Wednesday, February 20

Supreme Court Justice Scalia has recently opined on the death penalty and, more specifically, a Catholic jurist's attitude towards it. He begged to differ with JPII on the legitimacy of capital punishment and said that any Catholic who agreed with the Pope shouldn't be adjudicating cases in which the death penalty is an option.

Brief thoughts, before I have to get back to work and finish That Darn Book. Today, by golly.

Emotionally, I'm all for the death penalty, especially when it comes to mass murderers and child-killers. At the time, I was willing to put Susan Smith in a car and push her in a lake to drown personally. Andrea Yates evokes the same emotion. But...

At the end of the day, I have to say no. My reasons are not particularly spiritual or high-flown, but they all come down to this: capital punishment isn't equitably meted out. It never has been, and it never will be. In contemporary America, your chances of being executed have much less to do with the crime you've committed than with a) your income , b) where you live and where your case is being tried c) who your victims were. To put it very simply, rich people don't get executed when they commit murder. Heck, rich people hardly ever go to trial when they commit murder.

To emphasize: I have no sympathy with killers whatsoever. I also think it's disingenous for Catholic death penalty opponents to pretend that the present opposition of the Pope to the death penalty isn't a bit of a departure from the bulk of Catholic tradition on the subject. But what we have to remember is this: aside from issues of justice for crimes (a sticky philosophical matter), the death penalty was a part of past society's for one essential reason: Most societies didn't have the means to protect themselves from dangerous criminals aside from killing them. We have those means. And we should use them.

In reflecting on this Andrea Yates case, I see how our discussion about what to do with her would be simplified by taking the death penalty out of the equation. It's obvious the woman should be locked up for the rest of her life, and have her mental illness treated so some day, the reality of what she did can settle into her consciousness and haunt her for the rest of her days.

Quick thoughts. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised, considering the title of her second book was Bitch. Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the aforementioned tome and Prozac Nation, has weighed in on September 11.

"I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting," Wurtzel told a Canadian journalist last week about her experience being near Ground Zero on Sept 11. "People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me."

Wurtzel - whose debut book "Prozac Nation" is being made into a movie starring Christina Ricci, while her follow-up, "Bitch," flopped - also declares that when her mother called to tell her a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers, "My main thought was: What a pain in the ass."

She may not have been moved by the horrific spectacle of the massacre but, in retrospect, Wurtzel says, the towers' destruction "was a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance. It fell like water. It just slid like a turtleneck going over someone's head. It was just beautiful."

Summing up her feeling post-9/11, Wurtzel muses: "You know what was really funny? After the fact, like all these different writers were writing these things about what it was like, and nobody bothered to call me." Of course, she says, "I don't want to tell other people's stories."

The New York Post has the article. (Link will only be good today.)

A fascinating, witty police log published in the Northern California weekly the Arcata Eye. I thought it was a joke when I first start reading it, but evidently, it isn't.


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