Bloggers debate whether jurors should have been allowed to consult the Bible in a Colorado death penalty case. They also discuss Zimbabwe's upcoming elections and novelist Ayelet Waldman's public declarations of love for her husband, novelist Michael Chabon.
Bible thumped: Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court preserved "a lower court's decision throwing out the sentence of a man who was given the death penalty after jurors consulted the Bible in reaching a verdict." The court said that jurors should have decided the fate of Robert Harvey, who raped and murdered a woman 10 years ago, "without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts."
On Reason's Hit & Run, Jacob Sullum writes, "Unless there is evidence of corruption or bad faith, respect for jurors' independence should preclude an inquiry into the source of the moral values they bring to bear in making their decisions. (Surely biblical wisdom often plays a role--acknowledged or not, read from the text or recalled from memory--in death penalty deliberations.)" Anti-death-penalty Christian blog WalloWorld agrees: "Excluding religious texts - which really relate to a philosophical perspective or worldview - seems to be an arbitrary exclusion. Do we likewise exclude non-religious philosophical debate over the death penalty?"
"Hey, sorry. Rules are rules. Just because you're a bible-thumper doesn't mean you're exempt. 'No outside materials' includes the bible, just as it'd cover any other collection of ancient parables and myths," shrugs stickler Cableshow. "This decision shows that the Consitution, not the Bible, rules in criminal court," crows liberal crime blog TalkLeft. Noting that jurors consulted the "eye for eye" sections from Exodus 21 and Leviticus 24, liberal Ded Space claims, "The purpose of the ancient Hebrew texts was to restrain retaliation, not encourage it. But let's not ever let fake fundamentalism interfere with scholarship." Pro-jury El Borak'sMyopia insists that "the courts more and more are overturning the work of juries" because "juries get in the way of what the court wants to do."
Read more about the court's decision.
Zimbabwean prevolution?: On Sunday, an archbishop called for a "peaceful uprising" in Zimbabwe, which will hold elections on March 31; at least 20,000 people attended a rally opposing the ruling party. "Here's a very safe prediction: Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, will cheat. Why not? He's done it before and gotten away with it," prognosticates conservative blogger Austin Bay. Bay wonders, "If Zimbabwean democrats try a 'Ukraine option,' will South Africa provide the regional support and the EU the international support it will take to avoid a bloodbath? Likewise, violent strikes against protesters would test the Bush Administration's 'pro-democracy' doctrine."
On NormBlog, political science professor Norman Geras writes, "Along rutted tracks winding between failed maize crops, one person after another held up open-fingered palms and said 'chinja' or change, the slogan of the opposition." This is Zimbabwe, the blog of a "civic action support group," describes television coverage of rallies in support of ruling party ZANU-PF: "The hilarious element of their riveting reports was that in three of the rallies they showed the same footage of dancing, singing women - boy, zpf women get around the country fast!"
Read more about Zimbabwe.
The Amazing Adventures of Ayelet and Michael: In Sunday's New York Times, novelist Ayelet Waldman confesses that she really, really loves her husband. The unnamed object of her affection: novelist Michael Chabon. Waldman writes, "I could think about how our sex life - always vital, even torrid - is more exciting and imaginative now than it was when we first met. … But I don't. I am far too busy worrying about what's wrong with me. … Why am I the only one incapable of placing her children at the center of her passionate universe?"
"Today's epistemological question comes via The New York Times' 'Style' section: Can a woman stalk her own husband?" muses sassy Gawker. "Well, he was once one of People Magazine's '50 Most Beautiful People' (and we did compliment his looks recently), but c'mon! This is just creepy."
Cynical parent Baboon of Magnesia asks, "Can't she love both husband and kids equally, but in different ways? I have a feeling she's just trying to generate some internet buzz so that she can get an interview with Terry Gross." I Love Books suggests that the couple is the "Billy Bob Thornton/Angelia Jolie of the Literary World."
Earlier this month, Waldman wrote a piece for Salon about using her blog to let Chabon know she was suicidal. "I have a lot of respect for writers like Ayelet Waldman who are more honest with their readers than they are with themselves," grad student St. Nate responded.
Read more about Waldman.
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