 year old kids? How could he think that this is a righteous act?

I have the answer everyone is seeking. He did it because he is evil. It really is that simple.

We’re starting to see a familiar scapegoat for the actions of this evil man. He played video games, especially first person shooters. This is silly. Millions upon millions worldwide play video games, and the video game industry brings in more revenue than Hollywood. And yet the vast majority of players are not violent criminals.

Here is an important statistic: As the video game industry boomed in the 1990’s, the crime rate dropped and there have been some who suggested that video games may have contributed to that drop, keeping teens indoors and out of trouble. Of course, there is no way to prove this, just as there is no way to prove video games cause crime. There are a lot of factors in the crime rate that simply cannot be explained by one thing.

Could it be that Breivik was encouraged because he knew that he would not get anything close to a real punishment in Norway’s corrupt “justice” system? If he is deemed sane, he will face 21 years in prison. That’s right. Not only will he not face the death penalty as commanded by God, he will spend a pathetic 21 years in prison and theoretically have decades of life left as a free man. His victims will still be dead, though.

Let’s be brutally honest here. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness. When you cannot get justice from those entrusted by God to bear the sword in defense of the innocent, where will you turn? One likely outcome is rebellion against that authority through vigilantism. Breivik could well be assassinated when he is released from prison. This is sin, too, but Norway’s corrupt “justice” system is as much to blame as Breivik’s eventual assassin.

Disagreement is not hate.

There was a great observation on the NBA Today podcast a couple weeks ago: “If you say something that’s negative, then you’re a hater, and as I’ve said many times people that use the term hater are people that are, it’s just childish. And they’re unable to, they’re unable to stomach criticism.” (sic)

While the context of this quote is opinions expressed by sports analysts, it has implications for our political discourse as well. If you oppose taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, it is because you “hate women.” If you disagree with government recognizing same-sex marriage, it is because you “hate homosexuals.” If you are troubled by violations of civil liberties by law enforcement, you “hate police.” This goes on and on, forever.

It’s silly, it’s childish, and it’s a cop-out. Instead of honestly addressing the arguments presented, people who cry “hate” make an ad hominem argument to force their opponent to defend himself personally. If you can make a discussion personal, you do not have to deal with the logical arguments presented.

Disagreement is not the same as hate. Those who reduce disagreement to “hate” demonstrate their lack of ability to form a coherent logical response to an argument they dislike. They also water down the meaning of the word “hate” to the point that it is meaningless and ineffective. If all disagreement is hate, then what do we call real hatred – which is a sin that Jesus Christ said is no different than murder?

Barack Obama ate a dog. So what?

Republicans think they have found a new issue that they can use to attack Obama. In his first book, Obama admitted eating dog.

Really? Is this our big line of attack in 2012? This is the issue we’re pushing instead of Obama’s reckless and destructive deficit spending, his overbearing and unaffordable health care “reform” law, his opposition to a much-needed oil pipeline in a time of skyrocketing gas prices, his “green energy” debacle, his abandonment of the Defense of Marriage Act, his pro-abortion extremism and an economy that remains terrible?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a dog owner and I adore my pets. I could not imagine eating meat from a dog. But that is a product of the culture in which I grew up, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with it. For those trying to make a big issue out of it, please answer the following question: What makes a dog more intrinsically special than the animals I have personally eaten: Bison, cows, elk, pigs, rabbits, deer, goats, snails, or chickens? It is a different culture, that is all.

I wish Christians would think Biblically before they jump on board with silly political gotcha games like this, because there is a Scriptural principle at stake here. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:1-4 that those commanding to abstain from meats are preaching a doctrine of devils and speaking in lies and hypocrisy. The Apostle Paul and goes on to explain that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” When we claim there is something morally deficient with Obama’s diet when he was in Indonesia, we are in rebellion against God.

My other problem with it is the subtle cultural bigotry present in this silly campaign. They eat dog in another culture, so they must be backward or they are barbarians. Too bad they are not as good as us, right? But there are other cultures that would be horrified at the lavish treatment our dogs get in America.

Folks, Barack Obama might be the worst President in American history. We need to get rid of him this November. This campaign is too serious and the real issues we face are too important to be spending our time attacking Obama over such inane non-issues. We need to treat the 2012 election with the seriousness it deserves.

The rich already pay their "fair share" in taxes

Barack Obama is making tax “fairness” a centerpiece of his campaign and he is trying to exploit Mitt Romney’s personal wealth to drive up resentment for the rich. But Obama’s whining about the “Buffett Rule” ignores some very important facts. Let’s take a trip to Literalville, courtesy of this helpful chart from the National Taxpayers Union:

  • The top 1% paid 36.73% of federal income taxes in 2009
  • The top 5% paid 58.66% of federal income taxes in 2009
  • The top 10% paid 70.47% of federal income taxes in 2009
  • The top 25% paid 87.30% of federal income taxes in 2009

This is a phony issue, folks. If you listen to Obama, you would think that we do not have a graduated income tax, and that we instead have a regressive income tax. This is pure class envy based on a few limited cases. Obama even admitted this will do virtually nothing to close his extravagant budget deficits. Obama says it is about “fairness.”

This is not to say that there are not reforms to be made to the tax system. One of the big problems with the tax code is that it is so big and complicated that it is a cesspool of special-interest favoritism, and it provides a never-ending temptation for Congress to fiddle with it to various political ends. A flat tax would eliminate all of that.

But while I would prefer a completely flat tax, that is not realistic right now. Supporters of the flat tax need to be laying the philosophical groundwork now in hopes of reaching the goal in the future. It should be possible, though, to get bipartisan agreement for making the tax rates a little flatter (and lower) in exchange for eliminating deductions and simplifying the tax code to remove some of the special-interest favoritism.

Romney should engage Obama on this issue, especially on the meaningless “Buffett Rule” gimmick.

Richard Lugar is in trouble

Here is a great post on Hoosier Access:

A new poll, done by McLaughlin & Associates, shows an exciting new turn for the Indiana Senate race between moderate incumbent Dick Lugar and conservative challenger, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock is now beating Lugar among the lot of primary voters.

Reports show that in response to this lead, Dick Lugar is now soliciting votes from Democrats from across the state. The Mourdock campaign is now highlighting these reports from Roll Call, as well as Legislative Insight (a publication covering Indiana’s political and governmental landscape) (see here and here).

May 8 is going to be very interesting. I think Lugar is done.

Ten years ago today

From the Herald-Times, describing the reaction to the city’s decision to cut down 66 trees at Miller-Showers Park on Earth Day 2002:

One surprised person cried at the sight of the removed trees. Another observer called the city’s parks and recreation staff to inform them each tree killed had its own personality. Yet another person spent her day Tuesday angrily questioning city officials about their process for public input on tree removal.

Others complained about the trees being removed on Earth Day. This happened accidentally because a city contractor moved up its schedule for tree removal by a day, after the contractor had originally planned the work for Tuesday.

I wonder if the scene looked something like this:

“Each tree killed had its own personality.” LOL!

The Herald-Times should apologize to Doug Wilson

Published in the Herald-Times, April 21, 2012. (Comments)

To the editor:

When the Herald-Times published a shamefully dishonest hit piece on Pastor Doug Wilson, Mike Leonard transcribed an attack from the Southern Poverty Law Center, taking quotes from Wilson’s book out of context. Let’s examine some other quotes from Wilson’s book:

  • “One cannot defend the abuse some slaves had to endure. None can excuse the immorality some masters and overseers indulged in with some slave women.”
  • “We have no interest in defending the racism (in both the North and the South) which was often seen as the basic justification for the system, and we do in fact condemn it most heartily.”
  • “All forms of race hatred or racial vainglory are forms of rebellion against God.”

In the comments for Leonard’s article, I said he “should not have been permitted to write this article. He has a long history of very loud opinions on social issues and hostility to conservative Christians. “

Wilson confirmed on Twitter at 12:20 AM on April 7 that Leonard didn’t bother contacting him for this front-page story. This is because Leonard had absolutely no interest in the truth. His only interest was in smearing a conservative Christian.

The Herald-Times owes Doug Wilson an apology!