Insight on the News
Convict Sees What Courts Cannot
A prisoner’s essay on “Paying My Debt to Society” recently appeared in Newsweek magazine’s “My Turn” column. The convict, writing from his Indiana prison cell, pointed out that he is not the one “paying” for the crime—his victim is:
“There is, of course, the victim’s initial loss. In addition, his tax dollars paid for my defense and go toward my upkeep here in prison, to the tune of $10,000 to $15,000 per year. He will pay again if my family is forced to go on welfare and yet again if, when I am released, I am unable to find work. I will simply go on welfare, and he will foot the bill. . . . In the time I have spent in prisons, it has been repeatedly stressed to me that I must pay my debt to society. So society proceeds to feed, clothe and house me for however long I must remain behind bars and perhaps even beyond; this is not so much a repayment of debt as an abdication of responsibility.”
What is so clear to this prisoner, but apparently beyond the grasp of most jurists, is this simple fact: “I owe my victim $1,444, and society owes him the opportunity to get that money back. Justice can only be served by my paying back what I have taken. . . . Forcing the criminal to restore to his victim what he took in the first place has the potential of instilling in him not only respect for the property of others but also some shred of self-respect. He would learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to paying his debt.” That such an uncomplicated system of justice really works was demonstrated in ancient Israel, where God’s Law demanded—and got—restitution.—Exodus 22:3, 4, 7.
Commenting on the continuing competition among evolutionists as to who has found the oldest/best humanlike fossil, a recent editorial in The New York Times observed that paleoanthropology is a “science long on dramatic assertions and short on sure knowledge. Paleoanthropology draws upon the rigorous disciplines of anatomy and geology but includes so much room for conjecture that theories of how man came to be tend to tell more about their author than their subject.”
The Times editorial noted the example of “English anatomists [who] uncritically accepted the Piltdown fossils that came to light around 1910”—later proved to be a hoax. To show that little has changed among today’s evolutionists, the book Missing Links is cited: “[Modern paleoanthropologists] are no less likely to cling to erroneous data that supports their preconceptions than were earlier investigators.” Why this lack of scientific objectivity? The Times suggests: “One reason may be that some theories attract more material support than others [or, “better” fossils get better funding]. . . . The finder of a new skull often seems to redraw the family tree of man, with his discovery on the center line that leads to man and everyone else’s skulls on side lines leading nowhere.”
In any event, said the editorial, “Most of the [fossil] evidence would fit on a billiard table,” making anyone’s interpretation subject to sudden change.
Ancient Advice Still Best
How should marriage mates deal with anger when it arises between them? “At one time, therapists believed it was best to release anger, but the research now indicates otherwise,” answers University of Southern California sociology professor Carlfred Broderick. “People who express a lot of hostility usually get a lot of hostility back.” And, rather than proving to be a release, he says, “the anger becomes more deeply rooted and feeds on itself.”
Broderick recommends that an angered spouse try to handle the matter calmly instead of exploding. “There’s wisdom in old-fashioned civility,” he observes and cites some ancient Biblical wisdom: “When Solomon said ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath,’ he was right on. That was a long, long time ago, but it still holds true today.”—Proverbs 15:1.