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Our de-evolving standards of decency

By Alisa Craddock
web posted June 30, 2008

There has been a great deal of shock expressed over the Supreme Court decision against the use of the death penalty for even the most heinous cases of child rape (Kennedy v. Louisiana), in which Justice Anthony Kennedy cited "evolving standards of decency" in the application of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment.  In addition, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority stated, "There is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape.  …Oh really?  And who did he poll to get that consensus?  The North American Man Boy Love Association?   I guess when no other excuse can be found to deviate from a strict adherence to the Constitution, a call upon our "evolving standards of decency" will accomplish the task. 

The only argument that had any merit was that, knowing he was committing a death penalty offense, a rapist might also kill his victim to ensure she cannot identify him as her attacker.  But child victims of rape rarely recover, and for that reason alone the option should have been left to the states, especially in a country suffering from an epidemic of child rape (see for yourself).  Many of these victims will never be able to trust in anyone, to have a normal, healthy relationship, to fall in love and get married and have a family--the one thing in life that makes life worth living, that makes it sweet.  Imagine Christ without His capacity to love.  If a man kills a child's capacity to love, the rapist has killed his victim as surely as if he stabbed her in the heart.  He kills her soul, her joy, her freedom. 

I am dumbfounded at the incapacity of people, some in very high positions, to recognize the connection between liberal social policies and the incidence of all rape, especially child rape, nor respond to the true depth of the injury that rape inflicts.  About 20 years ago I was dating a nice, good-natured man, an average fellow, and there was a story in the news about how many years a certain rapist had been sentenced to.  My friend  thought the penalty was too severe, that it should only be a year or so (this was not a child rapist, by the way).  I was shocked.  I asked him, "How would you feel if a man raped you?"  "I'd kill him," was his instant reply between clenched teeth.  "I didn't ask you what you'd do.  I asked you how you'd feel," I said.  He suddenly became very uncomfortable.  I said, "Suppose you couldn't kill him.  Suppose he incapacitated you, and tied you up so he could do whatever he wanted and you couldn't fight him.  How would you feel?"  He refused to confront his feelings, but kept insisting he'd hunt him down and kill him.  "So, if he does it to you, he deserves to die, if he does it to me, he deserves a year?" I said.  "But that's different," he said.  NO, IT ISN'T.  It's not sex.  It's an attack on the most intimate center of a person's being.  It's the most degrading, invasive violent attack on the very soul of a human being, violating their dignity, their innocence, their modesty, their self-respect, their self-possession, their feeling of safety.  An act of rape upon an adult may scar her/him forever.  But what it does to a child?  It's an evil that cries out to heaven for justice.  The fact is, people don't want to think about it, whether the victim is a child or an adult.  There is something about it so terrible that the mind avoids contemplating it.  That willful denial has caused no end of mischief in our culture:  Co-ed sex education that includes and approves of homosexual conduct, sexual situations and sexual violence constantly paraded across our television sets and movie screens, constantly pushing the limits of acceptable viewing in the name of art or commercial gain, kids in school instructed or encouraged to read reprehensible texts as "literature", a growing pornography industry, including simulated and real child pornography.  And, of course, abortion.  And these things have a cumulative effect of desensitizing us all to the horror of the acts of violence perpetrated upon the innocent, and the lingering, terrible pain it inflicts, and the psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage that is its consequence. 

But the people of Louisiana had enough depth of understanding of the terrible, permanent nature of the injury that they allowed for the death penalty for it.  Shouldn't our "evolving standards of decency" apply for the benefit of victims moreso than for those who perpetrate heinous acts of barbarity against the innocent?  Liberals pretend we have "evolved" beyond the traditional morality of the past, yet as we move further away from that tradition, we backslide into barbarity, and that perversity is more and more reflected, even supported, in our laws.  The increasing denial in our culture of the concepts of good and evil, and the supernatural concepts of saved and lost, is playing out in our "evolving standards of decency" that seem to treat villains as victims rather than evildoers.  Our standards of decency in this country are now practically non-existent.  So much for "evolution".  And our liberal court has just eradicated one more line in the sand that the common folk of Louisiana had recourse to in the ongoing battle against depravity.  Our culture has gradually "evolved" so that the least educated and least civilized among us set the standard for behavior and equality.   

That is not to say that Justice Kennedy and his liberal colleagues should resort to subjective arguments in making their court decisions.  I am saying that there are legitimate grounds in the constitution for permitting the use of the death penalty as the states and their citizens see fit.  (If there were not, Justice Kennedy would not have had to find something as ambiguous as "evolving standards of decency" and his invented "national consensus" against the death penalty for child rape.  It is time that our courts began reversing this desecration of our country's children, which are its future, and restored the respect for common sense moral values.  This, too, establishes justice, ensures domestic tranquility and promotes the general welfare. ESR

Alisa Craddock is a columnist and activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian.  She may be contacted at alisa.craddock at hushmail.com.


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