Three updates, a disappointment, and an uplifting finish

Remember Zahra Baker, the little North Carolina girl with multiple disabilities who went missing last year and whose remains were ultimately found scattered in a rural area?  Well, surprise, surprise, the stepmother has admitted to murdering the girl and has been sentenced to “up to” 18 years in prison.  Do you believe that?  Why is she ever going to get out?  The little girl’s not going to be back among us, and neither should the stepmother be.

Casey Anthony has been ordered to pay back almost $100,000 to Florida law-enforcement agencies that investigated her bogus claims that her daughter was missing while, she now admits, she knew that the little girl was actually deceased.  Once again, it’s not enough, but it’s better than nothing.

(By the way, another Florida murder case is making news this week, the case of a man accused of murdering his wife who claims that the wife actually committed suicide by shooting herself in the face.  It’s still early in the guy’s trial, and we haven’t seen all of the evidence yet, but I can tell you at this point that shooting herself in the face would’ve been an extremely statistically unusual way, especially for a female, to commit suicide.  Hopefully none of the Anthony jurors made it back onto this jury!)

And remember Susan Powell, the Utah mother of two who went missing while her husband, the only “person of interest,” says he was on an overnight camping trip with their two toddlers, in freezing temperatures?  On Wednesday, authorities announced the discovery of some human remains that they thought had a “50/50” chance of being Powell’s.  It looks like they may have jumped the gun, though, because then on Thursday, they backtracked and said that no human remains had in fact been found.  Guess we’ll have to stay tuned.

Now this isn’t an update, but while I’m here, I have to tell you that I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that longtime Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson had opined that a wife’s Alzheimer’s Disease was an acceptable reason for her husband to divorce her.  If that’s true, and multiple sources say it is, then it’s extremely disappointing and really undermines Robertson’s credibility as a proponent of family values.

When it comes to issues like gay marriage, Robertson professes to believe that marriage is a sacred institution, so it’s tough to understand how it could get less sacred if one of the spouses gets sick.  I don’t much like religious bases for public policy positions in a society like ours, made up of people with many religious traditions, but I do like consistency.

If, for example, Robertson had said that he’s not for gay marriage because the government’s only valid reason for sanctioning marriages is to promote the birth of children into wedlock situations (so that it’s less likely that those children will end up wards of the state), and because everyone already has an equal right to marry someone of the opposite sex, there’s no reason for the government to get involved in the love lives of those who don’t want to exercise that right, that would be a secular rationale.  So if he then said that marriage is a contract that’s not important to enforce once people get too old to have children, or if one of the people is physically or mentally incapacitated, then at least he’d be consistent.

Maybe Robertson himself was having an Alzheimer’s moment if/when he actually said that one spouse’s illness justified the other spouse’s abandonment.  (And even if viewed in a strictly-secular way, every time I’ve heard a marriage contract recited, it’s had “in sickness and in health” — or something to that effect — in it.)

And finally, another uplifting finish:  A 23-year-old U.S. Marine named Dakota Meyer received the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest honor for bravery, on Thursday for having repeatedly reentered the crossfire during an intense firefight in Afghanistan, in defiance of orders to stay back, ultimately rescuing 13 fellow Marines and 23 Afghan soldiers.  I hope that parents share Meyer’s story (in age-appropriate ways of course) with their kids, because I think there’s a lot more worth emulating about this guy than there is about most of the athletes and entertainers whom our culture, far more regularly, encourages kids to emulate.

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