Something Rotten in West Memphis August 19, 2011Posted by Matt in news.
Tags: Alford Plea, arkansas, Eddie Vedder, justice, West Memphis 3
As you might expect, the big news today in the Memphis area is the release of the West Memphis 3 after 18 years in prison for a crime that they likely did not commit. It’s been quite interesting to read about this sudden change in the Arkansas Judicial System, which convicted these three as teenagers all those years ago, putting one of them on death row and the other two in prison for life, despite the ineptitude of the West Memphis Police Department and the lack of evidence against them.
Though I agree that it’s about time justice was finally served, I can’t help but be disappointed in the state’s actions in this matter. According to reports, they were given the opportunity to take what is called the Alford Plea, a guilty plea in criminal clourt where the defendant asserts their innoncence, but admits that evidence exists by which the prosecution could convince a judge or jury to find them guilty.
According to some I have heard talk about this (again, not confirmed), they walk free today, but this would make them unable to pursue legal action against the state of Araknsas for making them spend 18 years behind bars for a crime of which they are likely innocent. Thus, the state gets off free and clear, and they do not even have to expend any effort to find the real killers. It stinks, but I can’t say I blame the WM3 for taking the deal after spending so long behind bars.
The Moral of the Story? Listen to Eddie Vedder more often.
Losing My Religion – Part 2 May 28, 2009Posted by Matt in Losing My Religion.
Tags: church of christ, eternal punishment, god, hell, justice
or, And Justice for Some
As I grew older, better read, and perhaps even a little wiser, the notion of eternal punishment began to bother me more and more. Could it be that this once all-important, doctrine that was rapidly becoming philosophically untenable was not real?
It has been said time and time again that our God is a “just” God, that His/Her judgments are righteous and pure and perfect and above reproach. God is the grand arbiter of all things who will one day separate the sheep and the goats, sending some to an everlasting party and the others to the eternal frying pan. So, using my mathematical mind, I tried in some way to measure an average life expectancy of around 75 years against infinity and, regardless of how hard I tried, the two just would not reconcile.
Could it possibly be considered “just” to torture somebody for all eternity for the actions and decisions they make over a finite period of time?
It just does not compute. Weighing finite against infinite does not work and therefore the extreme reaction (in this case, a judgment to eternal punishment over an infinite time period) cannot be reconciled with the action (a finite number of decisions made in a finite time period). And, yes, I know that “His ways are not our ways,” but it still seems inexcusable from the vantage point of justice.
In addition to those who choose riotous living and thus condemn themselves to eternal damnation, we run into the problem of birth. What about those who are born outside of Alexander Campbell’s small sphere of influence? What about those who devote their lives to Islam or Hinduism or, God forbid, the Baptist church or Methodist church? Could they possibly escape the fire despite their “false teaching?” Is it “just” to condemn those who have never heard or those who have been taught “wrongly?”
But, I’ll get more into that last paragraph later when we talk about radical exclusivism.
Deconstructing Jesus – pt.3 February 21, 2008Posted by Matt in deconstruction, philosophy.
Tags: deconstruction, Derrida, justice, law, undeconstructible
So, as we have seen earlier, the philosophical idea of Deconstruction tells us that all that experience is but a metaphor that we interpret according to our own way of viewing the world. The reality all about us is then constructed by us according to prior experiences and learning.
Derrida, though, did make a concession of sorts for some things were actually “undeconstructible.” In his view, justice is the undeconstructible condition that would make deconstruction possible. Where laws are mere human constructions, there is an underlying concept of justice. Laws are calculable and in the real world while justice as a concept is incalculable, but present in some unreachable realm. Derrida, though, would not place justice on the idealistic plane similar to Plato’s forms, instead he would call it indeterminate. To him, justice is “a justice in itself, if such a thing exits, outside or beyond the law.” Between the two, law and justice, is that condition of deconstruction, which bridges the gap. Then, a deconstructive reading of the law would flow from your or anyone else’s own experiences and presuppositions with the ultimately unachievable goal of justice.
But, the most important concept in this illustration is that there does exist something that may be deemed undeconstructible.
Next: Reading the Bible with Derrida