Crime, Definition and Punishment

Must juries adhere to the letter of the law? A referendum in South Dakota might mean the end of that standard Read the LA Times story.

There are many times and places where the literal application of the law creates an injustice. That is undisputable. However, what would become of justice if each jury were to decide for itself the standard of justice? The result would be chaos.

The time for consideration of a law’s appropriateness is during the approval stage; i.e., in the legislative bodies. Unfortunately, that process does not always work as citizens wish it would.

A case in point is this country’s war on drugs. Read some interesting factoids on recent prison population statistics.

Most people are against drugs, certainly. However, I doubt seriously if most people believe in either the sentences being handed out under the related laws or the number of people being incarcerated.

The result, in some instances, is that juries refuses to apply the law. Is that a problem with the jury or the law? Depending on the circumstances of the case, it could be either.

Consider why we are fighting this so-called war. Are the benefits of restricting trade in these products worth the cost, as expressed in terms of the effort itelf and its unintended side-effects? That’s the question Congress should be asking itself on this topic.

Deportation Best Option

Foreign nationals suspected of association with terrorists often cannot be formally charges. The U.S. seems to be using deportation as a method of disposing of these cases. Read the LA Times story.

In the days before 9/11, sending a seemingly nice person back to, say Pakistan, seemed like harsh punishment for nebulous rules violations. Now, it’s the best option available. As the Times points out, there’s too much expense and wasted time involved in tailing these people. They cannot be held in custody, either, realisitically, for any length of time without running into other problems.

There is no constitutional protection for these people’s immigration status. Better safe that sorry, as the cliche goes.

Mandatory Voting

Here’s a first: something worth reading in USA Today. The subject – making voting mandatory. Read their article.

Personally, I cringe at the very thought of who a law like this might bring to the polls; however, it’s a good idea. Obviously something needs to be done in the U.S. to get our citizenry to take personal responsibility for themselves.

It won’t be one law that turns the corner; it’s going to take a change in attitude. So why not start with this idea? A $20 fine would motivate a lot of people to get out to vote. Given the ease of absentee voting, it’s hardly an inconvenience and may prove quite interesting as a social experiment.

Another School Shooting

A student flunking out of nursing school opened fire in a class at the University of Arizona, killing 4 people. Read the story on Yahoo news.

Has this freakish behavior become part of the required curriculum for failing students? What ever happened to the good old days when losers like this went off to the woods alone and did themselves in without involving innocents in their melodrama?

Why is this happening more and more frequently? One oft-ignored reason is that nobody teaches kids how to fail with dignity anymore. Starting in grade school, students are passed along to the next grade, regardless of achievement. Competition has been de-emphasized and every child is reassured they are doing fine.

This is done by soft-hearted to protect the children’s self-esteem. There are two problems with this strategy. First, the kids who are not performing at an adequate level know it and quite naturally rebel against the hypocrisy. Second, these children end up with an over-inflated sense of “I” that inevitably is burst like a fragile bubble the first time they encounter real adversity.

The simple fact of the matter is that everyone is going to fail at some point in their lives, no matter how brainy and/or slick one might be. Just ask the whiz kids at Enron about this principle. Failure and disappointment are a part of life and people need to learn how to deal with it and move on in a constructive manner.

Russia Responds to Terrorists

Perhaps now that Vlad Putid and the Russians have had a taste of terrorist medicine they will take a more reasonable stance on Iraq. Putin needs a friend after his raid on terrorist hosting theater-goers hostage ended in the deaths of well over 100 of the hostages. Read the story on Yahoo news.

It’s regrettable that the situation ended in confusion and finger-pointing among the rescuers who, for the daring and bravery of the rescue attempt, will no doubt end up on the political skewer for trying to do the right thing.

At least our President Bush properly points the finger at the terrorists as the cause of the civilian deaths.

Snipers Caught

Presumedly, the entire nation now knows that the D.C. area snipers have been captured. Read about it on

Congratulations must go to the law enforcement task force for unravelling this mystery in a relatively quick timeframe. What if anything can we learn from this episode?

Lesson 1: there are bad people out there who will do bad things to people who are unable to protect themselves.

Lesson 2: Your children are not safe anywhere without you. See number 1 and pay attention to them.

Lesson 3: Our neighborhoods will not take care of itself. We must participate in the daily goings-on in them to disrupt the activities of the bad people and encourage those of the good.

Lesson 4: If someone wants to do bad things to you, law enforcement will not save you. It’s up to each of us to defend ourselves and our loved ones.

In recent times, the courts have taken many of our civil liberties away in this area, making Americans reluctant to defend themselves and their property. Change that in the voting booth. Take back your right to protect your home and your life by electing candidates who care about justice more than legal abstractions.

Lesson 5: review and understand lesson 4. It is up to citizens to make neighborhoods and this country safe. Law enforcement functions primarily to capture and punish perpetrators; stopping crime is secondary. What is your responsibility in that framework? Have you been meeting your obligations to your community? Think about it.

Korea “Allows” Kidnapped Japanese to Stay

North Korea says it’s OK for the Japanese citizens they kidnapped decades ago to stay in their home country. Read about it.

How nice. The Communists in Korea have ruined dozens of lives over this issue and now it’s acceptable to them to allow the victims to return home?

It should be no surprise that this nation uses its nuclear program as a bartering chip to get handouts from wealthy, peaceful nations.

Pink-haired Girl Leaves Fort Bend School

A girl who’s pink-dyed hair violated school policy has been moved to another school district by her parents. Read about it in the Houston Chronicle.

Although there’s nothing inherently wrong in dressing goofy or having a tragically bad hair day, the fundamental purpose of school is education. To the extent that an individual’s preferences interferes with the ability of others to be safe and to learn, the cause of the disruption should be removed.

Of course, individuals will feel slighted at a restriction of their rights. Therefore, a standard, enforced system of school uniforms should be implemented in every district in the state. In this way, all parties will be treated the same. Everyone will be unhappy.