Friday, January 22, 2010

Hating People: Not a Good Idea

I wouldn't like to have someone telephone me, and direct my attention to a burning cross in front of the home of one of my relatives.

I wouldn't like that at all.

Legislating Beliefs / Protecting the Innocent

Allowing hate to determine beliefs and actions isn't, I think, a good idea.

But I'm not convinced that 'hate crime legislation' is a good idea, either. It's too close to establishing legal controls on what people think. Crimethink, anyone?

On the other hand, I think I understand why intent is sometimes considered in criminal cases.

Like this:
"Louisiana Man Convicted of Civil Rights Violation in Connection with Cross-Burning"
Press release, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Orleans (January 22, 2010)

"Daniel Earl Danforth of Minden, La., was convicted yesterday by a jury in Shreveport, La., of a civil rights conspiracy, use of fire in the commission of a federal felony, and obstruction of justice in connection with a cross-burning near the home of an interracial couple in Athens, La., the Justice Department announced.

"Sentencing has been set for April 14, 2010. At sentencing, Danforth, 31, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years for the civil rights conspiracy; 20 years for obstruction of justice; and an additional 10 years for use of fire.

"At trial, evidence revealed that on Oct. 23 or 24, 2008, Danforth agreed with his two cousins to build, erect, and burn a cross near the homes of a cousin and her African-American boyfriend (now husband), and other relatives who approved of their interracial relationship. Danforth and his co-conspirators built the cross using two pine trees, wire or cable, and a large nail. One of Danforth's cousins then went to get diesel fuel to use to burn the cross. Meanwhile, Danforth and his other cousin transported the cross to an area adjacent to the victims' homes where, using chainsaw gas, they set the cross on fire in order to intimidate the victims. On Oct. 26, 2008, Danforth telephoned a relative who was living with the victims and directed her to the location of the burned cross...."
The press release doesn't mention the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacists: but let's face it. Anybody who's lived in America during the last century is going to associate burning crosses with the KKK.

There's a reason for that.

Earlier in the 20th century, the KKK had used burning crosses as a sort of propaganda weapon against people they didn't approve of. By the sixties, those burning crosses had become emblems not only of the KKK, but of opposition to the civil rights movement. Which is another topic.

That illustration was made in 1928, by the Reverend Branford Clarke. It was, according to the Wikipedia description page, an "illustration in Heroes of the Fiery Cross".

I think the good reverend deserves credit for putting that "THE BALLOT" label on the Klansman's club. Very civilized of him.

Most - many, anyway - Americans probably know that the various iterations of the KKK weren't all that happy with black people being free. Or being around, for that matter.

The KKK's Attitude Toward Catholics, Jews, and Other 'Furriners'

What isn't as obvious to someone immersed in American culture is the Klan's attitude toward Jews, Catholics, and other people who weren't just like them. (Jackson 1992 ed., pp. 241-242. Jackson, Kenneth T. (1967; 1992 edition). "The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930." Oxford University Press, as cited in a Wikipedia article)

I would be upset about white supremacists' expressed hatred toward blacks, even if that were the only group they despised.

But I think it's okay to point out that some cliques of 'real Americans' are none too well-disposed toward other groups, too.

This was Too Weird Not to Mention

While researching this post, I ran into some - strange - ideas. Like this, in a page explaining the (alleged) Satanic origins of the KKK: "...the Catholic Church, run and controlled by the Jews had control of nearly all of the wealth and power..."

Whether the person who put that online really believes it, or it's some sort of practical joke, I don't know. And yes: I checked. the domain for that page is registered by an outfit in the United States.

As with so many other odd beliefs, there's a germ of truth there.

The Catholic Church is controlled by a Jew: and was founded by one. Jesus of Nazareth's mother and foster-father were both Jews. My Lord made no secret of his Jewishness.

I'm just glad that gentiles can join His outfit. (just a thought: check out Galatians 2, and read the whole chapter)

(more: "'Catholics and Muslims along with the fake Jews all are Satanic Cults' - Who Knew?," (April 2, 2009))

But That Couple was Living in SIN! How Can I Defend Them?

Yeah: I noticed that the couple had been living together before they were formally married. Not the best idea, I think: but putting a burning cross in their front yard isn't the right approach.

I've been over this sort of thing before:

"Catholicism Does Not Teach Hate

"I don't expect to convince true believers of contrary philosophies, but the Catholic Church doesn't teach hate. There are Catholics who hate others - and sometimes themselves - and some of them may believe, ardently, that the Catholic Church is on the same page as they are.

"They're wrong.

"The Catholic Church has some markedly counter-cultural beliefs about sin: for starters, that it exists. But hating a sin is not the same as hating a sinner. I wrote about that in connection with the supposed object of hatred in this crime, earlier this year. (March 13, 2009)

"I know: there are wack jobs who say that they're Christian and appear to have very little going for them except hatred for a short list of preferred targets: blacks, Jews, foreigners and Catholics often make the list. (October 2, 2008) But I don't assume that they're any more representative of Protestant Christianity, than politicos like Pelosi are representative of Catholicism. (March 8, 2009)

"And yes: these little 'First Church of Holy Hate' groups generally teach hate of homosexuals, too...."
(August 1, 2009)
There was a fellow in America, not too long ago, who killed a number of people because he thought they were having sex, the wrong way.

Oh, right: I've written about that, too:

"Having Sex With People You're Not Married to and/or Animals Isn't Nice

"The Catholic Church has made no efforts to conform the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium, to contemporary social fashions. One thing the Catholic Church is rather picky about is restricting people's sex lives to members of their own species - who they are married to. (2380, Leviticus 13:24) (The Church's concern for animals doesn't end there: Catechism 2417, 2418, for starters)

"To hear some people talk, you'd think the Catholic Church was against people having any fun at all.

"Murder isn't Nice, Either

"As I've written before, 'murder isn't nice, and you shouldn't do it.' (July 23, 2009) Not even if you're killing someone who's doing something you don't particularly approve of...."
(July 24, 2009)
Back to the question in the heading: how can I defend that couple?

It doesn't matter that the Church doesn't approve of shacking up without getting married first. Those folks are people who are due the same respect as anyone else: and who should have a reasonable expectation of safety in their home.

A burning cross on the lawn, given America's history, tends to make people who aren't 100-percent White Anglo-Saxon Protestant a bit uneasy. And I should think it would give a WASP cause for concern.

The 'interracial couple' angle? With my family connections, that really isn't an issue.

Catholicism and Emotions

I'm a very emotional man: but I didn't become a Catholic because of feelings. One thing that appealed to me about the Church was that you didn't have to be emotionally charged up to 'really believe' by Catholic standards.

On the other hand, Catholics can be as emotional as their nature permits - provided that they decide to make good use of their emotions.
"In themselves passions [emotions] are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, 'either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place obstacles in their way.'44 It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason.45

"Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1765)
Bottom line? By themselves, emotions aren't good and they aren't bad. But we're supposed to use our emotions, not the other way around. That's where morality comes in.
"The term 'passions' refers to the affections or the feelings. By his emotions man intuits the good and suspects evil.

"The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger.

"In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appetite, there is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as they engage reason and will, there is moral good or evil in them.

"Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or perverted by the vices.

"The perfection of the moral good consists in man's being moved to the good not only by his will but also by his 'heart.' "

Why Do I Reject Racism? I'm Just Following Orders

It's easy for me to assume that people should be accepted as people. Even if they didn't look just like me. But even if it weren't I'd do so.

Because I'm a Catholic, and it's in the rules.
"The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
"Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design."40
Not to seem confrontational, but if you've got a problem with that: don't take it up with me, talk to God.

Vaguely-related posts:

A tip of the hat to FBIPressOffice, on Twitter, for the heads-up on the press release.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.