Thursday, May 04, 2006

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be the New York Press

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

Luke 6:37

Zacarias Moussaoui…deserves an eternity in flames.

New York Daily News


When the Bible tells us not to judge others, it is speaking in spiritual terms. God does not forbid us from acts of justice, such as determining who is responsible for a crime and separating that person from our society in order to protect ourselves. “Judge not” does not mean we can’t say someone is “guilty.” It means we are not in a position to speak on behalf of God in terms of who is saved, and who is condemned.

Yet today, following the jury’s decision to sentence Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison, the front pages of both popular New York City tabloid “newspapers” carried judgments asserting that Moussaoui is hellbound.

Both papers’ news stories presented the usual oversimplifications and misrepresentations. The Post argues that the sentence comes “despite his admitted role in the worst terror attack in American history.” That, however, is misleading: he may have claimed and even boasted he had a role, but he could not have admitted one, because one did not exist. There is a profound difference. The Post even describes his “role” in the attacks as “murky,” which means unclear. We should not be sentencing people to death if their actions are “unclear.”

The editorial page concedes as much: “Prosecutors themselves had to admit that some of Moussaoui’s wild claims were simply untrue.”

Yet it is the normally more circumspect Daily News which goes for the jugular: “This is not justice. This is an abomination.”

My heart breaks to read these words. To speak of hell implies belief in the Divine, but I am not finding God in these condemnations. Christianity in particular is a religion of peace, of infinite compassion and forgiveness. Self-appointed arbiters of God’s “justice” can be nothing of the sort; that power is not given to us. Yet the Daily News concludes, “Hell awaits.”

Forgiveness is difficult; sometimes well nigh unto impossible, particularly in the case of a man who openly gloats over the horrific deaths of nearly 3,000 innocents. But these publications carry the debate well past the question of whether the death penalty was appropriate: they presume to speak on behalf of God’s almighty judgment. For shame. For deep, horrifying, sickening shame, that anyone could be so arrogant as to believe they could speak for God on the front pages of newspapers.

Christians should rejoice in the verdict. Perhaps during Moussaoui's long isolation in prison he will come to know God, and may achieve forgiveness and redemption. It is for this that Christians should be praying, not complaining bitterly that we have been deprived of witnessing his gory end.


Travis said...

Hi there;

I agree with your piece. I was pretty disturbed by the cover of the two NY tabloids this morning. For a nation with so many people that likely could not tell you any details about this trial, it is disturbing how many people act upset that he has not been put to death.

little-cicero said...

You're absolutely right Andy. We are forbidden explicitely to judge this man and say that he will go to hell.

However, that doesn't mean we can't send him to his judgement, and execute him if he took part in the murder of 2986 people. Even more explicit than those undeniable words of Jesus in the Bible are the instructions of Moses that it is by man's hand that a murder's life should be taken. Being that Jesus never refutes or abolishes those instructions, I see no reason that we cannot kill him if he in effect used his comrades to murder Americans.

If he had such a planning role, you can liken his comrades to hitmen with himself as the hitman's client, and in that context, it would under said circumstances be perfectly Christian to kill Moussoui. If there's one thing we're sure of it is that he not only knew of the scheme but he endorsed it and contributed to it.

Mike B. said...

I'm already unnerved enough by the tabloids' propensity to editorialize on the front page. Even when it's a no-brainer (which it decidedly is not, little-cicero).

Robert Bayn said...

I just trying to figure out since when is the press getting on the side of "God", i mean these people lie more than anyone else (conservative of liberal press), and last i checked, that was a pretty bad thing to do.

I think Justice was served, it's done and over with, his time to meet his maker will come, i will let God figure that out.

Matthew said...


You're starting off with the presumption that he actually did take part in the attacks. In fact, the jury may well have decided he should be executed if "he took part in the murder of 2986 people". Their finding was that he had not in fact done so. They found that his participation was not significant enough to deserve the death penalty.

On another matter, I'm not necessarily against the death penalty in concept (although I suspect Andy might be). I am however, generally against the death penalty in practice because our justice system results in a disturbing amount of wrongful convictions on death row.

epicurist said...

"But these publications carry the debate well past the question of whether the death penalty was appropriate: they presume to speak on behalf of God’s almighty judgment."

Is this not just sensationalism in the media and the complete lack of moral responsibility in providing news facts as opposed to editorials? This type of news fabrication is as impartially inflammative as Communist or Socialist propaganda.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Andy said...

Even more explicit than those undeniable words of Jesus in the Bible are the instructions of Moses that it is by man's hand that a murder's life should be taken. Oh? Perhaps you ought to consult the chapter I quoted from, Luke 6, in particular this passage and tell me if you think Jesus didn't override Mosaic instructions on punishment.

Also, again, you've missed the point. This is no longer about whether he "deserves" the death penalty, this is about whether any man has the right to say that someone is going to heaven or not.

Travis: LOVE that image.

DJRainDog said...

Darling Andy, I must take issue with you on only one point. You referred to thsoe who died in the horrible events of 11 September 2001 as "innocents". I would submit to you that the vast majority were not. None of us are innocents, for we are all complicit, until and unless we rail and rebel against and unseat them, in the heinous and reprehensible actions of the government which we have installed for ourselves. We ARE bullies, rapists, thieves, adulterers and murderers, as long as our government sanctions our behaviour thus in the rest of the world. Do we deserve to die for it by the thousands whilst we're trying to make a living to support our families and better ourselves? No. But we must own our actions, and we must try to do better. I've been saying for years that there are no innocent bystanders.

And l-c again: You (and much of middle America) have missed the Lord's message (and I don't mean Spencer's) entirely. Do you really ever read the Bible? And if you do, do you think about what it says? Or does it actually comfort you to know that when Mr. Aethlos talks about fucktards and lemmingtards, he's referring to you?

Andy said...

DJ, I get you. By innocent, I mean they are largely innocent, or at least only indirectly responsible, for the problems bin Laden claims he is addressing. Do people in the Arab world have legitimate concerns about U.S. actions and policy in their corner of the world? Absolutely. Is killing 3,000 people who are in no real position to help them a step in the right direction? No way. Bin Laden is an intelligent, compelling speaker. If only, years ago, he had chosen to address the United Nations or other similar, legitimate organizations, maybe he could have effected some real change for the better for all of us. But instead he chose to repay injustice with injustice.

DJRainDog said...

One of the things that upset me most about all this is that you're right to describe Osama as you do. By demonising him we only give him more power; it only saddens me that we couldn't have averted the situation, not by pre-emptive strikes, but by treating other humans like other humans, whose concerns are valid and whose lives are as valuable as our own.

little-cicero said...

I addressed completely the question of whether we should judge Moussaoui, if you read the first sentence of my comment. No, we should never judge people, the question is can we kill murderers. I'm just saying that whether we can judge a person in the theological sense bears no relevence upon whether we may kill a murderer. If you did not intend to bring capital punishment into this discussion, I apologize.

I'm more than ready to make a Matthew argument for capital punishment, but I will need you to tell me what chapter you are reffering to in Luke to make a Luke argument.

little-cicero said...

DJ Raindog is absolutely right when he indicts all Americans for the actions of our government. That would make every American, including myself, DJ Raindog, Andy and all of his readers liberators of the oppressed, spreaders of democracy, and exporters of prosperity to the Middle East. Those are our only crimes to the people Osama claims to fight for! Bin Laden resists prosperity and democracy because he finds them and their byproducts anti-Muslim in nature, and I respect that, but I cannot respect the means by which he tries to change those circumstances, and the problem lies in that the only way to change things peacefully and legitimately is through democracy. I also can't respect your, quite frankly, idiotic claims that we have actually committed the crimes that Osama claims we've committed against his people.

Andy said...

Ummm, gee, I thought it was pretty clear I was referring to the sixth chapter of Luke. You could have clicked on the link...

Can you make a Matthew argument in favor of capital punishment for someone who hasn't committed a capital crime? Sheesh.

The quite frankly idiotic claims that Bin Laden makes? Ummm, are you familiar with the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union? Are you familiar with the way we empowered Saddam Hussein in the 1980's (when he was still every bit as much a horrible dictator as he ever was, and he actually HAD and was USING weapons of mass destruction) in his war against Iran? Are you familiar with the way we fomented a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq following the first gulf war and then abandoned them to be slaughtered by the thousands by Saddam's Republican guard? Are you familiar with the way we roundly (and properly) condemn every act of Palestinian terrorism but have historically ignored that Israel has made the Palestinians refugees in their own homes? Are you familiar with the way we invaded and occupied a country based on accusations of weapons that did not exist? Boy, when you make claims based on things you know nothing about, you really put your foot in it, don't you?

little-cicero said...

Boy, when you make claims based on things you know nothing about, you really put your foot in it, don't you?

"Um, are you familiar with the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union?" Umm, are you familiar with the scale of threat posed by the Soviet Union to the lives of all Americans when we backed the mujahadeen and Northern Alliance?

Are you familiar with the Iran Hostage Crisis, which was at least allowed by Iran's government, and Iran's attacks on Kuwaiti Oil Tankers before Iraq had made such attacks.

There were harldy any Arabs in Palestine when the Zionists were given that land (and the land has no Q'ranic religious significance), but in any event Israel never banished Muslims from Palestine, it was the Palestinians who banished Israelis, through intimidation and terrorism. To this day Muslims take every right to live beside Jews, but Jews would not dare step into Muslim-dominated regions.

The evidence that weapons existed in Iraq seemed convincing at the time, and considering the evasive nature of the Iraqi Government, they simply could not have been trusted to pick out the inspection sites. An Inspector asked the Iraqi Doctor who was thought to be the head of Chemical Weaponry Research "Why do you keep lying to us" and she answered "It's not a lie when you are ordered to say it" We have done much mroe good for the Iraqi people than bad, so don't try to tell me that we have raped Iraq. Tell that to the Iraqis who loved my USMC cousin like a member of their family during his tour of duty.

kr pdx said...

which rather brings us around again to "we don't get to be a world leader unless we LEAD," doesn't it? If we acted for the moral good (which I assume by definition to include EVERYONE, not some weirdass way just the "important" people) rather than our national convenience or "security" (boy, those backfire like crazy, eh?), most of the arguments here and at LC wouldn't exist.

(kr for President, 2012--remember it ;). )

little-cicero said...

You can't be president without a blogger profile. And while you're at it, get yourself a blog. I would be glad to link to it. I'm willing to bet kr pdx's blog will be almost as good as mine (impossible, I know).

kr pdx said...

As I recently responded to Future Geek:

I have three kids not yet in school and lots of things I should be doing instead of blogging. As long as I am only commenting on other people's blogs, I'm not committed to this very tempting time-sink ;). I hope to become a "real" web citizen around 2008 or 2009. I appreciate you all accepting me in in the meantime, though.

(A friend who knows me well laughed when I said it was tempting to start a blog: "I didn't think anyone could write more a prolific blog than Andy, but you sure would!" Yeah ... yep, no time right now :).)

Thanks for the invitation, though.

Actually, though, I think a blog presence would have to be VERY carefully considered for someone who was aiming for the Presidency--don't you? Talk about fertile ground for capturing unfortunate mistatements!! (Or, in my case, embarassing misspellings :P! )

Trickish Knave said...

"...when he actually HAD and was USING weapons of mass destruction"

followed by:
"Are you familiar with the way we invaded and occupied a country based on accusations of weapons that did not exist?"

That is just too delicious to pass up, like a chocolate eclaire cake, but I only have so much time here at work to waste taxpayer's money.

I think when people say "Rot in hell, Jihadist scum!" they arne't passing judgement. Hypersensitive pragmatics love to point their fingers at people when even the slightest bit of percieved holy judgement is thrown around.

Rebel Solier: "Sir, your tauntaun will freeze to death before it reaches the first checkpoint."

Han Solo: "Then I'll see you in Hell!"

Come now, was Han really passing judgement on this poor slob who has been up for 23 hours straight tyring to get the snow speeders adjusted to the cold?

To point at people and tell them where their eternal soul is going to end up is a little presumptuous but depending on your faith you can make a fair call on the possibility of where their soul i sgoing. For example, fundamentla Christians believe that in order to get through the Pearly Gates you must:

1) Believe that Jesus is the Son Of God

2) Christ died for your sins.

That's pretty much it. You can throw baptism in there if you wish but my point being that if you know someone who doesn't meet those two criteria (of this particular faith, for example) that there is a good possibility they aren't going to Heaven, at least the Heaven that you believe in.

So why can't someone who believes in their own prerequisites for getting in to heaven be able to confidantly throw out thier opinion on the whole thing?

Andy said...

TK, umm...are you acting all "shocked" that I "admit" that Saddam had WMD's? Okay, hello, let's catch up with the storyline here. Yes, he had WMD's in the 1980s because Ronald Reagan gave them to him. But that was 20 years ago. Over three years of occupation of Iraq, and we can't find a single iota of evidence of any kind that there were available stockpiles or active programs, only fragile ambitions fatally hampered by UN sanctions. They're gone. My POINT is, the Weapons of Mass Destruction were never the issue, because if they were, Reagan would have done something about them, right? Or, wouldn't Cheney have pushed Bush I for invasion when he was Secretary of Defense? They were simply a premise to launch the neocons' fantasy plans for the middle east.

kr pdx said...

I can't imagine Cheney not pushing for invasion, except that he knew GBI was cautious, so it wouldn't have kept him in good stead. Then he glommed on to the cowboy son ... maybe GBII was just part of the neocons' plans, too ;).

Trickish Knave said...

I know that the whole WMD thing is important ot a lot people because it either lends credibiloity to our invasion or condemns it. You choose to believe what you read on MSNBC and continue to speculate on what past presidents "might" have done, just as I believe what I read, hear and see.

We haven't found a huge stockpile- true dat. But everyone admits he did have them, much to the demise of the occupants of the mass graves. Saddam is a manipulative, sneaky bastard who has shown time and time again oer the last 13 years prior to our invasion that he cannot be trusted.

Why is it so hard to believe that he got rid of all that shit in between the times he partially agreed to let U.N. inspectors into Iraq? You need to have that stockpile to convince yourself what we did was necessary?

Quoting you wasn't intended as bait but, like unknowingly leaving a fising pole over the side with some corn on the hook, you took it and I am now pouring water on the reel as you take off with it.

I think Saddam is a despotic asshole that killed his own people, harbored terrorists, and, in general, was a pain in the ass to the rest of the world. Hell, sometimes Geppetto needs to cut the strings off and toss his creation into the fire.

You may believe Saddam was/is just as much of an asshole as I do, but you continue to believe that he "saw the light", and, while conituing to torture and kill his own people, went ahead and complied with the U.N. request to get rid of his chemical weapons.

Bottom line, nobody outside a small circle of people who use secret handshakes knows the full story. Again, like man yof our spirited conversations, we will just agree to disagree. I guess I'll just cut the line now and watch you swim around with a hook in your mouth.

Now that that's out of the way, what is your opinion on the rest of my original post?

little-cicero said...

"They were simply a premise to launch the neocons' fantasy plans for the middle east."

So do you argue that the war was wrongly executed on the basis of the implausibility of spreading freedom in the Middle East? Don't you even have an idealistic yearning for Peace in the Middle East?

I agree basically with your characterization, the WMDs were relatively inconsequential compared with other threats posed by Hussein, so that argument was probably used simply as a legalistic means of satisfying the criteria for going to war. I would not have argued on the basis of WMDs as a primary consideration, but it seemed that this war was vital at the time as it seems vital today.

If I was GWB in 2003, I would have explained it this way: "

If you've got a mosquito problem, and the mosquito's are sucking your blood and passing on diseases to you, you can't negotiate, you have to kill them. There's two ways to do that: Wait for them to bite you and kill them while their on your skin, swat at them in mid-air, destroy their nests or put up a mosquito-lantern that attracts the mosquitos and kills them. Obviously the worst option is the second one. Now say those mosquitos are terrorists. We have carried out all other options but the last one. In the process of enstating a democracy in Iraq, we will enstate such a mosquito lamp, attracting terrorists that would otherwise be scattered and killing them on a field of battle rather than at home."

Andy said...

TK, you and I have been running in the same circle chasing each other's tails forever. Criminently, for the last time, I am not saying Saddam wasn't that bad or suggesting he was on the road to reform. I am saying the invasion was a bad idea, and a poorly executed one at that. This could have been done much differently. And it does matter that there were no WMD's, because we have a Secretary of Defense who, as it was recently pointed out yet again, said of these weapons: "We know where they are." That was simply a lie. You can't really spin that one. There needs to be accountability for government officials who bolstered support for a war of choice using false allegations. Hell, it was Rumsfeld himself who in 1983 was photographed shaking Hussein's hand in Baghdad, while he was known to be using lethal gas on the Kurds and Iran. If that is not nauseating hypocrisy, then I do not know what is. I don't believe that the lowest price we could have paid for putting Saddam Hussein behind bars would be more than 2,000 American lives, over 30,000 Iraqi lives, and billions of dollars.

LC: One does not launch WARS based on an "idealistic yearning" for peace.

little-cicero said...

What is your judgement of the first Gulf War?

Andy said...

Well, Saddam Hussein launched an unprovoked invasion of a neighboring sovereign nation. Kuwait didn't have the resources to defend itself militarily, and we were, as I recall, bound in a treaty with Kuwait to aid them. It should be pointed out that we went to war to protect a hereditary monarchy whose value to us has to do with oil. But Saddam was wrong to invade and we were right to stop it. There really was an international coalition that time. The war had a clear goal, it wasn't some broadly defined campaign for "democracy."

Should we have gone all the way to Baghdad and "finished the job"? I'm inclined to agree with this guy, who said, "And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

Can you guess who said that? Click on the link and find out. Make sure you're wearing diapers.

kr pdx said...


SINCE WHEN are "American lives" worth more than "Iraqi lives"? Isn't that the kind of bigotted, provincial thinking jerks like that guy are famous for?

Since we didn't press in, how many Shiites were mown down? More than a few thousand, I think!

Cheney is a nationalistic goofball; I'd hope you wouldn't sidle up to him on this one. At least not by agreeing with his weirdass "American lives are inherently more valuable" reasoning. As an American government official, he to a certain extent has to think in those terms. As independent humans, we don't.

You might agree that we shouldn't have gone after him. Please reconsider your argument. (I'm pretty sure you have one along the soveriegn nation line of thought ... you and I have tangled about the UN before around that.)

Andy said...

KR, you've completely completely completely misunderstood. This has nothing to do with whether "American lives" are more valuable than any other kind of life, and I don't think Cheney meant it that way. This is about a man who, in 1992, clearly understood that the practical problems of invading and occupying Iraq were numerous. And, as Secretary of Defense, he had the responsibility for those "American lives." Maybe he could have chosen his words more carefully so as to not unintentionally give that impression, but he was just saying that Saddam Hussein was not worth the inevitable casualties for which Cheney acknowledged personal responsibility, specifically American soldiers. Another way of saying it: Saddam Hussein was not the kind of threat that would justify additional casualties. Mind you, this is back when Saddam still had WMD's.

kr pdx said...

OK, sorry I took your quote of Cheney literally.

But I have to correct you, the State Department at least does think in terms of "American lives" (just like most of the major media outlets: tsunami in Asia/Oceania? "Reportedly (x) Americans dead" ... ! What a ridiculous thing to report, particularly the first few days!). Source unnamed: part of the math going on in the State Dept leading up to the invasion was "when do we have the military capability to keep the American casualties down to 1 for every 8 Iraqi casualties?," because that was the number (or some number near that, I can't remember exactly) that polling had shown them Americans would "accept." Parts of the government had had this invasion on the agenda since before Gulf I (negating your we-thought-it-was-hunky-dory-when he had WMDs before). I suspect it really was just that GB I wouldn't let them go the whole way the first time. (Kind of a pity; GB I might have managed the post-fight process better.)

So I think Cheney meant exacty what he said.

And consider ... this attitude, apparently inconceivable to you, would explain a lot about the apparent lack of concern from the Administration over day-to-day Iraqi lives in favor of American soldier saftey and overall development of "Democracy."

I suspect in the "red states" this concern over "American Lives" is understood ... the polling had to come from someplace! Any red-staters want to comment?