The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Mining Racism and Murder in a Pennsylvania Coal Town

by Walter Brasch

On a street in Shenandoah, Pa., deep in the heart of the anthracite coal region, six White teens took their racial hatred to a higher level. They confronted 25-year-old Luis Ramirez, an undocumented worker, and beat him to death.

At first the police chief, the mayor, and borough manager refused to believe racism was involved. Although there was already racial and ethnic tension in the 5,000 population town, the town's political leaders were united in one belief--it was just another street fight gone bad. "I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I've never known them to harbor this type of feeling," said the borough manager.

It took police almost two weeks, even with several witnesses, to finally arrest four of the teens. The district attorney charged two of the teens with homicide, aggravated assault, and ethnic intimidation, and two others with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Unindicted co-conspirators are millions of Americans and the far-right mass media.

It's common for people in a nation that is in a Recession to complain. They're frustrated with their lives, with bad working conditions, dead end jobs, and low incomes. They're frustrated by skyrocketing prices, obscene corporate profits, and do-nothing legislators. The problem isn't "us," they believe, but "them." Others. Outsiders who "invaded" America.

A century ago in the coal region, good ole boy Americans complained about the Irish and Poles who took "our" jobs in the mines. For decades, Whites kept Blacks out of almost all but the most menial jobs, and then lynched those who they found to be too "uppity." During the 1920s and 1930s, the masses of Germans, trying to rationalize their own economic distress, decided the problem was the Jews--and  Americans went along with that ethnic racism. We blame Asians. Africans. Muslims. Anyone who's different.

In today's America, it's the "Illegals," the code-name for undocumented Mexicans. Of course, undocumented Swedes or Canadians or anyone with White skin pass under the radar. Anyone with dark skin doesn't.
However, politicians and pundits together yell that "illegal" means just that. "What's not to understand about `illegal'," they screech. They claim they aren't after any one race or people. Just get rid of illegals. You know, the ones who take "our" jobs. Take "our" welfare. Take "our" education. Take "our" health care. For free! And, while they're taking, say the forces of righteousness and purity, these illegals become criminals. Some do. But most don't.

You can't reason with people in their own crises. You can't tell them that our prisons are filled not with undocumented workers but with American citizens. You can't explain that most undocumented workers don't want hand-outs because they don't want to be known to the authorities. Volumes of data won't convince some of the masses that undocumented workers, the illegals, often live in near-poverty and don't get welfare. They don't even go to the ER when necessary, and so their illness or injury "runs its course" while destroying other body systems because these undocumented workers, already exploited by American business, are afraid of being identified and deported.

In our schools, hatred festers and breeds. Jokes about race, ethnicity, religion, women, gays, and anyone not "us" are told and retold by students--and by teachers and principals who should know better.

Two decades ago, the hatreds would have been somewhat isolated, confined to the corner saloon or social club. But now, self-aggrandizing politicians and media talk show hosts and pundits, who erroneously believe they are populists, spew hate-filled torrents of bigotry and fear-mongering.

I don't know if the six teens who murdered Luis Ramirez listen to talk radio, watch Fox News, or read web blogs and anonymous call-ins and letters to the local newspaper. They don't have to. Their community does.

[Walter Brasch is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University, a syndicated columnist, and author of 17 books. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available through amazon.com and other stores.]

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Dangerous Places: Violent Death Rates in Iraq and the U.S.

The Loony Right is excited this evening by the claim by Congressman Steven King, R-IA (no, not that Stephen King) that several U.S. cities are more dangerous than Iraq.

I cannot fathom how King calculated an Iraqi violent death rate of 25.7. I don't have his data, but the median for U.S. states is double that, and we don't even have a war.  More important, one should not compare nations or states to cities, or vice versa.  Nations to states, probably valid.  Nations to cities, not.  All those unmolested people out in the country dilute the bad stuff happening in, say, Baghdad.

Fun fact:  you are immensely more likely to die a violent death in a Red state than you are in a Blue state -- whether by accident, suicide, or homicide.  Go to www.pollkatz.com and click the link in the garish orange box.

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