Archive for March 2008
Good morning, Netizens…
I was not going to fire this thread up until I had time to adequately prepare myself since I knew, from having read several of his rather profound messages in the past, that Casey King would certainly bring an alternative opinion to this discussion thread, but would probably also make me think a great deal about my past involvement with organized religion and theology in general. Short of figuring out how to migrate three critical and challenging messages that Casey put forth yesterday to this thread, I felt our discussions merited a venue of its own, a potential seed for future discussions.
First, so that there are no misconceptions, I spent two years studying at Chicago Theological Seminary, first as a summer volunteer (my grandmother helped set this up) where I worked extensively in the heart of the ghetto with disadvantaged kids while residing at the seminary, which was my first major involvement with racial issues and theology. Then, once I began classes at the University of Illinois Circle Campus in 1965, again deferring to my gracious grandmother’s wishes, I enrolled in several classes at the Theological Seminary. Subsequent to several other life-altering events, including running out of money, I left the seminary after two years, and eventually transferred out of the University of Illinois entirely.
Since that time, nearly 40 years ago, I have been involved in a number of different theological and philosophical events, and since 2000 have been uninvolved in any Spokane-regional organized religions, regardless of their philosophies or names. The only exceptions to these rules are I am still a practicing Buddhist, a theological misfit in that I tend to keep the counsel of only a few, and that I generally avoid discussions regarding comparative religions. My only totem to religion as far as education goes is that I hold a minor in Far Eastern Studies.
In this case, I will make an exception to the latter simply because I have known and participated in some of the Chicago African-American congregations we may be discussing, and I feel that some of the participants in this blog will make this thread one of the most-controversial, vibrant discussions of its kind and, hopefully, a learning experience for some.
Good morning, Netizens…
I found the following item adorning the web site of one of the “other” newspapers online this morning, and it caused me to consider both the implications of the paragraph, as written, and if the paragraph should be rewritten, how else would you convey what happened?
Here is the paragraph, taken from one of Seattle’s finest online newspapers:
A mechanical failure was to blame in a crash Wednesday morning that left a
Now, before we wrap our fertile intellects around this question, I’ll admit I understood the writer’s intention from reading the paragraph. I did not suffer visions of rescue workers lining up for an opportunity to exchange fisticuffs with one another in order to be the first to extricate the poor driver. I also admit that the rescuers probably did everything in their power to quickly and safely remove the driver of the Waste Management Truck from the mangled ruins of his truck.
Here are some questions for consideration:
Should the paragraph be rewritten, something along the line of, “…garbage-truck driver trapped inside his vehicle for an hour as crews sought to extricate him, police said.”?
It’s food for thought.
In another universe, I wondered how many readers had an English composition teacher in high school who punished students for poor sentences by smacking them on the back of the head with a oak meter stick? Of course, teachers do not do such things these “enlightened” days. Could it be possible that a lack of fear makes such gaffes possible?
Well, here we go again! Another visit to the five-thirty in the morning panic zone, brought to us courtesy of The City of Spokane Street Department, the loveliest, sweetest-smelling street department in town. Climbing up Grand Boulevard during this morning’s snow storm was truly a test of the theory of gravity, with various vehicles sliding backwards, sideways and in some cases, stopping in the middle of the road. My rider thought perhaps that one poor stranded driver on the approach to Sacred Heart who was sideways on the hill, was merely waiting on a city truck to come along and spray deicer on the slick roadway.
Unfortunately, while on Grand Boulevard, it was nearly 7:00 o’clock before I saw a plow rumble through the intersection of Twenty-ninth and Grand, and by then it seemed all so predictably familiar. So what if the calendar says it is Spring in the air, and the City is struggling to come up with a way to patch our woeful streets? Even in the Spring of the year, when it snows, we need a working solution for steep approaches to the South Hill that can be deployed quickly.
Good morning, Netizens…
Try as I might, I simply cannot fathom the logic behind the juror who sent flowers to Clifford Helm. Of course, there are several parts of the trial itself that defy my logical limitations. Most recently, it defies my logic or my imagination why jury forewoman Rebecca Backstrom sent flowers to Clifford Helms after the members of the jury found him not guilty of killing the five Schrock children. At very least, one would think, that she would have felt the motivation to send flowers to the Schrock family care of their Mennonite Church near Deer Park.
Granted, the trial was a long and arduous affair for all concerned. The judge did not allow the jury panel to review the really icky parts of the crime scene, the dead children laid in a row in the barrow pit, because the defense attorneys objected. To some degree I understand that the sight of mangled children’s bodies most certainly would drive most people into demanding retribution of some kind. Hankies would have necessary for the entire court room had those grisly pictures made it into the public record.
Granted, to most people peering in at the legal process from the outside of justice incarnate, the Defense argument that Helms passed out from a coughing fit while behind the wheel was a bit specious. Let us simply call it, for the sake of the argument, a clever contrivance, and after all, isn’t that what high-priced lawyers are paid to concoct?
There is one legal matter which, although my source might be incorrect, had the prosecutor filed charges of involuntary manslaughter against Helms rather than vehicular homicide, Clifford Helms would have been remanded into the custody of the unsmiling jailers for a period of time with no hope of legal contrivances. Instead, having been found not guilty of homicide, he was given a get-out-of-jail free pass, and all charges were dismissed. Something is wrong here. If you kill five children in a horrific car accident, you are guilty of, at the very least, involuntary manslaughter. You do not get a floral bouquet if you are convicted of such a crime. You get a lovely set of chrome-plated handcuffs and a trip to the penal system. That is logical, and therefore should be justice.
My other argument has always been and will always be that justice discriminates in favor of those who have the financial well-being to pay their own attorneys’ fees, as well as to pay various high-priced consultants which certainly played a role in the Helms’ trial. The poor are unfairly incarcerated. Moreover, if you are a working stiff living paycheck to paycheck, and you kill five children in a horrific car wreck, you probably will fall on the graces of the Public Defender and thus, your defense is marginal at best. Particularly if you are naively unaware of the intricacies of the legal system, you probably would talk to the investigators from the Washington State Patrol after the accident, and your goose would be cooked in fairly short order. Logic thus suggests that Helms beat the system with a combination of keeping his mouth shut, good fortune and good legal representation. Is that logical? Ask O.J. Simpson. Is it fair? Who said logic was always fair in a court of law? I submit money talks louder in a court of law than logic or even factual evidence, and I submit that is wrong, logical perhaps but wrong.
As for Rebecca Backstrom’s gift of flowers, logic tells me that, were she capable, right now she would probably not send flowers to Clifford Helms’ family if she conceived of the public outcry her actions would trigger. It would have been emotionally laudable, entirely logical and defensible had she sent flowers, instead, to the Schrock family members.
Granted, Clifford Helms’ life will never be the same, but then neither will the lives of the five Schrock children.
Of course, your results may differ.