aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, August 21, 2006
Vengeance by any other name…
On Retributive Justice. Again.
I’m not just some lilly livered liberal. I believe there’s crime and there needs to be punishment. My argument does not deny that there are very real and serious problems to be addressed but I believe that a more effective response would lead to a better, more just and healthier civilization. A civilization with less crime.
[T]he true rationale for capital punishment is indeed justice. It is an approximation of the transcendent order of justice which God has ordained and which the legitimate sovereign, that is, the State, has an obligation to protect, despite the impossibility of its perfect achievement here below.
That a great many mistake vengeance for retributive justice is beyond dispute…
Hm, sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. Just exactly what is retributive justice?
Central to retributive justice are the notions of merit and desert. We think that people should receive what they deserve. This means that people who work hard deserve the fruits of their labor, while those who break the rules deserve to be punished. In addition, people deserve to be treated in the same way that they voluntarily choose to treat others. If you behave well, you are entitled to good treatment from others. [...]
The idea that we should treat people as they deserve is commonly accepted. We do not think that war criminals should be allowed to live carefree lives after committing unspeakable crimes against humanity.
However, there is a dangerous tendency to slip from retributive justice to an emphasis on revenge.
Conservative Christians are overrepresented among those who believe in retribution, rooting their support in “an eye for an eye” while not giving a second thought to “turn the other cheek” and all that is said about forgiveness in the name of God.
Restorative Justice, with its belief that everyone is entitled to “good treatment,” seems a whole lot more Christian to me.
Georgia’s sex offender registry law is irreparably flawed
Georgia’s sex offender registry law is irreparably flawed.
Its stated purpose is the protection of Georgia’s children. Yet it does little, if anything, to protect children from sexual assault. It provides a false sense of security for citizens while unreasonably and irrationally depriving individuals of fundamental rights.
My career has been dedicated to the protection of children. I was responsible for the prosecution of hundreds of sex offenders over 21 years. I taught prosecutors throughout the United States and Europe how to prosecute sex offenders.
I co-founded and currently chair the Georgia Center for Children, a private nonprofit organization that provides free counseling for victims of child sexual abuse. I am dismayed when a statute is passed, purportedly to protect children, but actually does nothing to protect them. I am concerned when laws compromise the rights of citizens without judicious, sound rationale.
“Living near a church packs a serious punishment”
Metro Atlanta sheriffs have been ordering sex offenders who live within about a fifth of a mile of a church to move or face arrest.
In Cobb County, four registered sex offenders had been arrested under the provision as of late last week, authorities said. Hall County deputies had arrested five. And in Gwinnett County, deputies had told six offenders to move because they were too close to churches and arrested one who didn’t comply.
Most of the attention on Georgia’s new sex offender law, which took effect in July, has focused on barring offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school bus stops. For now, a federal judge has blocked enforcement of that provision, which could have forced hundreds from their homes, while its constitutionality is debated in court.
But lesser-known parts of the sex offender law, introduced by House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island), are forcing people to move or face arrest. [...]
Living near a church packs a serious punishment; sex offenders who knowingly violate the restriction face a felony charge that carries at least 10 years in prison.
Sex offenders The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contacted declined to be interviewed if they were going to be named in this article. But they said the law punishes people who have served their sentences and are now living law-abiding lives.
More than 10,550 people are on Georgia’s sex offender registry, with about 2,000 incarcerated. The registry includes the names, addresses and crimes of people convicted of rape, child molestation, sexual battery, soliciting minors for sex and other crimes. It also includes people convicted of crimes, such as sodomy, for consensual acts when they were teenagers.
Pentagon Adviser’s cushy contract
A contract allowed a Pentagon adviser to take home more than $300,000 in university-sponsored pay but never work at the school:
Federal authorities and the University of North Texas are investigating the school’s contract with a Pentagon official who claimed a $310,000 salary last year but didn’t do any work for the school.
The university and the Pentagon signed a one-year contract in November 2004 with retired Brig. Gen. Klaus Schafer, then a top adviser for the U.S. Defense Department, according to an investigation by The Denton Record-Chronicle.
UNT officials said they believed that Schafer, a leading expert in chemical and biological defense, would join the faculty after his assignment with the Pentagon. He didn’t.
UNT spokeswoman Deborah Leliaert said the school not only lost the cost of Schafer’s salary but also has paid about $1.3 million in investigation costs so far.
Via the Chronicle:
Such contracts, which are often known as IPA’s and are common in academe, allow government agencies to hire experts at competitive salaries, which are paid by universities and other sponsoring organizations, such as corporations.
The government agencies reimburse the sponsors for most of the cost of the salaries. Before working at the agencies, the experts are typically required to work for at least 90 days at the sponsoring organizations. However, Deborah Leliaert, a spokeswoman for the University of North Texas, said on Sunday there’s no evidence that Mr. Schafer ever worked at the university.
They eat their own
In the last few months, trade groups representing music publishers have used the threat of copyright lawsuits to shut down guitar tablature sites, where users exchange tips on how to play songs like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Highway to Hell” and thousands of others.
The battle shares many similarities with the war between Napster and the music recording industry, but this time it involves free sites like Olga.net, GuitarTabs.com and MyGuitarTabs.com and even discussion boards on the Google Groups service like alt.guitar.tab and rec.music.makers.guitar.tablature, where amateur musicians trade “tabs” - music notation especially for guitar - for songs they have figured out or have copied from music books. [...]
The publishers, who share royalties with composers each time customers buy sheet music or books of guitar tablature, maintain that tablature postings, even inaccurate ones, are protected by copyright laws because the postings represent “derivative works” related to the original compositions, to use the industry jargon. [...]
“The publishers can’t dispute the fact that the popularity of playing guitar has exploded because of sites like mine,” said Robert Balch, the publisher of Guitar Tab Universe (guitartabs.cc), in Los Angeles. “And any person that buys a guitar book during their lifetime, that money goes to the publishers.”
Mr. Balch, who took down guitar tabs from his site in late July at the behest of the music publishers, added that, “I’d think the music publishers would be happy to have sites that get people interested in becoming one of their customers.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Charging 36% interest and crying poor
I recently got an e-mail from someone who works for the Community Financial Services Association, the national trade group of payday lenders. She is unhappy that Congress wants to put a cap on the rates that payday lenders can charge. The proposed cap is 36% APR.
If this legislation were passed, the CFSA woman writes, “Payday advance lenders could not even meet employee payroll at that rate, let alone cover employee payroll, other fixed business expenses and make a profit.” In other words: in trying to protect poor people from usurious loans, Congress will shut down one of the few legal avenues for poor people to get short-term loans.
To which I thought: 36% APR! I haven’t read Merchant of Venice in a while, but I’m pretty sure Shylock didn’t get anywhere near that much. According to Using “The Merchant of Venice” in Teaching Monetary Economics, Jewish and Christian doctrines concerning usury were even less permissive than standing Roman law, which allowed up to 12% APR interest on cash loans.
But the payday lenders can’t survive on 36%? If that’s the case, I don’t know how the poor credit-card companies are scraping by, to say nothing of financial advisors, book agents, and even Realtors. It even makes the I.R.S.’s recent move to hire collection agencies look pretty reasonable.
He posts the entire email.
Congregation supports gay Lutheran pastor in Atlanta
A gay Lutheran pastor facing possible expulsion from his church says he will choose his partner over his vocation if he is disciplined for being in a gay relationship.
Rev. Bradley Schmeling, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, has been charged with violating pastoral conduct guidelines mandated under the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. [...]
“Pastor Schmeling has admitted to me that he is in violation of ELCA ‘Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline...’ for ordained ministers. Specifically, Pastor Schmeling disclosed to me that he is in a sexual relationship with an adult male. He has declined my requests for his resignations from his call to St. John’s Lutheran Church and the ELCA clergy roster,” Warren wrote.
It’s a committed relationship. The congregantion supports it:
St. John’s Congregation President Laura Crawley said that she has heard no backlash from church members concerning Schmeling’s charges. And while there has been no talk of a split from the Southeastern Synod, she maintained that the congregation is also squarely behind its pastor.
“We’re very happy for Bradley and Darin both, and celebrate their relationship. It was not as if we never expected that he might find a partner. Our congregation is clear in our support of Bradley, and we also want to remain a part of the Lutheran Church.