Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The most popular TED talks tend to be uncontroversial and, to use TED’s own terminology, “jaw-dropping.” People want to stare in wonderment or be blown away by the advances we have made in the sciences or hear about a new discovery.

People don’t like to hear about race, poverty, and justice, so Bryan Stevenson’s TEDTalk is a bit outside of TED’s usual purview of Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

But to me, this fits perfectly into the question of design. When we design something, we must think about its purpose; design is more than attractive chairs. Institutional design determines how we administer justice in our society. What are the values we uphold? What does the design of our systems tell us about the answer to that question?

Stevenson’s talk doesn’t quite answer those questions, but it digs at the heart of what we believe to be a justice system and the shrugging apathy we afford it.

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Four San Francisco Police Department officers accompanied corporate security officials from Apple to look for the “lost” iPhone prototype during a home search.

If SFPD officers can just be borrowed every time there’s a missing corporate prototype, maybe they’ll help me find random crap that I’ve left in bars.

I wonder about the type of preferential treatment received by Apple and other major corporations. I doubt that SFPD officers are that helpful when a person on the street loses their iPhone. In fact, I’d say retrieving stolen property is generally pretty far down on the list of police priorities.

I guess all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

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I currently think Rick Perry is the most likely person to win the GOP presidential nomination. And when I think of Perry, the first thing I think of is Cameron Todd Willingham. And I will admit to being hopeful that if only we could explain what happened to people, they would be repelled by Perry’s role in the matter. But after being more honest with myself, I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. People just don’t care about the death penalty that much, don’t want to learn about its injustices, and when they do hear about them, are likely to say things like “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” or even “it takes balls to execute an innocent man.”

Thankfully, TNC has some sobering yet nonetheless encouraging words:

I don’t much care that the Willingham case won’t deep-six Rick Perry. That kind of cynical utilitarianism has never been my bad [sic? I think he might mean “bag”]. Frederick Douglass couldn’t stop Jim Crow or achieve universal suffrage either. But we live in Douglass’s America, not Bobby Lee’s.

In this long battle, in this longer war for a more informed citizenry, and thus a more responsible political class, Willingham should not be forgotten. Activists, agitators, writers and thinkers who measure their efforts by presidential cycles should take up another business. This is no place for fast food intellectuals.

This will be a long, difficult battle. And unlike the one for marriage equality, which I consider destined for success for simple demographic reasons, there is no guarantee of success at any point during my lifetime. But it’s a battle I will never shy away from. It’s time for me to make another donation to the Innocence Project. I suggest you consider doing the same.

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Look, I’m generally anti-religious, but I try to steer clear of the more militant leanings of guys like Hitchens and Harris. After reading this, though, it’s hard not to be filled with their zealous (anti-zealous?) rage:

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.


Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.

Instead of being disciplined, Father Murphy was quietly moved by Archbishop William E. Cousins of Milwaukee to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes, schools and, as one lawsuit charges, a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest.

Sure, I know you’re thinking, “Well, what else is new?” Unlike previous cases, this one directly involves Cardinal Ratzinger — the future Pope Benedict XVI — to whom Father Murphy wrote a direct appeal that ended his canonical prosecution. The Pope is afforded protection from prosecution as a head of state of the Holy See, but so were Idi Amin and the Shah of Iran.

It’s time to take the Catholic Church to the cleaners for their vicious and destructive crimes, and to treat it like any other criminal organization — with contempt and loathing for its leadership.

What gets me most riled up is this:

At the same time, the officials’ reluctance to defrock a sex abuser shows that on a doctrinal level, the Vatican has tended to view the matter in terms of sin and repentance more than crime and punishment.

You want to make condoms and contraceptives illegal, make a woman’s choice about her own body murder, prosecute end-of-life care, and criminalize gay relationships. That all deserves crime and punishment. But your own crimes? Against children, the most vulnerable and trusting of your flock? Eh, fuck it, that’s your own sin to take care of and none of the government’s business. Here, in the most truly vile of crimes, the Catholic Church simply moves the perpetrator around while ignoring the victim.

Sue the Church until the Pope himself has to walk around jangling the collection box to an unwilling crowd. They deserve nothing.

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There was a real tragedy at Fort Hood today. The details will be forthcoming, I am sure. I am near going to bed, and I just checked on Sullivan, who said that, “I’ve now read so many conflicting reports and rumors and speculation about motives that I’m dizzy.” Incidentally, both Stendhal and I are super busy right now, so we sometimes don’t see news unfold live. But based on Sully’s comment, I was sure there had to be some spectacular false statements earlier today that I had missed, so I went over to my usual source for crazy talk, NRO’s The Corner. Now, in fairness to the Corner, many of their posts today weren’t commentary, but were repeating things that were being reported elsewhere. But still, scrolling back to get to earlier today, I see:

-Several people are being held, which means that this was a coordinated conspiracy arranged by multiple people (False, there was one shooter.)

-The shooter is dead (False, he is alive and in custody.)

-The shooter was a recent convert to Islam (False, he has been a Muslim his whole life.)

I picked those, especially the first one, because they fit too cleanly into an already written narrative, that this was a planned outburst of jihad by fundamentalist Muslim terrorists. Now, sure, it is possible that that is what Nidal Hasan is. We will find out, I am sure. But it’s sadly certain that this will be *the* focus of the story over the next few days. Or, as TPM put it earlier today: this is going to get very dark. Like, for example, this. I’m glad I didn’t read anything about this until much later tonight.

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I’m too disgusted even to write about it, so I’ll let Greenwald do it for me. Arar was an innocent Canadian with no connections to terrorism now or ever, who while traveling through the US was abducted by the US government, held without communication to anyone, and then shipped to Syria to be tortured for 10 months. The Canadian government publicly apologized to him and paid him $9 million dollars. The US government has never ackowledged it did wrong and now, by way of one of its federal appeals courts, has voted 7-4 to throw his case out. That about sums it up. And go ahead and file Arar under “A” in the book of reasons for people to justifiably hate America forever.

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And he must realize it. You might recall that a few weeks ago I blogged here, here, and here about Cameron Todd Willingham, the man who was executed by Texas for a crime that never happened. He was put to death for allegedly starting a fire that killed his children, but subsequent examinations showed that arson was not to blame. Without arson, there was no crime.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission was set to hear testimony two days from now from the author of one of the reports that concluded that arson was not the cause of the fire. However, Gov. Perry has removed three of the members of this commission and replaced them, and now the testimony has been postponed indefinitely. Perry claims that the replacements were routine because the their terms had expired, and that may be true. But one of those he replaced – the chairman – had previously written that the investigation should go on. His replacement is reportedly one of the most hard-line prosecutors in the country. How convenient for Perry, eh?

Like TNC says, it’s difficult for people to admit error. The more severe the error (and this is about as severe as they come), the less likely it is we will ever see Perry come clean and admit his role in the execution of an innocent.

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