The Jury Talks Back

9/29/2009

Cross supporters: it’s a universal, transcendent, common symbol

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 8:18 pm

Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Salazar v Buono, another church-state dispute involving the presence of a cross on public land.  In this case, the controversial symbol is a war memorial located on a lonely road in the middle of Mojave National Preserve, a 1.6 million acre park in southeastern California.  Ten years ago the National Park Service rejected a request by a man to erect a Buddhist shrine near the cross, and the subsequent legal action resulted in the case now before the Court.

What I find remarkable is a claim made by some of the petitioners arguing in support of the continued presence of the cross.  In a Brief of Amicus Curiae the American Legion Department in California said that the cross is “a uniquely transcendent symbol representing the decision to lay down one’s life for the good of others…  In short, the cross is one of the most common — and significant — symbols of our society.”  The petitioner, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, also argued that the monument was a secular symbol.

Such an argument contradicts the overwhelming evidence of the past 2000 years.  For my entire life I have observed Christians displaying the cross and describing its inherent meaningful, religious nature.  Indeed, in this very case conservative Christian groups such as CatholicVote.org, the American Center for Law & Justice, the Christian Legal Society and the National Association of Evangelicals have filed briefs in support of the petitioner’s position, suggesting that the cross is a “passive religious symbol.”  The cross is a passive symbol?  Puhleeze!

Those supporting the respondent’s position against the cross include several atheist, Jewish, and interfaith groups, and at least two Muslim organizations.  Easter sunrise services have been held at the base of the cross for years.  Can anyone say with a straight face that these groups — the Christian groups and the other groups — would be involved in this case if the cross were a “passive” symbol, and not universally recognized as the most recognized and unique sign of the Christian faith?

The idea that a cross can be divorced from its deep religious symbolism is laughable and ridiculous.  I would expect that sincere Christians would protest the devaluing of their most cherished symbol.

(Note: This Wikipedia page includes images of various crosses considered symbols of Christianity and other religions.  The specific dimensions of the Mojave cross clearly distinguishes it as a Christian symbol. ie. The smaller horizontal bar is centered about 2/3 of the way up on the longer, vertical bar.)

If the offence is heinous

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 8:09 pm

Hat-tip to Keith Burgess-Jackson who linked to A.C. Grayling’s piece on the Polanski controversy.  Patterico has already written a ton about this subject,  but I thought that Grayling’s take might be instructive, if for no other reason than to point out what the ground for pursuing this kind of case against this kind of crime might be.  Grayling writes,

Once again, the point is only partly to punish the perpetrator himself; it is as important to signal the continued resolution of society that there will be no hiding place — not even advanced age — for those who do serious harm to others.

Also,

It is easy for people to be swayed by considerations of personality in such cases as the Polanski arrest. In general the law does well if it addresses itself to individuals and their circumstances rather than imposing rigid blanket laws that contradict justice as often as they serve it, precisely because they ignore the special individual circumstances. But with the great crimes of rape, murder and genocide, prosecution and punishment are about society’s struggle to protect itself now and in the future against the worst aspects of its own members’ behaviour. There is room for a degree of compassion towards prisoners even if they have committed monstrous crimes, but there is no room for failing to punish the crime itself.

This leaves open the position that Polanski ought to be brought back to the United States for sentencing, but that his punishment once that’s done ought to be as light as it was likely to be when he was originally facing the court.  Perhaps as light as 48 days.


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