There is an unspoken commonality between the two big domestic news items of the past week. The first, of course, involves the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. The second is the (farcical) indictment of Governor Rick Perry. The former has sparked outrage and continued discussions over items ranging from racism to police brutality. There has been a much needed discussion of whether the police have become more confrontational, and whether they have become overly militarized. Though the wizards of smart at such venerable institutions as Vox may not realize it, this has actually been an ongoing conversation for some time in conservative and libertarian circles. Even some on the right have attacked armies of strawmen in claiming that conservatives in general are reflexively defensive of the police. While we certainly are less quick to call for prosecutions before all the evidence is in (unlike certain governors), that doesn’t mean we automatically awesome that the police are in the right whenever a civilian is shot and killed.
As for the Perry indictment – well, when even the editorial pages of the New York Times and Austin American Statesmen, as well as lefty pundits like Jonathan Chait, acknowledge (through gritted teeth) there is no there there, you might just have yourselves a completely partisan and unmerited prosecution. But the conversation surrounding the Perry indictment has centered around its frivolousness and the potential impact on Perry’s political future. What it has not sparked is a similar conversation about prosecutorial misbehavior that we are hearing regarding police misbehavior. And that is a mistake.
Before continuing, I want to make clear that the two cases are not of the same gravity. Michael Brown is dead, whereas at worst Rick Perry’s possible presidential ambitions have been hampered (though there is a possibility that in fact this has been incredibly beneficial to his presidential aspirations). In the grand scheme of things, I would gladly take wrongful prosecution over being shot and killed by a police officer. Yet, when we talk more generally about law enforcement and criminal prosecution, we should be just as concerned about bad DAs as we are about rotten police officers.
The Perry case has drawn notice, but it’s certainly not the first case of a political prosecution. Indeed, it’s not even the first case of a purely partisan, political prosecution of a Republican coming from a Travis County District Attorney (see Delay, Tom). In Alaska, prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated the late Ted Stevens. Now these are political prosecutions, so it might be somewhat more difficult to empathize with the wrongfully prosecuted. But there have been other noteworthy examples of prosecutors either disregarding evidence, or simply engaging in prosecutions due to political pressure, or to advance their own careers. The most notorious example in recent years is perhaps Michael Nifong, the Durham county DA who pressed forward with rape charge against Duke lacrosse players even after it became manifestly obvious that no crime had been committed. This past year we witnessed the George Zimmerman trial, an event which occurred it seems largely because the DA was fearful of the political fallout (and I acknowledge that I might be somewhat generous about her motivations) if there was no prosecution. Even the Michael Brown shooting could become a political prosecution if it is felt that the police officer has to be tried merely to appease the mob.*
*Again, let me emphasize that I am not saying that a trial would merely be a political witch-hunt. We do not have all the evidence in, and it is quite possible that Darren Wilson ought to be indicted once all the evidence is in. I am merely saying here that there is a potential for an unjustified prosecution based solely on political pressure.
These are but the most notorious examples that come to mind, but undoubtedly there are others that are just heinous, if not worse. The point is that some prosecutors – much like some police officers – are motivated by less than honest intentions, and their behavior can be just as destructive to a person’s life. Now, I’m not saying that every incorrect prosecution is a wrongful prosecution. Prosecuting attorneys are mortal and can honestly but incorrectly come to the conclusion that the suspect is guilty. We can only hope in those cases that the jury can realize the error. Prosecutors should not be maligned for honest errors in judgment. But what is dangerous and what does tear at the social fabric is a DA who marches on in spite of contradictory evidence, who intentionally stifles exculpatory evidence, and who refuses to relent all because they just so desperately need a conviction, and any conviction will do.
We don’t fear District Attorneys as we do police officers because District Attorneys don’t carry guns (as part of their jobs), and so they aren’t going to wrongfully kill anyone. But we need to demand the same level of integrity from them as we do the police precisely because they are guardians of law and order. When they use their office as a political weapon, they are making a mockery of the rule of law.
In some ways, we shouldn’t be surprised at all concerning the attacks on Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father was never one of the “chosen religious people” loved by the dying group called progressive Christians, or by the mainstream media; that distinctions falls to the National Catholic Reporter, Maureen Dowd, Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, or the openly gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson.
(Point of personal privilege. In my mind, there are two schools of liberals, one is the utopian view, and while I disagree with their unrealistic views of the world, they are in their heart of hearts not nefarious. This group truly believes the world would be a better place if their views were followed. A couple examples of their spiritual gurus would be Jerry Brown and Jerry Garcia. However the other form of liberalism, which is much more prevalent, is a virulent strain that masquerades as a protector of the less fortunate and a conduit of all things intellectual. Their goal is nothing less than absolute societal control; their godfathers are Voltaire, Nietztche, Karl Marx, Saul Alinksy etc.)
When the Abuse Crisis came to Europe, the mainstream media, and the many within religious reporting circles who despise the conservative social teachings of the Catholic Church, were licking their chops to take a shot at Pope Benedict. Never mind, the huge number of abuse cases coming out of big government circles, or the fact that an overwhelming majority of abusers who were priests were those with views of changing the Church and not respecting her teachings, the mainstream media smelled blood in the water and feeding frenzy was on.
The New York Times article, basically saying then Cardinal Ratzinger looked the other way during the abuse scandal, was so shoddy that even writers from the liberal Jesuit America magazine took note of it. It might behoove those who have fallen for the Old Gray Lady’s hysterical rantings to read the quotes of some in the mainstream media praising then Cardinal Ratzinger’s handling of the crisis during the later stages of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
Why the attack on the Catholic Church one might ask? The Catholic Church is the only Church who is universal, can speak with one voice and has conservative based social views. This coupled with the fact, that she unlike far too many Christian churches, has never lost her belief in the mystical i.e. the Eucharist, miracles, apparitions etc. However, the biggest reason some in the mainstream media attack the Holy Father is that despite all of these “non modern” views, the Catholic Church continues to grow. Adding insult to injury for these modern day Pontius Pilates (what is truth?) the Church continues to grow, young people in particular are draw to devotions like the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration. Continue reading
In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor. Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds. If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.