Rehabilitation and Reformation

On Punishment, on Rehabilitation, of Statutes of Limitations, and on Why They Do Not Exist for Murder

By Ken K. Gourdin

Does it matter that someone who murders another human being, after having done so, goes on to live an exemplary life? In some ways, perhaps. But no matter how much good the murderer does, still, he is incapable of restoring that which was lost—that which he took. What of the good that his victim might have done yet, were his life not cut short? What of the myriad ways the loss of that victim impacts so many other lives?

As a priest in the Catholic Church, John Feit was a suspect in the 1960 rape and murder of a Texas schoolteacher, Irene Garza, then 25. Mr. Feit later left the priesthood to marry, and, after moving to the Phoenix area, developed a reputation for willingness to help, for volunteering for various projects in the church, and for helping many individuals and families in need.

Coverage of the case written by the Associated Press’s Terry Tang appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. It can be found at the following address (last accessed April ??, 2019): https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=3537772&itype=CMSID

If one of the purposes of punishment (including incarceration) is to rehabilitate an offender, is it possible for someone to be rehabilitated without going to prison, or without being subject to whatever punishment the law prescribes for a particular crime? Mr. Feit’s example seems to provide evidence that (at least in some cases) the answer to that question is yes.

But rehabilitation is only one purpose of punishment. Other such purposes are retribution (lest individuals or communities take matters into their own hands), restitution, incapacitation (preventing the individual from offending further), specific deterrence (inducing the punished individual himself to not offend further) and general deterrence (inducing others, by the example made out of this specific offender, to not commit similar acts).

Most crimes have a prescribed time limit beyond which charges may not be brought, which is known as the statute of limitations. The theory underlying the concept of statutes of limitations is that few crimes are serious enough that threat of their prosecution should be allowed to hang over suspects’ heads like the sword of Damocles—especially if an alleged perpetrator uses the time between the commission and the discovery of his crime to reform himself, to atone as best he can for his misdeed, and to be of service to others.

Such was the case with Mr. Feit, who, because of service to church and community and fellow human beings, is nearly universally hailed for his current character. However, there is no statute of limitations for murder, as well as for other serious crimes. The rationale for the lack of a statute of limitations is that no matter how much good a person does in the intervening years between his crime and its discovery, some crimes are so serious and their impact so devastating that he cannot undo the act; he cannot give back what he took; he cannot restore a human life.

As Ms. Garza’s family members point out in coverage of her murder, notwithstanding all of Mr. Feit’s good deeds and all of the people he has helped since, all the good in the world cannot erase what he did. Addressing Mr. Feit directly (though the chances that he ever would see my comment are virtually nil), I commented on the case as follows:

This simply goes to show, there’s more bad in even the best of us, and more good even in what some might consider to be the worst of us, than we might suspect. That said, as much as I laud the good you’ve done, sir, and as unfair as some might think it to be to hold you accountable for the bad you’ve done (since, clearly, you have “turned over a new leaf” in a way that even many who’ve claimed to be reformed would envy), while only God can weigh both the good and the bad you’ve done perfectly, it would not speak well of us as a society to allow you to escape justice for what you’ve done. That’s why there’s no statute of limitations on murder, no matter how much good you’ve done in the decades that have intervened since your crimes. If a judge or a jury chooses to accord your good deeds great weight when it comes to imposing a penalty for your bad ones, that’s their decision, but the fact is, you’ve denied them that opportunity for far too long. At the risk of trivializing your heinous misdeeds by invoking a cliche, it’s time to face the music.

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Julie Rowe

A Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Attracts Attention and a Following, Someone Characterizes the Church’s Response as “Let’s ‘Take Care Of’ This ‘Toots’” [His Words], I Call Him Out for Sexism, and He is Completely Mystified (Because Of Course, The Church’s Response Would Be Completely Different if Sister Rowe Were a Man—NOT!)

By Ken K. Gourdin

Despite the fact that she is neither a prophet, nor a seer, nor a revelator in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor does she hold any position in the Church’s general leadership, Julie Rowe attracted a following in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for her “end times” predictions (my phrase).

Responding to reports that a senior leader in the Church of Jesus Christ was dispatched to speak with Sister Rowe, another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion wrote, “I could see that [i.e., could see why the Church of Jesus Christ might be concerned about someone like Sister Rowe attracting inordinate attention, attracting a following, and potentially leading people away from the Church]. “I’ll go take care of this toots right now.” (Did you catch that? That’s him putting blatantly sexist words into the mouths of Church leaders—which, of course, is completely okay because everyone already knows that the Church and its leaders are sexist anyway, right?)

And I responded, “But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sexist/misogynistic/pick-your-pejorative, not you, right? If a man were doing the same things Julie Rowe has done, the response of the Church of Jesus Christ would be .… [Zzzzzzz], right?” 

He, of course, was mystified—as pots who call kettles black often are when the double-standard is pointed out to them. Addressing me by part of my screen name, he responded, “Huh? What are you talking about now, Kenngo?” (Apparently, the “now” is supposed to indicate that not only does he not understand what I’m talking about on this occasion, in fact, he seldom (if ever) understands what I’m talking about. Perhaps his frequent befuddlement is attributable to frequent instances in which he engages in pot-meet-kettle-ism and is completely oblivious that he’s the pot?)

I responded:

Never mind. My bad. Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are, ipso facto and res ipsa loquitur, sexist and misogynistic, they’re wont to say such things as, “Let’s go take care of this toots,” and no one should/would bat an eyelash. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled, on-topic programming. ([Referring to a previous thread on which the uber illuminati and uber-PC were mystified at complaints by The Great, Benighted, Unwashed, Clueless members of the Church of Jesus Christ would complain about the [alleged!] unwieldiness of the LGBTQIA-et-cetera-ad-infinitum-ad-nauseam initialism: What letters is it supposed to include, again? Perhaps we should cover all of our bases by writing LGBTQIABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ?] Weren’t you a member of the PC Brigade who was complaining about those who were bemoaning the unwieldiness of the L***********************… [initialism]? So, on the one hand, it’s horribly un-PC to complain about that, but on the other, no one should bat an eyelash that you put sexist language in the mouths of the Brethren????) 

[COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH] DOUBLE-STANDARD [COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH] HUGE-BLIND-SPOT [COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH] MOTES-AND-BEAMS [COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH-COUGH]…

Sorry. 

Can’t imagine where that frog that suddenly jumped into my throat came from.

Our dialogue continued, with him responding, “I don’t care if you bat eyelashes,” to which I replied, “Of course you don’t.” He wrote, “I find your questions so loaded ...” (ellipses mine), and I responded, “Of course you do.” He wrote, “I don’t even know what you want from me,” and I responded, “Of course you don’t.” He wrote, “I can’t answer [your questions] because they are so far afield,” and I responded, “Of course you can’t.” He wrote, “If the joke hurt your feelings, just say so.”

And I responded:

Awwww … does [screen name redacted] fink he hut my widdo feewings?  That’s precious! ;) “Come on, Ken! It was just a joke! ‘Lighten up, Francis!’ :rolleyes: I have my Uber-Illuminati card which allows me to look down my nose at you for your light-hearted banter regarding the L******** initialism, on the one hand, while putting blatantly sexist language in the mouth of one of the Brethren, on the other hand.” (This, when the fact that Julie Rowe is a “toots” (your word) has precisely nothing to do with how anyone in leadership would respond to her end-times hyperventillating which has drawn her such a following: They would respond exactly the same way if “Brother James Rowe” were doing the same thing!!!)

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NBA Offense and Defense

On NBA Defense (Is There Such a Thing?), and on the (Should-Be-Illegal/Are-Illegal-For-SOME) Moves Some Offensive Players Use to Thwart It

By Ken K. Gourdin

Rudy Gobert, (Should-be-All-Star) center for the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz, is putting up career numbers this year, both offensively and defensively. Alas, many consider defense—especially in the NBA—to be passe. (Among other reasons, that’s why Mr. Gobert didn’t make this year’s All-Star Team).

And then there are the (Should-Be-Illegal)* moves which offensive players employ to thwart the defensive efforts of stellar defenders such as Mr. Gobert, as I pointed out in response to a feature on Mr. Gobert’s defensive prowess in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News.

See the News’s feature here (this and other links last accessed March 29, 2019): https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900055107/jazz-center-rudy-gobert-among-nbas-last-of-a-dying-breed-that-values-defense-not-just-highlights.html. For a GIF (short video clip) of James Harden’s double-stepback/travel against the Utah Jazz’s Ricky Rubio, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ5dWY-Ut_4

From the article: “In an era where . . . Houston’s James Harden has turned his step-back into a thing of beauty, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is one of the few who continues to receive lump sums of money for his work on defense.”

James Harden has a wicked [illegal] double-stepback move. Mere mortals, even NBA mortals, would be called for traveling if they did the same thing, but Mr. Harden is no mere mortal. (Or perhaps according to NBA rules (unique in all of basketball), it’s only traveling if a player is moving forward.) And if the double-stepback doesn’t work (since it isn’t traveling when he does it) he also has a wicked triple-stepback move. (That’s not traveling, either.) And if, by chance, Mr. Gobert, with his 7’9″ wingspan and his 9’7″ standing reach, presents a danger of blocking Mr. Harden’s shot, Mr. Harden can always break out his wicked quadruple-stepback move. (Remember, it’s not traveling when he does it.) And if that doesn’t work … I predict that, eventually, we’ll see Mr. Harden attempt a shot from midcourt after executing a wicked sextuple-stepback move to successfully evade the blocked-shot threat Mr. Gobert poses.

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Reid suit against device maker

Harry Reid Sues Maker of Theraband Device Over Injuries He Sustained While Using It

By Ken K. Gourdin

Former Senator (and Senate Majority and Minority Leader, respectively) Harry Reid (D – NV) was injured further while using a Theraband device in an effort to rehabilitate himself from injury, and has sued the device’s purveyors for those injuries.  I hold absolutely no brief for Senator Reid.  While his comments were not the only (nor even the primary) reason why Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election for President of the United States, they certainly didn’t help.

It’s not as though I don’t think there were any substantive criticisms that, fairly, could have been leveled against Governor Romney.  I don’t think that’s true of any politician, whether I agree with him or not.  Anyone having such criticisms is welcome to bring them forward so they can be debated in the public square and in the marketplace of ideas.  Senator Reid’s “He-hasn’t-paid-any-taxes-in-ten-years” rumor and smear (make no mistake: that’s what it was, and that’s all it was), however, was a horse of a completely different color.

For coverage of Senator Reid’s suit in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, see here (last accessed March 30, 2019:

I commented:

I don’t wish Senator Reid any ill will. (I may disagree with almost every word that comes out of his mouth, but I don’t wish him any ill will.) If the device failed to perform as intended or if its purveyor failed to provide adequate information about proper use, or if its purveyor failed to warn users of potential defects, the defendant(s) should be held accountable for those failures, and Senator Reid, like any other wronged Plaintiff, should be duly compensated. If, on the other hand, a reasonable person would not have used the device in the manner in which Senator Reid used it, the defendant(s) should prevail. Neither amity nor enmity toward Senator Reid should play any part in the proceedings. I assume this case is being heard by a jury, and I have faith that properly instructed, conscientious jurors can sort it out.

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Whom Should We Follow?

On Ensuring That an Organization We Choose to Follow is Worthy of Our Adherence, and on the Truth Claims of the Church of Jesus Christ Vis-a-vis Other Faiths

By Ken K. Gourdin

Another poster responded to the foregoing post by cautioning that first, one should ensure that the organization he chooses to follow is worthy of such adherence. In many ways, that decision is a subjective judgement.

I responded:

Of course, I think adherence to the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the best thing going, faith-wise. If I did not, of course, I would not be a Latter-day Saint. As I indicated, if anyone were to ask me why I believe that being a Latter-day Saint is the best thing going, I hope I would be ready with an answer. However (and I’m fairly certain you agree, Scott; I’m simply pointing this out for any observers of the dialogue) I cannot demand that anyone accept my paradigm. To do so, rhetorically, would be the rough equivalent of attempting to impart Living Water through a fire hose set at full blast. In general, I think, with only the rarest of exceptions, that, whatever one’s faith, a life of faith is deeper, richer, more meaningful, and, in many ways, more productive than a life without faith. Though, as I also said, even if one is not religious, if he believes in doing good to and for others and in making life as good as he can make it for himself and for those around him for as long as he can before (from his perspective) succumbing to the void, more power to him. That glass is at least half full; half a loaf is better than none; [insert-cliche-here]; et cetera.

Later, I added:

Largely (in fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any exceptions off hand at the moment) what is worthy of one’s adherence is a decision only he can make. I may disagree with that determination. If he asks for my opinion, I might point out factors I think are relevant to the decision, but unless, somehow, it violates the law, infringes upon the rights or the welfare of others, and so on, that will be the end of my involvement, as it should be.

Another poster asked, “Is it possible for a faithful member of the Church to believe it is the best thing going without believing it is the only thing going?”

I responded:

While I do believe there are certain unique features of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which set it apart from other faiths, I believe that God is pleased when sincere believers of many faiths (indeed, when those of most all faiths) do their best to do what they believe he wants them to do: “Inasmuch as men do good [and that includes men and women of varying faith traditions, as well as sincere men and women who profess no faith, but who believe in making life as good as they can make it for themselves and for those around them before (from their perspective) “succumbing to the void”] they shall in nowise lose their reward” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:28).

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Latter-day Saints and Mind Control

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a(n Alleged) Mind-Control Organization

By Ken K. Gourdin

A poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion said that one of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (he didn’t clarify the leader’s position) told members in a meeting he attended that they should heed leaders’ words whether or not any “revolutionary” announcements ensue from the faith’s upcoming 179th Annual General Conference, to be held in Salt Lake City UT on the first weekend in April. Another poster responded, “This is pretty dangerous advice and falls into the realm of a mind control organization.”

I responded:

Perhaps. I can understand why someone who believes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is simply a JAMMO*, and/or who discounts divine influence, might hold such a view. On the other hand, it’s not as though that particular concept is exactly new: It has been promulgated practically since the dawn of the Restoration (cf. Doctrine and Covenants 21:5). [Referring to Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 21:5 reads “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”]

*JAMMO = Just Another Man-Made Organization

Another poster asked me if I believe that Doctrine and Covenants 21:5 applies with equal force to each (and to all) of Joseph Smith’s successors. He referred me to verse 4, as if the verse somehow brings that prospect into question. Verse 4 reads, “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me.”

I replied:

I’m not sure I understand your question. If I need confirmation that something the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whoever he may be) says comes from God, I’m welcome to seek that confirmation from The [purported] Source myself, with the caveat that, per Isaiah 55:8-9, God may see fit (whatever His reasons) to reveal only the what to me rather than the why, telling me, essentially, “Yes, Ken, you did indeed hear my voice through President Russell M. Nelson, so I want you to do [x].” (Your mileage probably varies, and that’s fine, but, personally, I’m OK with that.) If we knew all of the “whys” in addition to the “whats,” whence the need for “patience and faith”? Also, cf. Moses 5:6, see also vss. 7-8.

The first poster to whom I responded then wrote, “Lots of organizations claim to be God’s one true path or have the ultimate path to God and such.”

I responded:

If one feels his belief system is wanting and if he solicits my input (or indicates a willingness to be receptive if I offer my input), I hope I would be ready and able to follow the counsel in 1 Peter 3:15 to “sanctify the Lord God in [my] heart[ ], and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh [me] a reason for the hope that is in [me], with meekness and fear.” (Other translations render that “meekness and fear” as “gentleness and respect.”)

Conversely, if he does not find his belief system wanting, I would encourage him to be the best adherent he can be to whatever belief system he espouses, would hope that such adherence fills his soul and makes him happy, and I hope he would return the courtesy. Even if he is not particularly religious but is determined to make life as good as he can make it for himself and for those around him for as long as he can do so before (from his perspective) succumbing to the void, I would wish him well in that endeavor. There is no religious limitation on Doctrine and Covenants 58:28.

Then, he wrote, “Many of them [i.e., organizations which employ mind control techniques] use the same techniques to influence and control their adherents.”

I responded:

That statement seems a bit abstract to be useful, but even if I grant, to a certain extent, its truth solely for purposes of this discussion, in order for anyone to exercise control over a particular aspect of my life, first, I have to surrender or to grant the person or entity seeking to do so the control which that person or entity seeks. (In the words of Doctrine and Covenants 58:28, I am “an agent unto myself.”) While I recognize that your mileage varies, from my perspective, the only thing I have left to surrender to God that He did not give me in the first place is my will. [I didn’t include this link in my reply, but, for more on this, see here: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/on-submitting-my-will-to-gods/.%5D 

And even if I discover that another person or entity has exercised unwarranted control over me or over my life, the good news is, once I make that discovery, instantly, I become (just as I was before I fell under that person or entity’s influence) “an agent unto myself.” Once that happens, I then can ask, “Ergo, what?” Do I start an Anti-Organization Organization? Do I say, “Boy! Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? Do I find another organization that is more to my liking, that better fills my soul and makes me happy? The point is, however I might feel about what has happened to me up to this point, while I may not have been able to choose my circumstances before I became aware of the person’s or the entity’s efforts to exert control, once that awareness does dawn, I can re-exert control and can then choose my circumstances and my response (constructive, or less so) … or I can proclaim myself a victim. But, in any event, that choice is mine.

Then, he wrote, “Some [methods of mind control, and/or the organizations which use such methods] are more egregious than others.” Perhaps I should have simply responded, “Yep! You got us! We’re all simply a bunch of mindless sheep! Shut ‘er down, Clancy! She’s pumpin’ mud! Will the last person to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints please turn out the lights?”

Instead, I wrote:

As a general proposition and in the abstract, again, I’ll grant, for purposes of this discussion, the truth of that statement. Its applicability in specific instances, however, is challenging. There is no shortage of people who feel that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has exercised unwarranted control over them and over their lives. They are entitled to that opinion. They can find something else that better fills their souls and makes them happy, or they can proclaim themselves victims. Again, either way, that choice is theirs. Of those who no longer consider themselves members of the Church of Jesus Christ, in a way, the ones I respect most are the ones who say, in essence, “I bear the Church and its adherents no ill will, and I don’t regret my membership. It simply wasn’t for me.” In any event, I wish them well.

Discussing the degree to which he feels the Church of Jesus Christ exercises mind control over its members, he wrote, “On a scale of 1-10 I think the LDS Church [sic] is at least a 6. In some areas maybe a 7.”

I replied:

Only a 6 or a 7? C’mon, man! Get with the program! Other people think it’s a 10, or a 12, or even a 1,000! They would say that you have no idea how controlling the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is! I’m sure your “6 or 7” is meaningful to you and others’ “10, or 12, or even 1,000” is meaningful to them. You’re all entitled to your opinion, but unless those numbers are arrived at in something of an (at least somewhat) empirical fashion, they’re unlikely to have much utility or generalizability in a broader discussion.

Then, he wrote, “And Understand [sic] the technique I criticized has been used from [Joseph Smith] down the line. That doesn’t mean its not a mind control technique.”

I replied:

OK. Granting that assertion as true for purposes of this discussion, another person or entity has exactly as much control over me as I choose to cede to that person or entity. If I choose to not cede that control, it’s still mine. If I discover, much to my chagrin, that the person or entity has exercised what I believe to be unwarranted control over me, once I come to that realization and reclaim the control I ceded previously, it becomes mine again.

Then, he wrote, “Take a look at this book are articles from its author. If you really have the One True and Living Church what do you have to fear? [Link deleted].”

With all due respect, while I’m sure your mileage varies, in my experience, generally, that sort of technique is not employed by people seeking to engage in good-faith dialogue. There are lots of reasons, perfectly good, valid, sound reasons, and reasons having nothing to do with “fear,” why others might decline your invitation to study material you recommend to them. We all have limited time, limited attention span, limited cognitive ability (however brilliant we may be), differing priorities and interests, and so on. The “what-are-you-afraid-of” taunt, seems, to me, to be not much more (if, indeed, it is anything more) than a cheap attempt to poison the well.

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More Word of Wisdom Thoughts

More Thoughts on the Word of Wisdom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

By Ken K. Gourdin

In connection with the thoughts contained in the posts I linked to in yesterday’s post about the spiritual power of covenant keeping for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, here is another post on the same (or at least on a similar) subject I recently made at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion:

Does the Word of Wisdom make members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distinctive?  In some ways, yes.  Does it promote good health?  Yes, but to say that it is about either of these things, or even to say that it is about both of them, still misses the mark.  Is it simply an excuse for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to look down their nose at anyone who doesn’t obey it?  Perhaps some few odd ducks do view it that way, but they’re only the rarest of exceptions.

As I’ve written here before, not everyone who doesn’t obey the Word of Wisdom is an addled drug addict or an irresolute drunkard, but no one who does obey it is.  But the real power that comes from keeping the Word of Wisdom is that those who do so have covenanted to keep it, whether at baptism, in the Temple, or both.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Word of Wisdom shares more than a few similarities with something that happens at a key point in the Endowment Ceremony [a sacred ceremony performed in Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which members make equally-sacred, special covenants to obey the faith’s tenets].  (Yes, that’s cryptic!  Intentionally so!  Live with it! :D )

 

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