Daily Archives: July 12, 2014

False convictions and DNA: “Guilty until Proven Innocent”?

This is kind of off topic, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while. We often hear, especially in reference to the death penalty, that people convicted of crimes and later “exonerated” or “proven innocent” by DNA evidence. The following statistic gets to what I’m thinking:
“In almost 50 percent of DNA exoneration cases, the actual perpetrator has been identified by DNA testing.”
This is a perfect example of phrasing. One could just as easily say, “In less than 50 percent. . . . ”
The only way to “prove someone innocent” is such “Perry Mason” type situations: DNA cannot “prove someone innocent” unless it proves someone else guilty. Showing that DNA samples found at the crime scene do not match the suspect doesn’t mean he or she wasn’t there; it just means they found no samples to verify his presence. I read somewhere that, at any given time, there are probably hundreds of DNA samples on a shoe. DNA evidence is based upon matching up the random samples of hair, skin, bodily fluids, etc., to the suspect. A lack of DNA or other evidence means legally “not guilty”; it does not mean “innocent.”
However, on the other hand, it speaks to how the theory is supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty,” but in practice most of us think the opposite.

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They’re not just “Pelvic Issues”

Some people on the Left, in the “Center” or whatever, say that Catholics like me who prioritize abortion and family-issues are “obsessed with the ‘pelvic issues'” and disregard the Church’s teachings on economics or other life issues. While that is true for *some*, there is a difference between disagreeing about interpretation or prioritization and disregarding them. I’d contend that both “Parties” in the US get the Church’s economics teachings wrong, and that’s a whole other issue.
Here, I’d like to address the annoying insistence on “Pelvic issues,” which is a slightly more superficially polite way of resorting to crudity or of insinuating some Freudian double meaning.
First, abortion is not a “sexual issue.” Abortion is a life issue. It’s about killing, and the recent attempt by a National Catholic “Fishwrap” columnist to turn pro-life rhetoric around to say that alleged global warming should take priority notwithstanding (again, another time), there is nothing that can match 3,000 legal homicides a day, as I have represented previously.
Abortion is only “about sex” to those who do not want to recognize the rights of the victim.
As for contraception, divorce, redefinition of marriage, etc., the Church teaches these issues are important because they impact the family. Catholic “Social Teaching” is often presented, even by the Popes, as striking a balance between “subsidiarity” and “solidarity,” and those in turn are often applied as the Catholic equivalents of being “left wing” and “right wing.” Solidarity says government and individuals owe a responsibility to the “common good,” to helping one another out. Interestingly, the workers’ movement known as “Solidarity” in Poland was credited with politically bringing down Communism in Poland and, by extension, the Soviet Bloc. On the other hand, “subsidiarity,” which I often write about, says that the family is the basic unit of society, and that whatever can be accomplished close to the family “level” should be. From the Compendium

185. Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church’s social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical[395]. It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth[396]. This is the realm of civil society, understood as the sum of the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groupings, which are the first relationships to arise and which come about thanks to “the creative subjectivity of the citizen”[397]. This network of relationships strengthens the social fabric and constitutes the basis of a true community of persons, making possible the recognition of higher forms of social activity[398].

It goes on to discuss how it is unjust to deprive smaller social units of the rights proper to them, that the purpose of higher levels of organization is to foster and support the lower levels, etc. The Compendium is such an easily accessible and relatively short document that every Catholic interested in politics should read it.

Wow! Here’s the Pope who called for Vatican II wearing the Tiara and being carried on a litter! It would be nice to see some of these external signs of papal authority return.

The whole point of Pope St. John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra is that Catholic social, economic and moral teachings go hand-in-hand, and require a commitment by people in all social strata. This is what the “common good” means. People must have their basic needs met in order to live full moral lives. Economically, society has to look out for families. What cannot be done at the local level must be done higher, but it is also wrong of government to usurp the power of localities or of private organizations to do good. This is why many Catholics interpret libertarianism as the most convenient ally of subsidiarity (though many also mistakenly equate the two).

“Abortion kills the common good.”


As Francis Cardinal George, OMI, put it:

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

“Common good” implies an understanding of “the good.” If society is fundamentally at odds with the Natural Law, then that has to be the priority of the “common good.” If “common good” presupposes Natural Law and understands money as a means to the end of promoting a moral society, and if subsidiarity is seen as government existing to support the family, we can see on the one hand why “old school” liberals are right about the “social safety net,” but we can also see why “family issues” must take priority over everything else. It matters to everyone when states declare that “husband and wife” must be replaced by “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” (or more). It matters to everyone when divorce is presented as an easy out to marital difficulties, and vows supposedly made under oath are easily broken. It matters to everyone when children, as C. S. Lewis warned in The Abolition of Man become reduced to property and status symbols of their parents.

Which is easier to deny?

Thought: if a conservative Catholic says that, for example, Pelosi, Biden, or Giuliani isn’t “really Catholic” because Catholicism is a set if beliefs, and one must at least nominally adhere to them to claim membership, secularists will insist that baptism and possible parish registration are sufficient.

On the other hand, if you respond to the claim that conservatives are racists and/or sexists by pointing out conservative figures who are women and/or minorities, it’s “Clarence Thomas isn’t ‘really’ Black,” or “The Little Sisters of the Poor are anti-woman.”

“Really” Catholic, and don’t dare suggest otherwise:
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These people are anti-woman:

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Alan Keyes, not “really” African American, and only a racist supports him since his conservative ideals, say the liberals, are too nuts for anyone to actually support:

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