Friday, September 28, 2012

The Death Penalty Upsized

Nearly a week after Jill Meagher was reported missing, police arrested a man who led them to her body which was buried in a shallow grave 50km outside the city of Melbourne. Adrian Ernest Bayley has been charged with the rape and murder of the 29 year old Irish born ABC employee. Her family and friends are devastated, and the Australian community shocked and angry.

Talk of retribution naturally arises as people struggle to understand what drove a seemingly normal man to commit such a heinous crime against a beautiful and innocent woman. Details of this crime will follow in the days to come but the full story will not be known until Bayley's trial, and perhaps not even then. Inevitably the perennial discussion about capital punishment re enters public fora. There are those who want this rapist and murderer to be executed but is the death sentence a just punishment?

An eye for an eye sounds appealing as a fair punishment, and is the Bible verse most often quoted when it comes to the death penalty debate, but I don't believe that capital punishment, state sanctioned execution, is ever justified. The argument goes like this, "He took a person's life so he should have his life taken." What about a mass murderer? How many times should Martin Bryant, for example, be executed for murdering 35 people in the Port Arthur massacre? What punishment could atone for the loss of those lives, not to mention the ongoing trauma suffered by the 21 survivors, and all the friends and families of the victims? Adrian Bayley raped Jill Meagher before he murdered her, so should we rape him before strapping him down on the lethal injection table? Who would volunteer to be the state's official rapist? The victims of the disturbing Snowtown murders were tortured in extreme and unusual ways before they were killed. To be fair, shouldn't we do the same thing to the convicted murderers in this case? If so we need a state sanctioned murderer, rapist and torturer  Any volunteers? The money will probably be very good.

I understand the anger people feel, I feel it too, but we mustn't allow our actions to be dictated to by our emotions. Who wants to live in a society where life is so cheap? Where someone decides that someone else's life should be terminated? Where the punishment exactly fits the crime? Think about what a society that would be. Ultimate justice is in the hands of the only true and righteous judge, the perfect one, the God of Heaven. We may never see perfect justice in our life time but we may be sure of its reality.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Destruction by Video Referee

One of the innovations introduced to the game of Rugby League as part of News Corporation's attempt to take over the game in the mid 1990s was video referees.

In order to remove human error, or at least reduce the number of incorrect decisions regarding the scoring of tries, an additional referee was employed to sit in a box at the ground and watch video replays of the action. If the onfield referee could not decide whether it was a fair try according to the laws of the game, then he would refer it upstairs. The point was to reduce the number of incorrect calls and to provide excitement for the crowd as they waited, tension mounting, for the decision of the video referee.

To score a fair try, a player must force the ball down, on or over the try line with at least one hand on the ball. That's the way it should be anyway. Now we have referees awarding tries to players who "force" the ball with their fingernails, their elbows, their chests, or worse, to those who appear to drop the ball. They use a term called "benefit of the doubt" which means they still aren't sure if it is a legitimate try despite looking at thousands of slow motion replays and holding the game up, but they award it anyway. They don't know, but they give the player the benefit of the doubt. This rubbish is ruining the game.

I do not understand why the video referees continue to award tries which Blind Freddy can see are not tries. Perhaps I could give the video referees themselves the benefit of the doubt and say that they are only interpreting the rules. If that is the case then the rules suck. And what about the on field referees? Professionals, fast and fit who position themselves perfectly on the field to see what happens, but are too afraid to make decisions? And the touch judges who don't raise their flags even though they are standing right next to a player who steps on the sideline? Do your damn jobs! Stop destroying the game with gutless officiating.

We now have more errors and worse errors than we ever did under the old system of the one referee and his two eyes. Right or wrong, we accepted the referee's decision, or we blew up about it, but it stood. Now we wait and watch endless replays which clearly show "no try" only to be told that our eyes have deceived us and the player did not drop the ball, and it is a try. This insanity must stop. The Commission must make this a priority when they review the game in 2012. I want the video referee abolished.

You can read more detail about the war here

Friday, September 14, 2012

Square Pegs by Mausb on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.

Worse than the F-bomb

A year 6 girl was recently singled out by a teacher and hit with a verbal harangue about her language. The teacher pulled the student out of the group immediately and delivered a sermon about inappropriate language which was offensive to Christians. During the rebuke, the teacher mentioned the fact that "we hear it all the time on the television" but that doesn't make acceptable. As I watched the drama unfold, I reflected on my own feelings towards the use of the saying for which the year 6 girl was reprimanded. "Oh my God!" Was I offended? Am I offended? I recalled my careless uttering of the word "bloody" back in my primary school days, and the subsequent tongue lashing I received from the teacher who felt that word was offensive to Christians.

People invoke the name of one god or another on a daily basis, usually to add authority to their claim to be speaking the truth, but also to express shock, amazement or grief. The phrase, "Oh my God! or its digital offspring, OMG, is so common nowadays that no one thinks anything of it. It is a meaningless mouthing. I don't like it so I don't use it, but I'm not greatly offended by it. It's more of an annoyance. People likewise say "thank God" all the time without thinking anything of it, and I don't see how I could be offended by people thanking God even if they don't know him or believe in him. However, when I say thank God, I am not just using a popular expression of gratitude or relief, I am actually thanking God. I believe in God so when I use his name, I am talking about Him or to Him.

The greater offence, in my eyes, is the misuse of the name of the Son of God. "Jesus Christ" is often used as a swear word and considered less offensive than the F-bomb. This is a special and precious name to billions of people and yet so many treat it like dirt, a common profanity. I used to do it before I knew Him, before He saved me. I did it to aggravate Christians that I knew, and to amuse my friends with my creative blasphemies. I don't think that most people are as calculating as I once was, but I do think they are careless with their words. The Bible says there is no other name by which men man by saved. To use that name as a banal throwaway swear word is most certainly offensive, and quite stupid. It makes me cringe when I hear people use Jesus' name in vain. 

As for the year 6 girl with the loose tongue, I hope she learns to think about what she says, and how she says it. We should all be mindful of the same thing, as we will be held accountable for every word we speak.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I Love Julia

The quality of political debate in Australia is as good as the air quality in Bangkok, so I take my hat off to the federal opposition spokesman on communications, Malcolm Turnbull for his strong criticism of Parliament's question time. Apparently, Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, saw Turnbull's speech before it was delivered in Perth during the week, and approved it. A remarkable situation, given the fact that Abbott himself has been the prime mover in this deterioration, the major agent for the rot that has undoubtedly set in. Although he almost certainly blames everyone else, Abbott leads the Opposition and he is, without equivocation, the most negative and annoying Opposition leader in my lifetime.

And yet, sadly, there are those who like Tony Abbott and want him to be the next prime Minister of Australia. God forbid! The world has not ended with the introduction of either the mining tax or the carbon tax. Public opinion is turning on those issues, with polls indicating people feel that the forecast catastrophic impacts of these taxes has not, and probably will not, eventuate. The Government has adopted the Coalition's asylum seeker policy and the popularity numbers for the the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the wannabe PM, Tony Abbott, are moving, albeit very slowly, in the right direction for the former, and the wrong direction for the latter.

I don't really know why people dislike, Julia Gillard. She rubs some people the wrong way: they don't like her voice, the fact that she doesn't have children, they don't trust her because she said no carbon tax, and then introduced one, they feel she stabbed her predecessor in the back in a cowardly coup, and the list goes on.

Although I don't actually love Julia Gillard, I do like her. I like the sound of her voice and I like the way she does business. I like the fact that she is leading an efficient reformist government who makes unpopular decisions because they believe they are acting in the best interests of Australia. If I sound like a Labour man, that's because I am.