Thursday, March 8, 2007

Justice For Jessica

A terrible story nears its end:

MIAMI (AP) - A sex offender was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl and burying her alive in a case that led to a crackdown around the country on people convicted of sex crimes.

Jurors deliberated about four hours before returning the verdict against John Evander Couey in the slaying of Jessica Lunsford, who was snatched from her bedroom in 2005 about 150 yards from the trailer where Couey had been living.

Her body was found in a shallow hole, encased in two black plastic trash bags. She had suffocated, and was found clutching a purple stuffed dolphin.

Couey had a record as a sex offender. In 1991, he was arrested on a charge of fondling a child. In 1978, he was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth and kissing her.

This case raises two questions which might be asked of those who oppose the death penalty. First, does John Couey deserve to be executed or doesn't he? Second, if he does deserve it what good is served by not doing it?

By refusing to execute a man such as this for the horrific crime he commited we send the message to society that Jessica Lunsford's life is not worth executing her murderer over. A society which refuses to execute people like Couey sends the message that it just doesn't value innocent life very highly, at least not highly enough to make taking a life punishable by the most severe penalty.

To allow him to live is a bit like assessing a rapist a $50 fine. The penalty sends the message that the crime isn't very serious and that women really aren't worth protecting.

Justice is served by nothing less than the execution of John Couey. It's better than what he deserves.


Who Is John Galt?

Mark Skousen commemorates Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged 50 years later in the Christian Science Monitor. Rand's work is not literature, exactly, but it is, according to a 1991 poll of American readers, the second most influential book ever written. Only the Bible was voted more influential.

I'm not sure about this assessment myself, since back in the late fifties and early sixties everyone was reading Rand, and then shortly thereafter we suffered our national, wrenching lurch to the left which represented in many ways everything Rand deplored.

In any event, Atlas Shrugged is a book of philosophical ideas about morality, economics, and collectivism set as a novel. Her ideas are both good and bad. When they're good they're very good and when they're bad they're very bad. Skousen's essay sorts them out.


If Only Jesus Knew

John Edwards seeks political traction with Christians by invoking Jesus on behalf of the poor, but either he's tone deaf to how evangelicals regard Jesus or he's just not as articulate in talking about Christ as he is when he's appealing to a jury to award a huge settlement to his client and thus to himself:

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be appalled at how the United States has ignored the plight of the suffering, and that he believes children should have private time to pray at school.

Edwards, in an interview with the Web site, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."

"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."

What exactly does Edwards mean when he says that "Jesus would be appalled"? Does he mean that if Jesus only knew about the plight of today's oppressed masses He would be appalled by it? Does he think that Jesus doesn't know about it, but would be outraged if He did? If so, then Edwards has a long theological road to travel before he rests in evangelicalism's good graces. Most Christians believe that Jesus was divine, that He is alive today and quite aware of everything that happens in this world. It's Christologically incongruous, in other words, for Edwards to speak in hypotheticals.

Edwards failure to fire his two potty-mouthed anti-Christian bigot bloggers didn't do much to endear him to Christians, and he certainly won't score any points by using clunky rhetoric that suggests that Jesus is purely past tense or otherwise oblivious to what's going on in the world.

But setting all that to one side, what might appall Jesus even more than the plight of today's poor is the hypocrisy of people who live in opulent extravagance and ostentation while invoking His name to criticize others for their alleged lack of concern for those who live in hovels.


Iranian Defector

Here's an interesting development in the deteriorating state of affairs concerning Iran. An Iranian general with much knowledge of his country's espionage efforts and weapons programs has either defected or been kidnapped:

One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard says Gen. Ali Reza Asgari has defected and is now in a European country with his entire family, where he is cooperating with the U.S.

Other reports have suggested that the general may have been kidnapped by the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. A spokesperson at the CIA declined to comment on the reported defection.

"This is a fatal blow to Iranian intelligence," said the source, explaining that Asgari knows sensitive information about Iran's nuclear and military projects. Iran called tens of its Revolutionary Guard agents working at embassies and cultural centers in Arab and European countries back to Tehran out of fear that Asgari might disclose secret information about their identities, according to the analyst.

In either case, it seems that there will be an intelligence bonanza for the U.S., unless, of course, the guy is a double agent out to plant disinformation.