Teenagers beaten, one fatally, by New York church members hoping for confessions of sin

Beating deaths occur regularly, and for many reasons, but here’s one that can be imputed only to an extremist form of faith. As reported by both Reuters and CBS News/AP, two parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard), have been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the beating death of their son Lucas (19), and assault on his brother Christopher (17) at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, New York. Their crimes? Being “sinful”: the beatings were administered to try to get the teenagers to admit their sin.  Apparently the family drove the boys to a hospital and claimed that they had suffered gunshot wounds, but that’s just dumb, because there was no indication of such wounds, which of course don’t look like beating at all.

Four other church members, including the victims’ sister, were also arrested and jailed.  All defendants are shown below.

The beatings were horrible:

Brutal beatings that left one teenager dead and his brother seriously injured Monday at a New York church were part of what members considered a “counseling session,” according to police.

New Hartford Police Chief Michael Inserra said Wednesday that both Lucas and Christopher Leonard were subjected to hours of physical punishment at the Word of Life Church “in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness.”

. . . O’Neill said Lucas Leonard died Monday after he was beaten the night before at the Word of Life Church in New Hartford, which is 80 miles northwest of Albany.

He was said to have “died a violent death over several hours.”

Police did not reveal if any weapons were used, but did say “feet and fists were involved.”

The six church members were arraigned Tuesday and sent to Oneida County Jail. At the arraignment, it was revealed that both teens suffered injuries to their abdomens, genitals, backs and thighs. Bail for the Leonards was set at $100,000 each and for the four other defendants at $50,000 each. All pleaded not guilty.

The defendants:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 6.31.38 AM

Bruce Leonard, Deborah Leonard, Sarah Ferguson (top L-R), Joseph Irwin, Linda Morey, and David Morey (bottom L-R) are pictured in this combination of undated handout booking photos provided by the New Hartford Police Department. REUTERS/New Hartford Police Department/Handout via Reuters

There are no atheists, at least no sane ones, who claim that all the ills of the world would be cured if we only got rid of religion. That’s nonsense: to paraphrase Steve Weinberg, in this world good people (many of them believers) do good things, and bad people do bad things. But there are some cases where religious beliefs motivate people to do bad things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. That is undeniable. This is such a case, and it cost a young man his life. The defendants are the American equivalent of those ISIS members who torture apostates and Yazidi for their own “sins”: not accepting the proper faith.

h/t: David

84 Comments

  1. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  2. Matt G
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    We may border Canada, but there are tons of rednecks in the rural parts of Upstate New York. I spend most of the summer in the Adirondacks, which isn’t far from New Hartford. My town of 1000 or so year-round residents has three (3) registered Democrats. It is a scary place, where many think nothing of taking firearms with them when camping or hiking for “protection”.

    Happy belated retirement, Jerry!

    • eric
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure redneck, Republican, or firearm-toting has anything to do with this. These acts seem fairly sect-specific. Of course, the lack of correlation between the three former factors and the behavior of beating the sin out of kids makes the correlation of that behavior with this sect all the more relevant.

    • BobTerrace
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      In the past 150 years, there have been many strange religions (and other organizations) started in upstate NY, including Mormonism.

      I wonder why there has been such a concentration there, especially considering how sparse the population is in the region.

      • Filippo
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Is this area getting “burned over,” again?

    • Scott Draper
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      “many think nothing of taking firearms with them when camping or hiking for protection”.

      Hmmm, that’s a low threshold for scary, IMO. If it were legal, I’d seriously consider taking a firearm into the woods, far from civilization. But it’s my policy to never leave civilization.

      • Lurker111
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        I’ll agree with you. If you’re in the woods and approached by a hazardous animal and the usual scare-off tactics don’t work, a firearm is the last resort. And if the animal is rabid, you don’t want it to even come close to you.

        • Matt G
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Just to be clear, the animal they are most concerned about is of the human variety. They think that there is a very real possibility of being mugged in the woods. I have run, skated, biked etc. in Central Park at all hours of the night and don’t worry about it.

          • Scott Draper
            Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

            “I have run, skated, biked etc. in Central Park at all hours of the night and don’t worry about it.”

            You probably would have in the mid-80’s. Crime in Central Park was the fodder of late night comedians.

            Regardless, biking through Central Park isn’t the camping in the woods that you originally mentioned.

            • Matt G
              Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

              You are quite the erector of straw men. First, I mentioned guns in the first place to illustrate the level of paranoia these people create for themselves; I did NOT say they were “scary” for this alone. Second, I mentioned Central Park as an example of the difference in likelihood of being mugged here vs. in the Adirondacks. I don’t fear being mugged in the big city, while they do fear being mugged in the middle of nowhere.

              • Scott Draper
                Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think being concerned about safety in the woods is paranoia. People have been assaulted by other humans in remote areas. Now, the odds might be low, but so is the effort to protect yourself.

              • Larry Cook
                Posted October 18, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

                Matt, I lived in upstate NY for half my life. Your representation of the people in the New Hartford area as well as the area in the Adirondacks where you spend summers is absolutely ridiculous. Three Democrats? You can’t just make things up and base your argument on them.

              • Matt G
                Posted October 18, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

                My neighbors in the town in the Adirondacks where I spend the summer have seen the party registration rolls and there are three registered Democrats (including one of those neighbors). In fact, I personally know one of the other two Democrats. Come visit the area, Larry, and judge for yourself.

      • Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Well, I’m sorry you choose to remain always in civilization. The “woods” have much to offer.

        I know women who, for various reasons, tend to hike alone. They carry concealed firearms. I think this is wise (lest they be forced to not hike or always coordinate with others).

        They do it not protect themselves from animals; but rather from male humans. A much more likely scenario.

        Almost no one (in the lower 48 US, Europe, UK) hikes where an animal attack is a serious concern. I’ve hiked very many times in black bear, cougar, moose, wolf, and grizzly bear territory (North America) and I’ve never felt the need for a gun. However, I can’t fault some one else for feeling that need (at least in the case of grizzly or polar bear country).

        • eric
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          In northern California, cougar attacks on hikers and mountain cyclists are somewhat common. By “somewhat” I mean it happens maybe once every few years. Not a significant threat if you’re an occasional outdoorsperson, but if you’re using the exact same trail day in and day out, following the same pattern, and you’re alone, and not too big, then you should worry about animal predators picking up on your pattern just as you might worry about a human predator picking up on it.

          Having said all that, the pros and cons of carrying firearms in the woods has nothing to do with beating your kid to death in a church. The former is a rational difference of opinion that citizens can argue; the latter is murder.

          • Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            “The former is a rational difference of opinion that citizens can argue; the latter is murder.”

            Exactly.

        • Scott Draper
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          “They do it not protect themselves from animals; but rather from male humans.”

          Of course. My pistol probably wouldn’t be much protection from the only animal that I would truly fear: a bear.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:28 am | Permalink

      Well, y’awl (sorry, transatlantic attempt at a Texan accent, considering the next post), there’s your problem : not enough guns. Y’awl see, if there were more guns around, particularly in this place of G*d, then you can be sure that boy would not’ve died of beating injuries reported as a gunshot wound. For sure, someone would have thought to shoot them evil, evil accused sinners before taking them to the emergency room. That would have made everything right.
      Sarcasm may already be the lowest form of wit – and the best – but there remain new depths to be plumbed.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        And when those new depths are discovered, the gravel inspector will boldly plumb where no man has plumbed before 😉

        cr

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted October 17, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          I leave the plumbing to plumbers. And pipefitters. Me – I delve. There’s probably some dwarvish – or trollish – in my blood.
          Damn, Pratchett had slipped a bit with some of his last few books, but I’m still going to miss the denizens of Ankh-Morpork. Not enough to Cut My Own Throat (™ or is it &tm;?), but I’m still going to miss the place.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            Well it’s dwarves who did the delving. Which made them the natural enemies of trolls, who were made of rock and resented being delved. As one would.

            I have to admit I preferred the trolls, even though they seemed to be rather snobbish about which rocks they were made from. Typically for Pratchett, his featured troll characters were low-grade rocks. Asphalt. Detritus.

            I agree Pratchett slipped a little at the end, though even his least impressive efforts were still readable. I still have to read ‘Raising Steam’ and that will be the last ever. But then I’ll start again with Colour of Magic and work my way through the lot.

            cr

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 17, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

              (Hmm, I just scanned Da Roolz, and there’s nothing about going Off Topic. Probably just as well…)

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted October 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

              I read “Raising Steam” on the flight down. Liked it, but it wasn’t a struggle to leave it on the rig for others to enjoy. Not up to … any of the first dozen. but I will get a hardback edition one day, for longevity.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

            Aidan the depth-delver. Say that five times fast.

            • Merilee
              Posted October 17, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

              LOL – Aidan’s quickly turning into Aithan the Gravel Inthpecthor…

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted October 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              that that that that that

              • Diane G.
                Posted October 19, 2015 at 12:24 am | Permalink

                *eye roll roll roll roll roll*

  3. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I wonder how Salon will blame this one on colonialism? Oh wait, they’re Christians in America and as I check my Salon approved flow chart of victimization and villainy, I see that it’s perfectly fine to tee off on THESE religious fanatics.

  4. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer/Trans News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
    An horrific hate crime in the name of religion. This certainly shows that so called “religious rights” should never be blindly tolerated, particularly when no one outside the church seems to know what goes on behind closed doors. We shouldn’t have to wait for a tragedy to more closely scrutinize cults like this!

  5. rickflick
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    This is grotesque, and a real indictment of religion. It comes from the idea that you can take a system of “morality” confected in the Iron Age and implement it in the modern world. As a species we have moved beyond that. It plays into the hands of the worst aspects of human nature, including sadism.

    • kevin7alexander
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      It’s not sadism, it’s righteous indignation and their hands (and feet) were guided by JESUS! I sure hope that the older son confessed his sins before he died was taken into the loving bosom of His mercy; otherwise he’s burning in hell right now. Of course he was probably unconscious by that time so, oh well, such are the mysterious ways of the LORD.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        “It’s not sadism, it’s righteous indignation . . .

        I agree. Indignation addiction is common, but not exclusively, among religious fanatics. I’d add sanctimony to the list as well.

        • Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          +1

        • reasonshark
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          A large chunk of historical mass atrocities are caused by people whose strongly moral convictions are rivalled only by strongly unsound ideas of what is moral in the first place.

          Ideas like “They over there aren’t real people, not like us here” and “We should punish them for [insert alleged – and possibly batshit-crazy – group crime here]” and “The best way to be kind is to be cruel/It’s the only language they understand”.

  6. Diane G.
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    How parents could possibly raise a child for 19 years and then beat him to death…it’s hard enough just to write that! It’s completely unfathomable…unspeakable.

    Other stories have described the church’s cultish practices to the extent that they were even known outside the community. The children were denied normal childhood activities and forced to read the Bible 2 hours a day. Ferguson, by the way, is the boys’ sister. (And apparently Bruce Leonard, the father, is actually the kids’ stepfather.)

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      One of the articles I read on this said the mother was completely cowed by her husband and didn’t feel able to speak up for her sons. I obviously have no idea whether there’s any truth to that.

      You would have to be really brainwashed by the belief system to think this is appropriate behaviour that is helping someone. If you’ve bought into the idea that heaven is real, and the eternal soul is real, and been shielded from those who say otherwise, there’s a certain sick logic to this. That’s not an excuse of course, just a reason.

      As long as some societies think religiosity is a sign of Good Moral Character, kids will continue to be brought up in such circumstances and believe this s**t.

      • Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        “One of the articles I read on this said the mother was completely cowed by her husband and didn’t feel able to speak up for her sons.”

        This would not be a bit surprising.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      “How parents could possibly raise a child for 19 years and then beat him to death…it’s hard enough just to write that! It’s completely unfathomable…unspeakable.”

      Yes, seriously deranged.

      I would have felt anger at this prior to being a parent. But as a parent, with all those instincts evolution has equipped me with, this sort of thing becomes unimaginable — at least for a sane person.

      These people have been made less-than-sane by religious indoctrination. Not that that should be any sort of excuse or waiver in this case.

      • eric
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Well if Heather’s additions are correct, it becomes a bit more biologically/sociologically understandable: the father did not raise the kids and so may not have the deep emotional tie a lifelong parent would have, and the mother who had that connection was cowed into submission.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          Correcting my first comment in this comment thread–now it looks like Bruce Leonard is the boys’ biological father, and that possibly the accused sister is from a previous marriage of one of the parents’.

          C’mon, media, get the facts straight…

      • Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        You don’t need to suppose the father is insane, or that he wasn’t close to his children. You only need to suppose that he believed that his children would go to hell if they did not confess their sins. If he believed that, and if a beating is the best way to get a child to confess, then a beating is the most compassionate thing he could have done. Further, the Bible commands parents to beat sinful children. Most Christians today don’t buy into that sort of thing, but you see what can happens with those who do.

        • Matt G
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Another perk for being religious – you can make claims about your motives (which atheists can’t) and have them taken seriously.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        “I would have felt anger at this prior to being a parent. But as a parent, with all those instincts evolution has equipped me with, this sort of thing becomes unimaginable…”

        It is a shock to find out how visceral one’s reaction to child abuse is after becoming a parent; when my kids were young I found I just simply couldn’t read some crime stories if I wanted to avoid a reaction as physical as it was emotional.

    • Lurker111
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      We’re talking severe mental illness here. When that appears, all bets are off.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Can we really assume that? It’s certainly one of the only explanations that seems to make sense, but it also seems a little pat to me. And debasing to the millions of completely harmless mentally ill.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:35 am | Permalink

      How parents could possibly raise a child for 19 years and then beat him to death…it’s hard enough just to write that! It’s completely unfathomable…unspeakable.

      For some reason, a line from a 1980s song (which I think made #1 in the (s)hit parade in the UK, but I’m not sure ; don’t know how it fared abroad) comes to mind : “Of those who died in the [Vietnam] War / Their average age was 19.”
      I’m sure military conscription laws (affecting young people) were mostly voted for by loving parents of those same youths. Or at least, youths in the target (sorry) age range. Though I do believe that “they can’t take my baby!” wasn’t a rare cry at the time. with the obvious corollary that “they should take someone else’s baby!”
      To mis-quote another Vietnam media line : “I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.” [Cue : Valkyries]

  7. Peter_J
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The world just gets more bizarre by the day. I am getting too old for it.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      This is nothing new. This is very old school. Ancient even. Much more prevalent in the past than it is now. We have made, are making and will very likely continue to make, progress.

      • Peter_J
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Sure. But this is the 21st century. I hope there is progress, but sometimes what I read is very depressing.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes it is hard to see. When your feeling dejected by this kind of horrid stuff, maybe reread a chapter of Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature to help regain some hope for humanity. I could probably use some of that right about now.

        • eric
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          So now you’ve got me envisioning a teenage Danny Glover, saying “I’m too millennial for this sh*t”

  8. Pliny the in Between
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    And we all had hoped that the Inquisition run its course long ago. Monstrous is the only word that comes to mind.

  9. Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “Apparently the family drove the boys to a hospital and claimed that they had suffered gunshot wounds, but that’s just dumb, because there was no indication of such wounds, which of course don’t look like beating at all.”

    Well, I hope the parents receive a good beating for their sin of lying.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Also, it was my understanding that they actually only drove the oldest son to the hospital, and that may have been after he stopped breathing. And that the youngest son was being concealed in the “church” and was hard for the authorities to find, even after the cult knew the oldest victim had died.

  10. darrelle
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    At the moment it is difficult to be objective or dispassionate about this. This case is a perfect example of why justice systems need to be designed from an impartial, dispassionate perspective, and justice administered impartially, because at the moment I would not take issue with someone administering an epic beating to Bruce Leonard and his putridly pious posse.

    Thankfully my reasonably decent society (that still has plenty of room for improvement) is likely to protect me from myself in this case.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      +1

    • reasonshark
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I think it helps to realize that the beaters are victims of the religion too, though clearly not in the same way (or anywhere near to the same horrible degree) that the poor “sinners” were. They have, by an unlucky combination of born dispositions and exposure to a culture with a disappointingly shoddy belief system in it, been led to believe nonsense and needlessly hurt people under completely misguided impressions. This is a belief system that has duped them into wasting their lives – and others’ – on it.

      When I think about the unpleasantness of this lottery, and what a stupid and needless waste the result is, I find it harder to feel angry revenge and easier to feel a kind of twisted pity for them.

      • eric
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        While I do think their sectarian beliefs are a cause, ultimately I place the blame on the individual actors more than the abstract ideology. You (the rhetorical you) could’ve been the sort of Christian who paid mere lip service to the nasty bits of the theology. There are millions of those types. You chose not to. You’re to blame, not the book.

        • Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          “You (the rhetorical you) could’ve been the sort of Christian who paid mere lip service to the nasty bits of the theology.”

          Sure, you could have been, if you had been taught to pay mere lip service to the nasty bits of the theology. Instead you were taught to take the theology literally. That’s not your fault. The millions of people who are benign Christians were, with a few exceptions, raised as benign Christians.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        I agree.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      So true, darrelle.

  11. Posted October 16, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Well I’ve already broken a few outrage meters nigh eight o’clock this morning.

    Faith in action.

    Mike

  12. Mark R.
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Sick and grim. I hope all those involved get lengthy sentences and rot for a while behind bars; I suspect 2nd degree murder and aggravated assault at least.

  13. Randy Schenck
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I heard correctly but think this group was found to be more of a cult than an official religion with maybe as few as 10 to 20 members.
    Also, the rumor that some of the arrested refused to talk and took the 5th. With this behavior it is unlikely the cult will last very long.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      What’s the difference between a cult and an official religion? The word “official” of course.

      You sound like Rev. Abraham L. Esper:

      “Mr. Esper rejected the assertion that the Word of Life was a real church.

      ‘This is not of God,’ he said of the activities next door. ‘If this was of God, there would be growth. Not destruction.’”
      http://is.gd/3nxdw7

      • Matt G
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        Q: What’s the difference between a religion and a cult?

        A: About a hundred years.

        • Brendan reid
          Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          A religion is just a cult that’s managed to survive its founder’s death.

          • Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            I’m using this definition from now on, thanks!

            • Matt G
              Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

              I like pointing out that Mormonism is a Christian cult, just as Christianity is a Jewish cult.

  14. eric
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Well Hemant is now reporting the (apparent) cause: the kid had asked to leave the ‘church’, which was a sin, and they were beating that sin out of him.

    So the motive turns out to be entirely self-serving and mundane rather than some weird religious proscription: the cult was afraid one of its members would leave and reveal what they were doing, so they came up with a process to coerce/intimidate him into staying, and while carrying it out, they killed him. I wish I could say this was highly unusual or related to their religious beliefs, but it isn’t. We probably hear stories like this every 5-10 years, and the type of cult almost doesn’t matter: they all seem to have a desire to prevent people leaving, and this desire is sometimes taken to extremes. This could just as easily have been some cultish offshoot of Raelians or Scientologists as Christians. Content rarely matters; they all threaten to punish apostates, and some take it to this level.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      A apostasy. The one case where the “crime” & the punishment cannot be attributed to anything other than religion.

      /@

    • rickflick
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      ” I wish I could say this was highly unusual or related to their religious beliefs, but it isn’t.”
      Contrarily, you could say it has everything to do with their religious beliefs. The belief that apostasy is a serious sin worthy of the worst punishment. This is even more dramatic in Islam which specifically calls for death for apostates. Yes, the behavior is also a part of some cults which are not recognized religions, but this is a very religious aspect of such a cult.
      So I’d say it is directly related to their religious beliefs.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Whatever sin(s) these defendants were trying to get the kids to admit, I guess it wasn’t “bearing false witness,” since the defendants themselves lied about the injuries being gunshot wounds at the hospital. I wonder if the arresting authorities had to beat the truth out of them.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Probably not, unfortunately. But it’s a tempting thought and appeals to my baser instincts. One has to disapprove of police brutality on principle but sometimes I feel principles are better reserved for more deserving cases.

      cr

      • Jimbo
        Posted October 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. Ref my comment below

  16. Merilee
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  17. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I know mugshots are misleading but they look as if they couldn’t nudge their IQ into double figures if they collaborated on the test.

    (OK, so it’s highly prejudicial to judge people by their appearance. Do I care? In this specific instance, no).

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      And I don’t think you can blame this entirely on religion. All the participants were sadistic thugs. I don’t care how much they believed, if any of them had a streak of common decency they would have realised fairly early on that what they were doing was just wrong.

      Other believers (as Prof CC pointed out) use their belief to motivate themselves to do good things. I don’t consider belief to be either a justification or an excuse for thuggery.

      cr

      • Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        Sadistic thugs, and this particular brand of cult suited their brand of thuggery. If it wasn’t this one, they would have found something else.

  18. Posted October 17, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logrus and commented:
    “There are no atheists, at least no sane ones, who claim that all the ills of the world would be cured if we only got rid of religion. That’s nonsense: to paraphrase Steve Weinberg, in this world good people (many of them believers) do good things, and bad people do bad things. But there are some cases where religious beliefs motivate people to do bad things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. That is undeniable. This is such a case, and it cost a young man his life. The defendants are the American equivalent of those ISIS members who torture apostates and Yazidi for their own “sins”: not accepting the proper faith.”

  19. Jimbo
    Posted October 17, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Stories like this upset me. To beat one’s own child to death is a crime against humanity and humanism. I imagine what this poor teen must have been saying to his parents–the tears, the appeals–as they tortured him to death. I am not a person who is prone to violence but this story does make me think “an eye for eye.” I’d be perfectly fine with a severe ass-kicking of everyone involved in this incident. Just loosen some teeth, that’s all. For no other reason than they deserve it. Call me vindictive. Maybe a severe beating will make them self-reflect more than they otherwise would in prison.

    I’ve read this site for years and agree with Jerry’s expositions on free will, capital punishment, the inability “to do otherwise,” and the implications for crime and punishment. Though this doesn’t rise to it, there are some individuals who commit such heinous crimes that I don’t much care if they are put to death. Their crimes are so beyond the pale that their human right to live (having so cavalierly deprived others of that same right) is forfeit. I feel guilty admitting it but it’s how I feel. Capital punishment fails on other grounds for me (execution procedures, too many innocents wrongfully executed).


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