As reported at the International Herald Tribune:
Susan Atkins was a leading character in one of the most horrific chapters in California history.
On Tuesday, the former follower of Charles Manson sought to end her story on her own terms: by being allowed to go home. The state parole board denied that request.
Atkins, convicted in the slayings of the actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969, is dying of brain cancer and asked that she be granted compassionate release from prison.
Her husband, James Whitehouse, argued that she was so debilitated that she could not even sit up in bed. “She literally can’t snap her fingers,” he said. “She can put sentences together three or four times a day, but that’s the extent of it.”
As reported at the LA Times:
Now ill with brain cancer, with one leg amputated and the other paralyzed, Atkins has only months to live, doctors have said.
Ok, so let’s take a look at what we have here. I found this case very interesting and challenging. How do you properly balance our innate instinct of revenge with our other innate instinct of compassion? How should these feelings play, if at all, in the state’s decisions and actions? Those are the questions that I keep pondering without being able to find a satisfactory answer either way.
On the one hand we have a frail old woman, ravaged by cancer, one leg amputated who has very little time left to live. She’s not asking for forgiveness for what she’s done, all she’s asking is that these horrible circumstance be taken into account and she be granted a little bit of leniency. Are we as a society at a point in our development where feelings of revenge overpower feelings of compassion and leniency? It looks like the answer to that question is an emphatic yes, and that saddens me.
The state should not be in the business of revenge. That is one of the main reasons why I oppose the death penalty. Either way, the state is supposed to be an unbiased, impartial third party. The way I see it, imprisonment should be viewed not as punishment, but as removal of violent individuals from society in order to prevent them from committing other crimes. From this point of view it is hard to see how an argument about this lady “not deserving” to be let go makes any sense. Such argument is fueled by our feelings of revenge, and while it is acceptable at a personal level, it cannot be acceptable when the state is involved. Alas, the state is made up of individuals who bring in their own prejudices. There is really no way to escape that.
Pam Turner, a cousin of Sharon Tate, recalled the pregnant actress’ return to the United States, and dreaming of helping her with her baby.
Then she spoke about wanting to die after finding out that Tate and her unborn son had been stabbed to death.
“I was a child, but I was so sick with grief that I wished I too could die,” Turner said, sobbing. She described how Tate’s mother, her aunt, “howled like a wounded animal.”
And she recalled how her late aunt had been overcome with emotion when Turner became pregnant herself.
“She once put her hands on my pregnant belly and just cried,” she said. “She didn’t have to say what she was crying for. I knew. She was looking right through me and seeing Sharon and what could have been.”
The pain and grief are undeniable. But how does denying this sick, dying person parole lessen the pain in any way possible? Is it going to undo what happened? Are those feelings that this lady felt years ago going to vanish, erased from her memory? I am sure this lady will feel a little better after parole was denied, but the State itself is not supposed to have feelings. But if that was the case, then the prisoner couldn’t make the case for clemency either, now could she? I told you I had mixed feelings about this.
So on the one hand, I think that, given the circumstances mercy is warranted. I think every human being has some dignity by virtue of being human, regardless of their crimes. That is why I oppose the death penalty and that is why I think that under these circumstances, it hurts no one to grant this women parole.
On the other hand though we must worry about the precedent this would set. Does that make it acceptable for anyone on their death bed to ask for mercy? What if it is not such a clear cut case? What if instead of impending death within a few months, you have a longer period of time? Where do you draw the line?
However, besides the practical issue, I see another bigger issue. That of the whole idea of the life sentence. The point of the life sentence is that the person end their life in prison. Lifting the life sentence for a dying person, defeats the purpose of having it at all. Dying is a painful, horrible process cancer or not. If we make an exception for her, why not for a really old and frail person? If that was the case then we should do away with the life sentence altogether, and I don’t like that idea.
Confused yet? Good because i am myself. I don’t have a clear answer to this question, but if I had my shoulders to the wall, like the members of the panel did, I most likely would have voted to grant her parole. People it is better to be compassionate and forgiving than vengeful. I know I sound like a televangelist, but hey I’m not asking for you money!
The Pope is in Australia for the World Youth Day and he is supposed to apologize for:
decades of sexual abuse of children by priests.
Apologize? That’s it? This is the equivalent of catching a kid with their hands in the cookie jar and letting them go with an apology. Well, come to think of it most parents will do just that, but you get my drift. Usually a crime is followed by a suitable punishment. If wide spread sexual abuse involved any other institution but a religious one, would we expect such leniency? Of course not, they would be persecuted like you wouldn’t believe, but no, not the Church. The Church has been covering up such abuses for decades and all they have to do is say “sorry” and they’re home free. Am I the only one who is disgusted that even child sexual abuse can be overlooked by the authorities if the Church is involved? Fucking disgusting!
The United Nations has consciously and of its own choice turned itself into Islam’s whore, when they choose to decide that criticizing Islam, and religion in general, is unacceptable, unless you’re a religious scholar.
Muslim countries have won a battle to prevent Islam from being criticized during debates by the UN Human Rights Council. Religions deserve special protection because any debate about faith is bound to be “very complex, very sensitive and very intense”, council President Doru-Romulus Costea said Wednesday.
While Costea’s ban applies to all religions, it was prompted by Muslim countries complaining about references to Islam.
They’ve shown just what cowards we are relying upon to deal with the most pressing problems humanity faces. The Human Rights Council has nullified and completely ignored the most basic of human rights, freedom of speech. Say what you want about the US but at least here we have freedom of speech to a degree unparalleled in most countries in the world. Apparently a homeless person in the streets of New York has more freedom to express his opinion than members of, arguably, the hightest council concerned with Human Rights in the whole world.
So what if such debate will be “very complex, very sensitive and very intense”? Isn’t that why these guys are there, to tacke complex and sensitive an intense issues? They’re not in charge of trivial things for Allah’s sake, at the contrary they are in charge of what is probably the most important of all of human endeavors, the protection of the rights we have by virtue of being human. What will the decide not to talk about next? Genital mutilation is bound to be very controversial and create great discomfort to the delegates from the countries that practice it. So let’s scratch it, the UN Council of Human Rights won’t touch it, because these cowards are afraid of intense debate. Maybe genocide, forced child labor, slavery, racism, sexism, all sort of culturally “justified” discriminations will be off limits as well. No sir, we woldn’t wont to talk about things that will offend people, especially religous people.
Political correctness is cowardice! The UN Human Rights Council members do not deserve to be endowed with such a great responsibility, and all the recognition and benefits that flow from such membership, if they are willing to take such absurd abuse of the mast basic human rights without raising a voice of disent. They should be ashamed of themselves if they take this standing down.
The moral repercussions of curbing freedom of speech in order to protect people’s lunacy are unimaginable. It takes a lunatic to even think that this is the right, moral thing to do. It appears Mr. Doru-Romulus Costea is a lunatic.
- One dead donkey, 15 child brides-In Pakistan a dead donkey has sparked a feud between clans, which has resulted in 13 deaths over 8 years. It was finally settled …by 15 child brides between the ages of 3 and 10 ! – 15 human beings to settle an argument over a dead ass! Unbelievable!
- American school teaches that it is ok to kill – Text books at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, and that Muslims are permitted to take the lives and property of those deemed “polytheists.” – They have a poll on the website asking if this school should be shut down. What do you think?
- Smart people less likely to believe in God – Professor Lynn, who has provoked controversy in the past with research linking intelligence to race and sex, said university academics were less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else. Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence – and their intelligence increased – many started to have doubts. – Ok, ok besides the fact that we’d like the results to be true, let’s be fair and point out a couple of things. First of all this was just a survey, not an actual study of any sort. Second, he did not measure IQs, he simply deduced that piece of information. So, while most atheists I’ve met tend to be smart, I do know quite a few that are dumb as bricks, so I’m not sure there is a direct correlation there.
- Unlicensed Chiropractor kills man – A 76-year-old man operating an unlicensed chiropractic clinic out of his Oak Park, Calif., garage is suspected of killing one of his patients with a neck manipulation, according to Sacramento police. – Now I don’t want to pick on chiropractors, but when I read the word “unlicensed” it made me laugh, until I read the rest of the story. But seriously, does the word “licensed” even make any sense before words such as chiropractor, homeopath, accupuncturer?
- Licensed chiropractor paralyzes woman – A woman who says she became paralyzed after having her upper spine manipulated is suing the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors and the provincial government for half a billion dollars. “[I want] chiropractors to stop neck manipulation,” she says in the video posted on YouTube by rabbletv.ca. “Look what you did to me.”- I told you the word “licensed” is meaningless when it comes to quacks!
- Gay brains similar to oposite sex brains – The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex. – Oh shit, you’re telling me they’re not immoral? Now how are they supposed to burn in hell for eternity, if it’s not even their choice? It has got to be wrong!
- Norway law legalizes gay marriage – Gay couples in Norway will be granted the same rights as heterosexuals to marry, adopt and undergo artificial insemination under a new equality law passed Tuesday. – I always said that the Nordic countries are way up there when it comes to being civilized societies. They enjoy a level of open-mindedness and democracy, we can only dream off in the USA, or so I’ve been told, and this bit of news reinforces that belief.
- Careful what you wear in Iran – Police closed dozens of clothing stores and hairdressers and stopped cars and pedestrians in a crackdown on women who do not abide by Iran’s strict Islamic dress code and men wearing fashions seen as too Western, Iranian media reported Monday. – Closing down shops, even arresting people for their clothes? Hmm, and we are supposed to believe that their uranium enrichment is for generating electricity?
- Saudi woman arrested for driving to pick up her husband –She was stopped by a police patrol after driving six miles to collect her husband near their home in the town of Buraida. As her ‘legal guardian’ he had to sign a declaration that he would not let his wife drive again. – Wow, crime must really be at a low in that part of the word, since policy got nothing better to do than arresting women for driving and wearing regular clothes.
- The Pope Cologne is here – We believe that we have succeeded in capturing the same fragrance that he and those around him enjoyed so long ago. This is a truly extraordinary cologne with surprising freshness and notes of violet and citrus. – Who the hell would want to smell like anyone from 150 years ago? Well it turns out these these people would. Weird, weird shit!
- Teacher who burned cross sign on student arms fired – The school board of a small central Ohio community voted unanimously today to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students’ arms. Freshwater used a science tool known as a high-frequency generator to burn images of a cross on students’ arms in December, the report said. Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on several students and described the images as an “X,” not a cross. But pictures show a cross, the report said. – I say they should use the same device to burn “666” right on his forehead, but I think I’m being too harsh….nah I’m not, he deserves it. There’s more to the story. Apparently that’s not it. A lawsuit has been filed. The allegations assert that during the 2007-08 school year Freshwater violated the United States Constitution as well as the policy of the Mount Vernon School district, and has not been disciplined for those violations. According to the complaint, previous to April 2008 Freshwater displayed the Ten Commandments, religious posters and Bible passages within his classroom and kept several Bibles in his classroom which were not for his personal use. The suit further states that Freshwater taught intelligent design as early as 2003 and told students that information in the textbooks is wrong or not proven according to the Bible.
- State to regulate religious beliefs – In Indonesia that is. The president, who is up for reelection, signed a decree ordering members of a minority Muslim sect to stop practicing their form of Islam or face arrest. “Although the wording of the decree did not explicitly ban the group, it warned Ahmadiyah members that they were no longer free to practice their beliefs and strongly encouraged them to “return to mainstream Islam,” according to Bonaventura Nainggolan, a spokesman for the Indonesian attorney general.” The funny thing is that freedom of worship is part of their constitution. Hm, we are allowed freedom of worship under our own constitution too. Creepy!
- Muslim student receives apology for church graduation – A Muslim student who sued because his public high school graduation ceremony was held in a Baptist church has received an apology from Newark’s school district and assurances that it will not hold future events in houses of worship.-That’s nice and everything, but how many of us think that an atheist student would have received the same treatment! None, eh?
- Over half of Yemeni brides under 15 – Over half of women who marry in Yemen are under 15 years of age, said a field study conducted by Yemen’s Women and Development Study Centre, which is affiliated with the University of Sanaa. On top of that, in rural parts of Yemen, girls usually get married at an average age of 12 to 13 years old.- Now what the fuck are these people smoking over there? This is pretty seriously messed up shit and the term child abuse doesn’t do it justice. This is a tragedy!
- Same sex marriage? How about no marriage – Ann Barnett plans to stop performing ceremonies for all couples in Kern County as of June 14. Barnett’s announcement came after she received advice from county lawyers that she could not refuse to marry only couples of her choosing. – Oh, I see, she wanted to discriminate just some people, but the law wouldn’t allow her so she decided to discriminate everybody. I think Ann Barnett should move to Yemen, given her “moral” beliefs!
- Egypt bans female circumcision -Egyptian parliament on Saturday approved a law to ban female circumcision except in cases of “medical necessity,” according to an amendment of a bill on children’s rights. – We can’t praise such action enough. Two thumbs up to Egypt for taking a step in the right direction. Congratulations! There is still hope in this world after all.
- Imagine no religion…in Denver – The Freedom from religion foundation (of which I am a proud member) continues to make news with it’s “Imagine no Religion” billboards campaign, this time in Denver. At least I know my membership money is being spent wisely. Keep it up FFRF!
- Friday the 13th safer than “regular” Fridays – Dutch statisticians have established that Friday 13th, a date regarded in many countries as inauspicious, is actually safer than an average Friday. “I find it hard to believe that it is because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home, but statistically speaking, driving is a little bit safer on Friday 13th,” CVS statistician Alex Hoen told the Verzekerd insurance magazine. – Well, I’m glad that is settled!
- 3 genital mutilation victims can stay in US says NY court – A court ordered the U.S. government on Wednesday to reconsider the asylum requests of three women who suffered genital mutilation in Guinea, saying it was “deeply disturbed” their claims were not taken more seriously. – I mean who the hell is reviewing such cases? How can people ignore such circumstances? Female genital mutilation is crime against nature and we should do whatever we can to help the victims, not act as if their pain and suffering is made up. Thank goodness the courts have some common sense in them!
- Couple charged in Norway for mutilating daughters – Police in have arrested a Gambian-born man and charged him and his wife with subjecting five of their six daughters to genital mutilation, officials said on Friday.The youngest of the five mutilated girls, all born in Norway, is five years old, police officials said. The others are aged seven, 10, 13 and 14 and live in Gambia, national broadcaster NRK reported. Their youngest, age three, has not been subjected to the procedure, NRK said. – I can comprehend how a parent can willingly subject their child, their own flesh and blood, to such merciless, cruel procedures, all in the name of some fucked up morality code. These people are not parents, they’re monsters.
- Widow throws party to bribe her way into heaven – A rich 80-year-old Indian widow has spent thousands of dollars on a feast for 100,000 people in the hope it would please the gods and open the doors of heaven for her, local officials said.People from surrounding villages and towns were fed lunch over two consecutive days by Phuljharia Kunwar, who spent $37,500 on the feast. – At least something good came out of this woman’s stupidity. Lots and lots of people got fed for two days.
- 74% of Congressional Republicans disbelieve in global warming – As if we needed another reason not to vote Republican!
- Christian group asks California appeals court to temporarily prohibit gay marriages – Oh yeah, that makes sense. Let’s “temporarily” suspend laws we don’t like, until we hope the time comes that they are repealed. Then why the hell is there a law in the books if it can be temporarily suspended? I suggest another group can ask the California appeals court to temporarily suspend the law that gives people the right to ask for a law to be temporarily suspended. How’s that for a catch 21?