Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Empty Room Accepts Your Apologies, But Do I?

Today I read something at The Wild Hunt that got me thinking.  Well, Wild Hunt always makes me think, but today I feel like writing about it.  It's the last section, "Medicine Man Confidentiality" of today's post.  It addresses equal rights for non-Christian religions to have a sort of "confessional confidentiality."  You know how if a murderer confesses his crime to a priest in confession it's considered sacred and the police can't force the priest to tell them?  Yeah, I think it's bullshit too.  And here's why:

I think why Christians are so okay with this is because their central dogma revolves around the spiritual world (the "next world") and the fact that this, physical world is fleeting.  Unimportant.  Basically, they're saying it doesn't matter what happens in "this" world, because it's all gonna come out right in the end.  Hey, the evil will be punished eternally and the virtuous will party in heaven and everyone's happy, right?

Dear gods, NO!  Are they HEARING themselves?  (I'm sorry, this really gets me.)  Oh, it doesn't matter that the murderer confessed to the priest but is still out on the streets to kill more people, and their families will be torn apart by grief and uncertainty for years and years to come, because he confessed his sins and he'll be punished in hell for all eternity when he dies.  Which could be after he kills twenty more people, or whatever.  Or no wait, doesn't confession mean he's absolved?  So you mean to tell me that he's "not guilty" anymore in your estimation because he's "seen the error of his ways" and confessed to the priest?  Oh, so that time he dismembered some random hooker in a dark alley and threw the parts in the East River was just an "oopsie" and didn't really count?  (Why yes, I do get a lot of my material from L&O…)  Oh, yeah, it does count, but kiss a string of beads a few hundred times and apologize to an empty room, or better yet, a manmade symbol, and all will be forgiven.  I'm sorry: WHAT?  What are you on?  And this is written into our LEGAL SYSTEM.

"This" world matters.  I understand that there's a historical precedent for this.  But here's the bottom line: while you have a right to believe in such things as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, you DO NOT have the right to subject me to your beliefs.  This is relevant when the victim and the victim's family are not of the same persuasion as you.  If a Catholic murdered a Hindu, then went to confession and told the priest all the gory details, should the victim's family (not being of the belief that JCgod will judge everyone at the end of days and everyone will be allotted their deserved space in heaven/hell) be content with the priest clamming up?  No, the priest is then complicit in the crime.  The priest should GO TO JAIL (DO NOT pass go, DO NOT collect $200).  The American legal system recognizing the confidentiality of Catholic confession (etc) impinges on MY rights to MY OWN beliefs: that everyone should be held accountable (assuming we are actually pursuing justice) in "this" world because there is no "next" world (what is this "next world" of which you speak of) where some "higher power" is going to do it for us.

And if you think that argument (yeah, that one ^ right up there) is an impingement on separation of church and state, just turn right around and consider that, in this case, our legal system is already taking cues from religious beliefs.

And if you're like Christine O'Donnell, who denies the validity of the interpretation of the second Amendment to the Constitution as "separation of church and state," then you should have no problem with the [slightly] religious nature of my argument.

So the article at Wild Hunt doesn't deal with Catholic confession; it's about equal rights for other faiths, namely native American faiths.  Up in Canada there's a murder trial going on, and as I understand it the suspect (being an adherent to a native American faith) may have said some things to a medicine man and the court is hemming and hawing about the legality of entering confessions to a spiritual leader into evidence.  Can you see where I'm going with this?

Okay, now I've had a few hours to cool down about this, but I still vehemently oppose this unconstitutional practice of the law.  I have two more points to make:

There might be a historical precedent for respecting the confidentiality of confession, but we don't live in the past.  Our society is much larger and communication over long distances and to a lot of people is much easier, so do we really want to send a message (that will be heard by millions, if not billions of people around the country and the world) that we don't punish "good Christians?"

And what's to say that certain unscrupulous elements (as criminals are wont to be) won't take advantage of this loophole in the legal system?  Are we really saying that a priest won't be fooled by a seasoned con artist or a pathological liar?

This chance for criminals to slide by the legal system in our country needs to be addressed.  The article may have been about events in Canada, but it just got me thinking about our own country (and how much confession confidentiality peeves me on L&O).  Sorry for all the vitriol, but I feel that it needs to be said.


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