Sheila Kennedy, a friend of The Show and one of the best bloggers in Indianapolis, had an interesting blog yesterday about Margaret Doughty, a woman who has lived in the United States for 30 years and recently applied for citizenship. When asked what apparently is a "standard" question on her application for citizenship, about whether she would take up arms to defend the country, Doughty answered:
"I am sure the law would never require a 64-year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person's life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms ... my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God ... I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so."
This is from Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.
Ms. Doughty was instructed by Immigration to provide "a letter on official church stationery, attesting to the fact that you are a member in good standing and the church's official position on the bearing of arms." As Ms. Kennedy points out in her blog, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution "not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion or state Church, but also prohibits government actions that endorse or sponsor religion, favor one religion over another, or that prefer religion to non-religion, or non-religion over religion." INS backed down in the face of threat of suit.
About three years ago I debated, on the internet, with a couple of people who insisted that any sense of morality must come from a divine source. In other words, atheists cannot be moral. As a human race we have derived a sense of morality over our existence. There are acts that are wrong in themselves. Murder is the prime example of such an act. I could list others, but for the sake of brevity, I will focus on that crime. I know of no society that sanctions "murder" by an individual. Murder is defined as "The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought..." Black's Law Dictionary, New Pocket Ed., 1996.Of course with that "unlawful" qualifier, the killing of human beings becomes non-murder when carried out by the government. The execution of an individual is the killing of another human being. "Malice aforethought" is defined as "The requisite mental state for common-law murder, encompassing any one of the following: (1) the intent to kill, (2) the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, (3) extremely reckless indifference to the value of human life (the so-called 'abandoned and malignant heart'), or (4) the intent to commit a felony (which leads to culpability under the felony-murder rule)." Id. This is rather circular. Murder is the killing of another human being with the mental state necessary for murder. If the State executes a person, it does so with the intent to take that person's life. Inherently, one could say, the State's act cannot be "unlawful" because it is the State.
The pope said a couple of weeks ago that atheists now can go to heaven. Presumably we now can be moral, too, at least in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. In the meantime, I have my doubts about the State of Indiana and its system of capital punishment. Maybe the State should become atheistic.
Today we will discuss the impact of the smoking ban on Indianapolis's bars. Guest panelist will be Brad Klopfenstein of the Indy Tavern League. We shall be at Road Dog Saloon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our long-time call-in guest Happy Nomad Girl will visit us in person, so that should be fun.