Updates

The John Edwards jury is in!  Mid-afternoon on Thursday, the media received notice that the jury had reached unanimity on one charge (that back in 2008, Edwards had knowingly taken money from an elderly heiress, intended to further his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and diverted it to his mistress) but was hopelessly deadlocked on the other five charges against Edwards.  The judge then gave the jury what’s known as an “Allen” charge, reminding them of the importance of their service and encouraging them to resume deliberations and attempt to reach unanimity on additional charges.  Well, before the afternoon was out, the jury again announced that it was hopelessly deadlocked, at which point the judge accepted the jury’s verdict on the lone charge and declared a mistrial on the remaining charges.  What was that lone verdict?  Not guilty.  This is bizarre — the jurors were in unanimous agreement that Edwards was not guilty of the charge on which prosecutors had the most apparently/compellingly-damning evidence, yet they were divided on whether he was guilty of charges on which the evidence was considerably weaker.  So what happens now?  Well, prosecutors could re-try Edwards on the five charges that divided the jury, but I don’t think that’s likely.  Bottom line, Edwards walks, just like I said was looking increasingly likely as the jury’s deliberations dragged out.

Remember the “Causeway Cannibal” about whom I wrote over the Memorial Day weekend?  It now looks like:  1) there was in fact some kind of synthetic hallucinogen involved, as I predicted, and 2) the victim is expected to survive, albeit with major facial disfigurement.  Well guess what else?  Canada appears to have its own cannibal, and this one’s still on the loose.  A former porn film actor is on the run after apparently videotaping himself murdering a man, sexually assaulting the corpse, dismembering the corpse, perhaps eating parts of the corpse (according to a blog that he apparently authored), and then mailing parts of the corpse to Canadian government officials.  As cannibal killers go, this guy seems different from C.C. down in Florida, though.  C.C. appears to have been deranged, voluntarily, on hallucinogens.  This Canadian cannibal, or C.C. II, on the other hand, appears more calculatedly psychopathic, which could actually make him even more dangerous to those who cross his path, so hopefully the Canadian cops catch up with him quickly.  (By the way, this isn’t Canada’s first experience with a cannibalistic killer — remember me talking on HLN’s Prime News a few years back about the guy who beheaded a fellow Canadian bus passenger and started eating the corpse?  That C.C. was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has recently spoken out about his state of mind at the time of the offense — he says he thought that the victim was…”an alien.”)

The U.S. House of Representatives failed on Thursday to get the 2/3 majority needed to pass federal legislation banning abortion for the purpose of gender selection.  So, while we apparently overwhelmingly agree as a nation that abortion for the purpose of gender selection is wrong, we can’t seem to get our elected officials to ban it.  Why?  They’re serious about banning super-sized soft drinks in New York City, but we can’t get serious as a nation about banning the abortion of a developing girl simply because her mother would prefer a boy?  And as I said yesterday, if we’re in overwhelming agreement that the developing girl has a right to live in that scenario, then it makes no sense that her right to live somehow disappears if the mother instead says that she simply doesn’t want to be a mother.  See where this is going?  So, when did we, as a nation, become so unwilling to stand up and say that certain things are wrong?  We didn’t start out this way back in 1776 — if Americans had been unwilling to stand up and say that certain things were wrong back then, we’d still be British subjects.  And we weren’t this way even as recently as WWII — if Americans had been reluctant to stand up and say that certain things were wrong back then, a lot of people living in Europe, Asia, and maybe even North America would probably be a lot less free than they are today (just imagine someone during WWII saying, “Well, I personally believe that genocide is wrong, but I don’t really want to say anything about it”).  I often tell my colleagues that a reliable, uni-factorial assessment of a person’s character alone would tell us all that we really need to know about the likelihood that the individual’s behavior has or will put the public at risk.  Part of having character is standing up for what’s right, and as a whole, I frequently worry that our nation’s character has slipped.  On the other hand, even though it’s apparently not the “no-brainer” that I think it should be, at least we’re now having a national discussion about whether we ought to allow abortion for the purpose of gender selection, so I remain hopeful that the proverbial pendulum is swinging back in the right direction.

[P.S.  Every time I say — based solely on secular logic, never on faith — that a developing human being in utero has a right to live, somebody asks me about some incredibly-rare circumstance in which a fetus has no chance of survival, and its mother can’t survive either unless the fetus is removed from her body.  So, while I maintain that nothing, not even the impending death of another person, justifies intentionally ending the life of someone who has a right to live, here’s how I analyze that hypothetical:  I analogize to a couple of people trapped in a burning apartment with no feasible escape route but with access to a fire extinguisher.  As one person grabs the fire extinguisher to fight the fire, a heavy piece of debris falls from above, causing that person to collapse on top of the fire extinguisher, unconscious, with a likely head and/or neck/spine injury.  At this point, neither person has any realistic hope of survival unless the injured person is moved (so that the non-injured person can get to the fire extinguisher), yet moving the injured person without professional assistance and equipment could very well be fatal for the injured person in and of itself.  In this situation, I think it’s morally acceptable for the non-injured person to move the injured person, as carefully as possible under the circumstances, in an attempt to extinguish the fire and save at least the non-injured person, if not both people (with no intent, of course, to kill the injured person).]

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