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The Latest Truth-Challenged Abolitionist: The Pope

Prosecutors often present unsavory fellows  --  members of drug gangs, for example  -- as witnesses in drug trafficking cases.  In closing argument, they'll remind a skeptical jury that, while these witnesses might not be of the best character, you can't expect the people who know the inner workings of drug conspiracies to be the Pope.

The implication is that the Pope is a model of honesty.

Well, not exactly.
This commentary, titled "Is the Death Penalty un-Christian?" makes the following observation:

Among Christian leaders, Pope Francis has been at the forefront of arguing against the death penalty...[H]e observes that the death penalty is no longer relevant because modern prisons prevent criminals from doing further harm. Pope Francis speaks of a larger ethic of forgiveness.  He emphasizes social justice for all citizens as well as the opportunity for those who harm society to make amends through acts that affirm life, not death.

The proposition that "modern prisons prevent criminals from doing further harm" is one of the more breathtaking flubs I've heard recently, and I've heard plenty, particularly from abolitionists.

We can start with last week's widely publicized execution in Arkansas.  The man executed had served about four weeks of a life sentence (for murder) in a maximum security prison when he escaped and murdered two more people.

Of course, we need not recur to that episode, although it's so recent and glaring. People serving prison sentences have been murdering others both in prison and after erroneous release or escapes for decades.  The Pope doesn't know this? And then there is the loud and largely justified outrage about prisoners raping other prisoners, not to mention running smack gangs from inside the big house.

I think prosecutors need to stop using the Pope as a model of honesty.

P.S.  I'm still waiting for the opinion piece titled, "Is the Death Penalty un-Islamic." I have a suspicion that I'll be waiting a long time, because abolitionists tend to buy political correctness lock, stock and barrel, and criticism of Islamic culture, which heartily approves of the death penalty, is considered verbotten.

One of my favorite questions when I debate the death penalty before law school audiences is to the student participant who asks me why the death penalty has been banished is so much of the "enlightened" world.  My response is, "The death penalty is embraced by Islam and Islamic countries.  Are you saying Muslims are backward?"

I have never received an answer to that other than silence.  

UPDATE:   This post originally said the Pope was an abolitionist liar.  Upon reflection, and taking into consideration of the views explained below by TarlsQtr and Doug Berman, I believe my use of the word "liar" was ill-tempered and rude. I retract it and apologize to those who might have been offended.  The Pope's statement was grossly false, he and should have known better, but "liar" was pushing it more than I ought to have.


In his defense, and I am no big fan of this Pope even as a practicing Catholic, I suspect he does not even think of the havoc wrought inside our prisons. The cliche throughout my entire life has been that we remove criminals from the streets to protect society, as if people inside prison walls are not people or part of society.

One only has to look as far back as last week to see why this is not true:

"The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said Correctional Sgt. Meggan Lee Callahan responded to a trash can fire in a dormitory at the prison on Wednesday evening.

Callahan got a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire. The suspect, inmate Craig Wissink, immediately attacked Callahan and a struggle ensued, according to DPS.

Wissink, 35, managed to get the fire extinguisher away from Callahan and used it in the assault. Sergeant Callahan died about an hour later despite attempts to resuscitate her.

DHS said Wissink was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in Cumberland County." http://abc11.com/news/dps-inmate-used-fire-extinguisher-to-kill-prison-official/1930496/

The details of his previous murder:

"The evidence at trial tended to show that around 10:00 p.m. on 27 June 2000, two individuals knocked on the door of a trailer belonging to Jonathan Pruey (Pruey).   As Pruey approached the door, the individuals opened the door from outside.   Pruey and his roommate, Corrie Cordier (Cordier), attempted to close the door.   One of the individuals, who was wearing a Halloween hockey mask, fell in through the door.   Cordier “stomped down” on the individual's face and Pruey slammed the door shut, bracing himself against it.   A few seconds later, Cordier heard a loud noise, a moan, someone stumbling in the living room, and then the sound of someone hitting the floor.   Pruey's wife and another roommate turned on the lights and saw Pruey lying on his back on the kitchen floor.   Pruey was losing a large amount of blood from his chest and mouth." http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nc-court-of-appeals/1485812.html

I've found it's good practice to defer to people who know more than I, and for prison administration and safety, TarlQtr is right up there.

I am less generous than he, however. I think it's likely the Pope knows how bad violence in prison is, especially since he's a native of Argentina, where prison conditions are much worse than they are here. It would not surprise me if, as a Cardinal, he had opened a ministry to offer healing to prison inmates regularly beaten to a bloody pulp by their colleagues.

Oh, I am sure he knows how violent prison is too. However, he also likely believes that if we just threw more money at the situation, were nicer to the inmates, and got all feel goody with them that the problem would disappear. He sees it as a problem of the heart (ours, not inmates) and will (again, ours).

It's incredibly naive, but I do not think dishonest.

Again, I want to defer to those with more knowledge, so I'll adjust this to say that the Pope just came out with a big, fat, not-so-good, less-than-factual, incredibly naive, glacier-sized zinger.

Bill, did you even take the time to click through to the Pope's referenced speech before you accused him of being the "latest ablitionist liar"? Do you realize the referenced papal speech was from Oct 2014, so that it is not accurate to say that the Pope "just came out" with anything?

If you clicked through, you would see a National Catholic Reporter article providing this account of the Pope's 2014 speech:

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cited by Pope Francis in his talk, "the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," but modern advances in protecting society from dangerous criminals mean that "cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

You may fairly dispute, Bill, whether the Pope should conclude it is "very rare" that execution is needed to protect human lives from murderers, to but brand the Pope a liar and dishonest based on this statement strikes me as both uncivil and unbecoming.

1. Doug -- You are quite correct that I was mistaken to brand the Pope the "latest" abolitionist liar. As I've been saying for the past couple of weeks or so, there are many more recent disseminators than he of false abolitionist narratives.

Of course, some might think that the untruths themselves are more important than their timing, but what the heck.

So one might wonder, just to be sure: Is it true or false that "prisons prevent criminals from doing further harm"?

2. It's unsettling that you find it necessary to correct my manners in commenting on this blog, while leaving uncorrected, and indeed unmentioned, the following comment on YOUR OWN BLOG:

"I fear the social damage that bloodlusters like Soronel and Bill O. are capable of doing more than I do the social damage caused by locking up a few extra people for the span of their natural lives. The bloodlusters are organized and will...stop at almost nothing to satiate their thirst."

Yes, yes, so according to a comment on your blog (a week ago), I'm a "bloodluster" and there is "almost nothing to satiate [my] thirst."

You give no hint, anywhere, that you find anything wrong with this or with the many more vicious insults to me and my wife on your blog. Meanwhile, you take after me for correcting the Pope's false statement -- a false statement you ALSO published on your blog, sans any hint that it's not true.

Far out.

So let's see now. While, on SL&P, you re-print one proposition after the next you know is false (like the Pope's claim, ACLU claims, Brennan Center claims, etc., etc.), and also publish without reproach dozens of insults directed to me and other conservatives, it's HERE that you come to do the Miss Manners routine???!!!

Gads, Doug, this could give hypocrisy a bad name.

The comment thread is closed.

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