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Bad Eagle Journal

Liberals, Prisons, and Christ

by David Yeagley · January 9, 2007 · 24 Comments ·

MSNBC, a major American network, spends a lot of time in prison. In fact, nearly every evening, prime time, viewers are treated to intimate conversations with murderers, their private lives, their feelings. The criminal is given all the glory of national recognition. Whatever comfort is in fame, is it freely given to the inmates. This is not only true for American prisons, but MSNBC hits prisons around the world. It is a remarkable effort, and merits reflection. MSNBC said one out of every 32 American adults was in prison, on probation, or on parole, by the end of 2005. It is a sensational statistic, illusory or not.

Are such reports designed for “compelling” entertainment, as Dan Abrams would say? MSNBC cancelled the popular Rita Crosby show to feature crime and punishment as a daily dish to the American prime time audience. Yes, a lot of it seems condemnatory of US policy, US government, US society in general. That is to say, the reports inevitably create sympathy for the prisoners, as if to suggest it is wrong to put anyone in prison, much less to execute him. But this may be an unvoidable impression. It doesn’t have to be the intent of MSNBC. Prison is hell. No one wants to be there. Any story about a prisonor automatically elicits sympathy. Vicarioiusly, according to natural, psychological law, we have sympathy for people in prison. They have no freedom. And especially if we don’t know them, if we were not affected by the crime they committed, we have natural sympathy for them. There would be something wrong with us if we didn’t.

However, the social trends in our modern “liberalized” society dictate that we also feel guilty for having prisons, having courts, and even having laws in the first place. Prison is a denial of freedom. Prison is taking away rights. Prison is doing wrong to the wrong doer. Plain and simple. What we need is public tax-funded (government sponsored) rehabilitation programs.

Yet, there is a deeper side to this issue. It is a religious side. A Christian side. Jesus spoke about it. “I was in prison, and ye came unto me,” He said, commending those who cared for the misfortune of others. Of course, condemnation rests upon those who did not care. (Matthew 25: 34-38.) In a stunningly real sense, one could look at the liberal, almost anti-American efforts of MSNBC as basically a Christian gesture. MSNBC in fact visits the prisoners. Sure, it’s emotional gore, it’s “yellow news,” and it’s sick entertainment. But, in a very real sense, the prisoners are visited–by the world. Through media, through MSNBC, they have a sense of importance. All is not lost. They are not forgotten or forsaken. Society is in fact vitally interested in what’s happening to them. This is phenomenal degree of compassion, objectively speaking. It is unprecedented in history. That’s one view of the show.

Of course, there’s the other side to that. It is as if prisoners are rewarded for their crimes. They get their fifteen minutes of fame for wrong doing. The attention is some kind of compensation for their imprisonment. Movies are made about them. Books are written about them. (Sometimes they write their own.) Marvelous curiosities are generated by their lives. This whole business can easily be looked at from an ominous point of view:

Lawlessness, dissipation, and corruption are sweeping in upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family, Satan is at work. His banner waves, even in professedly Christian households. There is envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, estrangement, emulation, strife, betrayal of sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines, which should form the foundation and framework of social life, seems to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin. The vilest of criminals, when thrown into prison for their offenses, are often made the recipients of gifts and attentions as if they had attained an enviable distinction. Great publicity is given to their character and crimes. The press publishes the revolting details of vice, thus initiating others into the practice of fraud, robbery, and murder; and Satan exults in the success of his hellish schemes. The infatuation of vice, the wanton taking of life, the terrible increase of intemperance and iniquity of every order and degree, should arouse all who fear God, to inquire what can be done to stay the tide of evil. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p.513.

One has to wonder. Media is about making money. Yes, it seems to have social and political influence, but, it is not really focused on these influences. It’s about money. What brings viewers? What makes a show success? How can news be presented as “compelling” entertainment? What are the subjects? A water pipe crack isn’t the same kind of “compelling” news as a terrorist attack (–though more and more, all mishaps are being immediately associated with Muslim murderers, and rightfully so).

Would a prisoner react differently to an MSNBC camera than a old Baptist preacher, or a priest, coming into his cell? Why? What are the dynamics, psychologically? Who’s offering what, to whom? If the minister’s pleas to the prisoner were broadcast, the sincerity of both men would be suspect. Yet, I dare say the minister’s visit is more important! We must make this observation: MSNBC does not feature ‘conversion’ stories. Not if it involves Christ. Occasionally there are Muslim stories, but MSNBC is not going to feature Christian repentence as entertainment. That’s probably a good thing, no? Repentence is not entertainment. When it become such, as on many televangelist enterprises, then we have to step back from that.

But MSNBC goes where I can’t go. MSNBC talks with people who would not talk with me. This I find interesting. And there are always stories like Keith Morrison’s, on the preacher who murdered his wife, cut up her body and buried in the desert, and when interviewed behave in a most congenial, happy, unrepentent manner. “Perhaps he is merely determined to keep his torment private,” Morrison says. Does that mean MSNBC prison specials are in fact entertainment after all?

And what about the innocent?!


Prisoners of Buchwald, 1945

That’s a whole different story.

Posted by David Yeagley · January 9, 2007 · 6:13 pm CT · ·

Tags: Bad Eagle Journal




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24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nadine // Jan 9, 2007 at 9:43 pm   

    So that’s life…

  • 2 Joyce Dietsch // Jan 9, 2007 at 9:51 pm   

    Perhaps Keith Morrison has never heard of sociopaths, people who feel absolutely nothing, not love, fear, guilt, or remorse. They can be teachers, lawyers, doctors, preachers, plumbers or even your next door neighbor. They can even be members of the manipulative, socialist media.

  • 3 David Yeagley // Jan 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm   

    Just when I thought I had a handle on the media…

    Thanks, Joyce!

  • 4 David Yeagley // Jan 9, 2007 at 9:59 pm   

    Nadine, it’s sad that evil exists. Prisons are a sign of it. Prisons are for the safety of society at large. Prisons are a sociological way of handling a sociological problem.

    Yes, they are an embarrassment to the human race, but, they are a sign of the outrage of our existence.

  • 5 Nadine // Jan 9, 2007 at 10:07 pm   

    in all its absurdity & beauty.

  • 6 David Yeagley // Jan 9, 2007 at 10:19 pm   

    You said it.

    I’ve always believed there is healing power in beauty. People that love beauty–these are special people.

  • 7 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 2:00 am   

    Jesus, said, “Love your brother like your soul, “guard him” like the pupil of your eye”–The Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic) ; #25

    The fact of the matter is, we need more prisons and more executions to guard our brothers against the terror, pain and suffering that the AntiChrist’s legions feasts so enjoyably and robustly on.

    There will be 600,000 prisoners paroled this year, of which most, already have prior convictions. Of these 600,000 parolees, 75% will re-offend and return to prison.

    I can tell you Doctor with absolutely no hesitation; when I see a prisoner on TV or hear of one elsewhere, my first thought goes to the prisoners crime and how it effected “all” the victims. I feel no pity for a convicted criminal whatsoever, unless it is proved the conviction was legitimately made in error. Some first offenders elicits my pity also.

    More TV programs should be aired about the victims anguish, the revolving door failure of our recidivistic “criminal justice” system, and lack of a “justice system” for the victims of crime.

  • 8 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 2:00 am   

    Jesus, said, “Love your brother like your soul, “guard him” like the pupil of your eye”–The Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic) ; #25

    The fact of the matter is, we need more prisons and more executions to guard our brothers against the terror, pain and suffering that the AntiChrist’s legions feasts so enjoyably and robustly on.

    There will be 600,000 prisoners paroled this year, of which most, already have prior convictions. Of these 600,000 parolees, 75% will re-offend and return to prison.

    I can tell you Doctor with absolutely no hesitation; when I see a prisoner on TV or hear of one elsewhere, my first thought goes to the prisoners crime and how it effected “all” the victims. I feel no pity for a convicted criminal whatsoever, unless it is proved the conviction was legitimately made in error. Some first offenders elicits my pity also.

    More TV programs should be aired about the victims anguish, the revolving door failure of our recidivistic “criminal justice” system, and lack of a “justice system” for the victims of crime.

  • 9 Mukaday // Jan 10, 2007 at 4:38 am   

    We must remember that the majority of people in Prison are doing time for non-violent offenses, such as drug crimes.

    Tell me again, why do I need to be protected from dopers, most of which are NOT burglars or armed robbers?

    Most of your recidivists (the 75% mentioned below) go back because they started using drugs again.

    Lets not talk about people in prison as though they are all murderers, rapists, molestors, and other violent offenders, when most are actually drug users (not dealers, but USERS).

    By the way, sociapathic individuals represent less than 1% of the inmate populaton, but DOES represent a somewhat larger proportion of the correctional staff population.

  • 10 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 5:47 am   

    You can begin your walk out of the darkness here Mukaday.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dcf/duc.htm#drug-related

    Let me quess, you are a judge or a sitting member of a state parole board?

  • 11 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 5:47 am   

    You can begin your walk out of the darkness here Mukaday.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dcf/duc.htm#drug-related

    Let me quess, you are a judge or a sitting member of a state parole board?

  • 12 Mukaday // Jan 10, 2007 at 6:07 am   

    Not a judge. Just a citizen and veteran. Even with the BCJ’S figures, 26% does not a majority make.

    For goodness sakes! Doesn’t the US have one of the higherst incarceration (if not THE highest) in the industrial world?

    Am I wrong about the preponderance of inmates doing time for drugs?

  • 13 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 6:50 am   

    You most certainly are wrong and your own words says as much.

    I will not use this good man’s blog to set you straight on your destructive views of crime and punishment. You Sir are simply ignorant and you use the left’s typical talking points.

    You cannot compare this nation to any other, so don’t even try that nonsense with me, it holds no water.

    I could eliminate close to 75% of all the rapes that will occur in the coming year. Let me round up and execute all rapists that have already been convicted of at least three rapes–strike four you’re out of here!

    You can have the last word.

  • 14 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 10, 2007 at 6:50 am   

    You most certainly are wrong and your own words says as much.

    I will not use this good man’s blog to set you straight on your destructive views of crime and punishment. You Sir are simply ignorant and you use the left’s typical talking points.

    You cannot compare this nation to any other, so don’t even try that nonsense with me, it holds no water.

    I could eliminate close to 75% of all the rapes that will occur in the coming year. Let me round up and execute all rapists that have already been convicted of at least three rapes–strike four you’re out of here!

    You can have the last word.

  • 15 Mukaday // Jan 10, 2007 at 7:25 am   

    Thanks. Accodring to their info, I am wrong. Well, live and learn.

  • 16 David Yeagley // Jan 10, 2007 at 8:04 am   

    Well, GMS and Mukaday (by the way, Welcome to BadEagle, Mukaday!), you both are talking about statistical realities. I think I was trying to explore the psychological phenomena of the whole prison concept.

    One of my favorite books on this is Robert Castel’s The Regulation of Madness: The origins of incarceration in France (1976) It starts with the concept in the late 1700′s. Fascinating stuff.

    Prison is just something society has to do. Either that, or kill the offender on the spot. Of course, killing leads to other killing, immediately. The essence of civilization is restraint. Trusting a third party. The two offenders agree to turn their dispute over to others.

    It is inefficient, untrustworthy in fact, and unsatisfying. But, it is the best we have, outside pure heathendom.

  • 17 ecology // Jan 10, 2007 at 11:58 am   

    Doc I am not human then. I have zero remorse for all third degree felons. Better they are dead. Honest providers to the economy and taxpayers are the ones paying for all this “civilization”. Its more of a theft that is going on. Gallows and firing squad. Disciplined and with law. Not willy nilly. Now we are incarcerating people that have some pot on them and we get the bill. This is just more of the profit motivated culture. Its a business. But hey thats what we wanted is it not. I did not. But People like me who actually contribute to the economy and society are having less and less of a voice. Im civilized and have discipline. Why should we have to pay for others who are weak and pathetic. Kill them all.

  • 18 Adam // Jan 10, 2007 at 1:10 pm   

    “Prison is a denial of freedom. Prison is taking away rights. Prison is doing wrong to the wrong doer. Plain and simple.”

    Dr, I would suggest that this is indeed accurate, though not with the conclusion that you supplied. (i.e rehab) Prison are indeed wrong, we find no justification for them anywhere in scripture. God has proscribed punishments for certain crimes, and incarceration was never amongst them. We have become too conservative with the application of the death penalty, and too tyrannical with those things we call ‘crimes’…as the 19th cenutry author, Lysander Spooner, vices are not crimes, and should not be punished as such.

    In scripture, we see that the only cultures who have the concept of ‘prisons’ were those pagan nations amongst whom Israel lived. For example, in Egypt. Restitution, or execution, are the proper remedies for crimes. But when we start inventing “crimes” that is when we have to start inventing punishments, which result in unbiblical treatment.

    I’m not against punisment for criminals, as is commonly associated with “liberals”…but, just as I am against torturing criminals before they are put to death, I am against other unLawful deeds done to them.

  • 19 KuhnKat // Jan 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm   

    Before you start throwing around statistics, please look at their make up. Right now we have a hugE number of incarcerated Illegal Alien CRIMINALS. They are in jail because of mostly VIOLENT crimes!!

    Yes, getting rid of victimless crimes would be a reasonable thing both in the intereSt of being able to work with the person to help them and in preventing them from going to FINISHING SCHOOL in the Penetentaries!!

    Executing extremely violent repeat offenders is also a very reasonable thing to contemplate based on recidivism statistics.

    Closing the border would decrease the violence level in this country by at least 20% SHORT TERM!!! Why would criminals leave Mexico and come to the US?? Well, if they are committing robberies they can get more money per crime. If they are committing violent crimes they are less likely to be SHOT WHILE ESCAPING!! They also get reasonable food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment as opposed to the Mexican prison system!! In spite of ome of the abuses here they are still safer in a US prison!!

    Yup, the Leftard way is to create more criminals to VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS!! I’m sure some of you have noticed that they keep crying that all criminals should retain their voting privileges??

    I think a new saying should be “a party should be known by the constituents they court!!”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • 20 Respects Nothing // Jan 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm   

    “Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding. Criminals mock society’s laws.”

    Batman Begins

  • 21 David Yeagley // Jan 10, 2007 at 6:48 pm   

    King David, on his death bed, wished that things were different, but he advised Solomon, “the sons of Belial (“bitches”) shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands, but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear.” 2 Sam. 23:6

    In other words, the bad men are there, to be dealt with–and use iron! It’s just an element of society, here on earth, now. Deal with it, and use an iron hand!

    I guess that says it all.

  • 22 concha // Jan 11, 2007 at 8:09 am   

    Victims of assault, even burglary (having one’s home invaded and possessions stolen causes psychological damage) require years of recovery, which is costly to society. Women who are raped and/or beaten (and men for that matter) are more inclined to use drugs and alcohol and need social services. Criminals incur more costs to society than we even imagine, and those criminals need to pay society back, they owe us, because we foot their bills.
    Crime is, absolutely, our biggest evil, it is more dangerous than terrorism and more costly, as it destroys us from within.

  • 23 Beakerkin // Jan 11, 2007 at 8:54 am   

    Doc

    As someoe who worked with criminals most of the ones I met had other issues. There were scores of addicts and people without life skills.

    Our penal system does not deal with these issues becuse the structure needed to deal with those issues would be brutal. It just isn’t PC to explain to cons you must learn skills or go into the solitary.

    The life skills department is a serious issue and it is not all about vocation. There are also some that do not belong in society like pedophiles.

  • 24 stewart // Dec 31, 2007 at 10:44 pm   

    I’ve worked with multiple probationers and parolees during the last decade. While many of these individuals were capable of exhibiting frightening behaviors, including violent crimes, the large majority have drug and/or alcohol dependency issues. Obviously people with violent histories are poor risks and likely to reoffend when they reenter society. However, this is vastly different from the crimes of the majority of alcohol and drug abusers. Recidivism could be greatly influenced by forcing those offenders to pay for lengthy substance abuse treatment,restitution fees and fines, rather than becoming a burden on the taxpayer. It is also a fact that the poor (alcohol and drug abusers) are more likely to suffer lengthy incarceration periods for offenses while others are able to afford private attorneys who have criminal charges reduced or dropped. There are numerous frightening and dangerous individuals in the prison system who need to be indefinitely separated from their potential victims. However, the idea that the majority of prisoners in this country fall into this category is simply untrue. Many current prisoners have made a series of poor decisions, which were not violent towards anyone, and are suffering with lengthy, sometimes 20+ year sentences. Everyone believes in being tough on crime until their brother, son, niece, unexpectedly does the unthinkable and gets arrested for stealing or buying/selling drugs and gets a 20 to life sentence, or they themselves get arrested and convicted of a crime they did not commit. This was the case for 19 men who were recently exonerated after DNA evidence cleared them and released them from their death penalty convictions. Everyone in prison has a story, even the violent criminals can teach us what our society needs to do in terms of social services/assistance when families are doing poorly and have multiple needs. Research has shown that most violent criminals have family histories of mental illness and childhood abuse. We do need a criminal justice system and we need prisons to house those that who would do us harm. Listening to any individual tell the story of his/her life is fascinating, and hopefully will teach us more about how to one day prevent having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

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