Bringing closure

In Hidalgo County, Texas, an 85-year-old ex-Priest has (finally) been convicted of murdering a beautiful and accomplished Latina, Irene Garza, in 1960. The Washington Post story ritually pronounces “closure” before probing “why so long?”

What is this “closure” that gets trotted out in news and commentary after every murder conviction?

It’s some relief that I’m not the only one asking, though until I Googled it, I feared I was. Here’s one exploration:

The idea of closure is powerful. It’s something Arkansas invoked in an April 15 motion that tried to fight a temporary restraining order that McKesson Medical Surgical, Inc., has used to block the use of its drug vecuronium bromide in state executions. (The drug is typically used as general anesthesia to relax muscles before surgery).

“The friends and family of those killed or injured by Jason McGehee, Stacey Johnson, Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams, Bruce Ward, Ledell Lee, Jack Jones, Don Davis, and Terrick Nooner have waited decades to receive some closure for their pain,” it read.

But even when executions take place, a surviving family’s pain doesn’t disappear with the perpetrator’s pulse.

Death penalty advocates and politicians, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, argue that when the state executes a person who has committed a terrible crime, the act brings closure to victim’s family. But it’s not that simple.

If you ask murder victims’ families, “closure is the F-word,” said Marilyn Armour, who directs the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s researched homicide survivors for two decades. “They’ll tell you over and over and over again that there’s no such thing as closure.”

Hypothesis: “Closure” is something politicians and society generally invoke to mask revenge (maybe there’s a better word) as altruism.

Alternate hypothesis from Mrs. Tipsy: It brings closure only to journalists, who don’t have to report on this case any more. (I should solicit her thoughts more often.)

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I would a thousand times rather have dinner with secular liberals of a certain temperament than with a group of religious conservatives who agreed with me about most things, but who have no sense of humor or irony.

(Rod Dreher)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Pervs, Predators, Rapists

I’m going to wade into the weeds here in a separate blog rather than sully another one.

If you read the original Washington Post story, you know it was rigorously reported, with great care and professionalism. Four women who did not seek out the press, who did not know each other, and who surely guessed going public would bring them nothing but grief, came forward and provided first-person details that established a pattern. Thirty people corroborated details. This is not attack journalism. It is great journalism.

If Roy Moore had a long and demonstrated history of randomly attacking children with a baseball bat, or if the FBI announced it had found in his possession a stash of child porn, Moore supporters would never back him. But that, in a way, figuratively, is what he stands accused of doing. His “porn,” his addiction, was cruising malls for young women, often teenagers. His “attacking children” was moving sexually on those young women and leaving them damaged.

Who were the girls he targeted? Interestingly, this tribune of the common folk and their earnest, believing ways allegedly preyed mostly on the unprotected. He chose young women he could push around …

A thing about predators, from the men of the Catholic Church sex scandals to the man cruising the mall, is that they never prey on the protected. They don’t prey on the daughter of the biggest family in town, the child of the man who owns the factory or the local newspaper. They tend to prey on kids with no father in the home.

Roy Moore targeted the deplorables. They were people with no sway, no pull. Some of them, in the presidential election, voted for Donald Trump.

There are better conservatives in Alabama than Roy Moore. Republican women, rise up and raise hell. That would be real loyalty, and to those who are really your own.

(Peggy Noonan, Alabama Women. Say No to Moore)

* * *

Power without character looks like [several examples omitted] … And it looks like the Christian defense of Moore, which has ceased to be recognizably Christian.

This may be the greatest shame of a shameful time. What institution, of all institutions, should be providing the leaven of principle to political life? What institution is specifically called on to oppose the oppression of children, women and minorities, to engage the world with civility and kindness, to prepare its members for honorable service to the common good?

A hint: It is the institution that is currently — in some visible expressions — overlooking, for political reasons, credible accusations of child molestation. Some religious leaders are willing to call good evil, and evil good, in service to a different faith — a faith defined by their political identity. This is heresy at best; idolatry at worst.

Most Christians, of course, are not actively supporting Moore. But how many Americans would identify evangelical Christianity as a prophetic voice for human dignity and moral character on the political right? Very few. And they would be wrong.

Many of the people who should be supplying the moral values required by self-government have corrupted themselves. The Trump administration will be remembered for many things. The widespread, infectious corruption of institutions and individuals may be its most damning legacy.

(Michael Gerson)

Apart from some vagueness about just who the defendant is, I’m on board with Gerson’s indictment.

Silver lining: this marks the moment that the defendant “evangelical Christianity” [in North America] has irrevocably forfeited the right to kvetch about compromises some Orthodox Clergy in Russia made to preserve the Church through the reign of Communism.

* * *

The religious right’s embrace of Trump … is not some kind of aberration in the transformation of a faith into a worldly and political cause, it is its logical consequence. The Christian right’s support for a sociopathic, cruel, and vulgar pagan was inevitable, in other words, from the moment the Moral Majority was born. If politics is fused with religion, and if your opponents are deemed evil, then almost anything can be justified to defeat them. Sooner or later, you’l find yourself defending the molestation of a minor. Which is why I have long refused to call this political movement Christian, but Christianist. It is not about faith; it is about power.

But evangelical Republicans are not, of course, the only group susceptible to such corruption. Democrats are human as well, as we have so abundantly discovered. Many of them have also made their political struggle into a secular form of religion, and found myriad ways to defend the indefensible because the cause demanded it. I vividly remember Gloria Steinem’s op-ed defending Bill Clinton’s sex abuse at the time (she still refuses to disown it). I remember how many wanted to conflate sexual abuse with private consensual sex. I also recall a bizarre very-Washington lunch in that period when, for some reason, I was seated next to Barbra Streisand (my first and thankfully last encounter with the singer). I mentioned Paula Jones’s lawsuit — which I’d just defended in the pages of The New Republic — just to see what she’d say. Streisand’s lip curled. “Ugh,” she scoffed. “She’s a little kurva.” I later discovered that this means “whore,” “bitch,” or “slut.” And that was by no means an unusual Democratic response of the time.

(Andrew Sullivan, The Danger of Knowing You’re on the ‘Right Side of History’)

Have we at last reached the end of whataboutism?

Sullivan then turns to admiring “Michelle Goldberg’s beginning of a reckoning with the toxic legacy of the Clintons.” Having dropped the New York Times a month or two ago, I have not used any of my free articles on Goldberg’s piece. I’m cynical about people “discovering” the evil of people who have passed from any real power.

I will not judge Goldberg—or Caitlyn Flanagan, or Chelsea Handler, or the rest of the growing throng—guilty of opportunism, though, because life’s too messy for that. Maybe Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and especially Roy Moore (who, like Bill Clinton, preyed on low-status women who could be dismissed as “little kurva”) actually opened their eyes.

If so, may their epiphany spread even further, multiply, and bear greater fruit than just a belated condemnation of the country’s most powerful power couple.

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Roy Moore

Conservatives, be careful. Don’t dismiss the claims. While I don’t know if the allegations are true, I’m deeply troubled on a number of grounds.

First, these women didn’t seek out the press …

Second, if you read the report, it includes validation from a number of witnesses who say that they were aware of the relationships at the time …

Third, the youngest accuser’s explanation for her decision not to come forward earlier rings tragically true …

While there is a danger of a witch hunt, the presence of multiple claims of misconduct from multiple sources should always make us pause — regardless of whether the alleged abuser comes from the Left or the Right. It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.

Roy Moore is a dangerous man who never should have received the GOP nomination. Republican primary voters selected as their champion a person who seeks to suppress the civil rights of his fellow citizens and defies the law whenever it suits his ideological and political purposes. Even before today’s allegations, he was unfit to be a United States senator. Now the question is whether he’s dangerous, unfit, and vile.

(David French, National Review)

This is the second damaging revelation about Moore since he won the Republican nomination in the special election to replace Jeff Sessions. The other is that he took a secret $180,000 annual salary for a part-time gig at a charity, despite his denials. There is no doubt that the media and the Democrats are gunning for Moore; there is also, now, no doubt that there is plenty of material for them to mine, beyond his kooky views and ignorance of the law.

The statute of limitations on Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct long ago expired, but there is no such thing as a statute of limitations on standards. Roy Moore is not a worthy standard-bearer for the Republican party, and his vulnerabilities are now endangering what should be a completely safe Senate seat.

(Unsigned National Review Editorial calling on Moore to withdraw)

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“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.