If The Law Is Bullsh*t, You Must Acquit

You and I have the power to end Nixon’s failed War on Drugs once-and-for-all. In fact, it’s our constitutional right to do so. Imagine for a second that you’ve been selected as a juror for the trial of someone like Jacob Lavoro, the 19-year-old Austin, Texas man currently facing anywhere from five years to life in prison for making a pound-and-a-half of pot brownies.

You know that based on the all evidence presented by the prosecution that the defendant is probably guilty, but you and other jurors on the case have serious doubts about convicting him because you know that doing so will ruin the defendant’s life. You’re trapped. The law says one thing, but your conscience says the other. So what do you do?

Easy - you use your power of jury nullification. You declare the defendant “not guilty” regardless of the evidence and let him walk free, “nullifying” the unjust or unfair law. Just like the Supreme Court has the power to strike down laws, you too as an American citizen have the power to reject laws when you’re serving on a jury.

If you haven’t heard of jury nullification before, that’s not all that surprising. The powers that be really don’t want anyone to know about it because it represents a direct threat to the status quo. Defense lawyers, for example, aren’t allowed to talk about a jury’s right to nullify during a trial and saying that you know about nullification is actually one of the easiest ways to avoid jury duty altogether.

In some cases, people who spread the word about jury nullification have even been accused of committing a crime. Just three years ago, for example, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged a 78-year-old former chemistry professor named Julian Heinecken with “jury tampering” for handing out flyers outside a courthouse that informed jurors of their right to nullify.

But however much they try, the authorities will never actually be able to stop people from using their jury nullification powers. That’s because the right to nullify is given to us by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, the same part of the Bill of Rights that gives us the right to trial by jury.

Judge Jerry E. Smith of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear in an opinion he wrote earlier this month deciding the case of United States of America v. Juan Agudin Salazar. According to Smith, when a Texas judge ordered a jury to find Juan Salazar guilty after he confessed in court to drug and gun charges, that judge violated Salazar’s right to have a jury decide whether or not he was guilty or innocent. As Smith wrote, “the Sixth Amendment safeguards even an obviously guilty defendant’s right to have a jury decide guilt or innocence.”

When you really think about it, jury nullification is among the most important rights we have as Americans. It gives us the power and freedom to say “no” to unjust laws. It gives us, “We the People,” the final say over what kind of laws we want enforced. And with Nixon’s failed War on Drugs now in its forty-third year, it’s never been more important for Americans to understand that they have this immense power.

Ever since Nixon declared a War on Drugs in 1971, the incarceration rate has skyrocketed. As a result, the United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world. This is costing us billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. In fact, according to the Washington Post, over the past 20 years, “Spending on incarceration at the state level has outpaced budget increases for just about every other function of government, including education, transportation and welfare. Only spending on Medicaid at the state level has grown faster.”

And because people of color are disproportionately arrested, imprisoned, and charged with drug crimes, the War on Drugs has stunted a lot of the progress we made with integration in the 1960s. Mass incarceration has become such a problem for people of color that sociologist Michelle Alexander now calls it the “new Jim Crow.”

Thankfully, Washington has started to wake up to the failure of the War on Drugs. Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, has made sentencing reform one of his major second term initiatives. But sentencing reform will only get us so far. Each year, hundreds of thousands Americans are sent to prison - sometimes for life - for either possessing or selling harmless drugs like marijuana.

This has to stop and it has to stop now. Americans need to start exercising their Constitutionally-provided power of jury nullification when it comes to nonviolent drug crimes. In lieu of a law passed by Congress, it’s the single best way to stop mass incarceration and end Nixon’s failed War on Drugs once-and-for-all.

To paraphrase Nancy Reagan, it’s time for all of us to “just say no” to convicting anyone of a nonviolent drug crime.


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Right on Thom! Thanks for explaining that little tidbit. The courts today try to bully jurors into blindly following their orders. You are right that just the mention of "jury nullification" is enough to get you out fast. I was once asked if I thought it was possible for a police officer to make a mistake or lie. I said, "Sure! They're human, aren't they?" I was instantly dismissed. I can only imagine what kind of weak minded lemmings they wanted to fill those jury seats with. It's no wonder the courts are always backlogged.

The war on drugs is nothing more than a war against the people. We have to pull out all the stops in order to overturn this cancerous legislation. It is a true shame when a law creates far more victims then the crime ever did. Just say, "No!" to nonviolent drug sentencing.

Craig Bush's picture
Craig Bush 9 years 1 week ago

We passed the $5 pot fine for Ann Arbor in 73. The feds came in after that, and built a building next to campus. They shut that ordinance down. John Sinclair, Peoples Rainbow Party, was arrested for 2 joints and got 10 years. 40 years later we are still locking our children and grandchildren in a cage like an animal for smoking pot? While the bankster who laundered billions of drug money got away with a fine? A cost they pass on to the consumer. These are the people who profited the most from the war on drugs. The money made from prohibition is enormous and the parties raking it in will not go down easily.

Today law enforcement in CA is developing a new fleet of drones and instituting license plate gps technology. Our county supervisors in Santa Cruz voted for a new $12 million dollar prison and new cannabis prohibition laws. Legislators are trying to muzzle the public referendum process. Their mandate is to stall and impede the public will. They passed a measly $10.10 minum wage then delayed it for 2 years. They plan the same for legislation to end cannabis prohibition. The majority of CA's want to end cannabis prohibition now.

There is one way to end the madness. The war on drugs is immoral, unjust and evil in nature. We end cannabis prohibition the way we ended prohibition on alcohol. A constitutional amendment.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 1 week ago

Craig Bush --

Quote Craig Bush:There is one way to end the madness. . . . A constitutional amendment.

Why isn't jury nullification a second way?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago
Quote Craig Bush:There is one way to end the madness. The war on drugs is immoral, unjust and evil in nature. We end cannabis prohibition the way we ended prohibition on alcohol. A constitutional amendment.

Craig Bush ~ Well said! I agree! However, until that opportunity presents itself we gotta do whatever we can to protect one another from this fascist onslaught of ill conceived bad legislation. We must make our desires felt throughout every layer of society. Then, perhaps, the opportunity to amend the constitution will be available.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Thank you Thom, for reminding us of our jury "nullification" powers! I remember reading about this some time ago, but couldn't recall there being a name for it.

But where in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution is nullification even mentioned?! I've got a copy of the Constitution right in front of me, and here's how the Sixth is worded: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense." Unless I'm missing something, Thom, there is NO mention of the power of nullification in that amendment.

I'll confess, I'm disappointed; I'd opened my copy of the Constitution with high expectations (no pun intended).

Anyway next time I'm called on jury duty, I hope it's a pot case so that I can have the satisfaction of exercising this power. Nothing would gratify me more than enabling another victim of pot prohibition to walk free. - Aliceinwonderland

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Craig Bush ~ You do make one very good point. Until we address the root causes of this problem, tactics like jury nullification are like trying to stop a plague of locusts with a fly swatter. The problem isn't resolved. I get it brother. Nevertheless, swatting at something is better than watching. Like the saying goes, "Every little bit helps."

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ You make a very good point. I'm no lawyer, however, having been called for jury duty many times I can only say that if you were to "nullify" a trial the best way to do it would simply be to insist on a verdict of "innocent." No explanation whatsoever. When one juror does that the jury becomes hung. You don't have to give a complete explanation for your decision; and, depending on the instructions the Judge hands out, it is best that you don't. Deliberate defiance of a judge's directions is Contempt of Court. You're in big trouble. You get removed from the jury; and, the case goes on anyway.

However, if you just hold to your guns and insist you believe they are innocent without saying another word, there is nothing I can think of that the court can do. Remember, that's just an opinion, I'm no lawyer.

Here's a good resource on how to "nullify" a jury legally.


Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 1 week ago

Not sure on this one. If the jury is aware of the power they hold, a guilty person could be aquitted if the jury feels that the punishment might be too harsh and this person deserves a second chance. That second chance might be well deserved, and so justice is served. But, a jury could also be offended by a person's attitude or life style and convict, even if that person is inocent of that crime. The reasoning is, even if they might not have done this crime, they must be guilty of something. Convicting out of spite.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Wilie, a jury convincting out of spite is not doing its job. However, considering how many small-minded people have served on juries, I'm sure this has happened many times. - AIW

Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 1 week ago

Tip of the iceberg. Many years ago a young woman was abducted from a gas station where she worked. A man was convicted of this crime on circumstantial evidence. All the locals were so sure he did it. She was never found. A juror was interviewed after the trial and asked how a conviction could have come to pass with such weak evidence. His answer? " I gotta live here when this is over."

Stella Jane's picture
Stella Jane 9 years 1 week ago

THANKS Thom Hartman! LOUD & CLEAR! What a waste of energy time money and HUMAN life.

Feed ALL children worldwide for ONE MILLION $$$ of each One Billion spent on WAR. FIGHTING costs WAY MORE than FEEDING !!

Get with the program folks ! Start this in your neighborhood!

Feed ALL children Educate ALL people to feed themselves and others

Our RIGHT is to establish ideal human habitat; our DUTY for 7 generations. ALL kept as PUBLIC BENEFIT controlled only by real HUMANS, on GAIA our living planet.


Gather in fields: the congregation.

Plant seeds: the ceremony.

PRAY during the growing/watering.

Share WORLDWIDE: the communion.

Peace n Planting our true way of life.

99% feel the same ...... Feed ALL children Educate ALL people

Please BEE REAL -- get a hive going with somebody anywhere!

BEE ProACTIVE aka benefit the 7 generations in all you do!

PS MAKING IT HAPPEN LOCALLY in your neighborhood. Thought this local action peace plan might be at the heart of our prayers.... we could rent church kitchens and make wonderful BREAKFAST in YOUR POCKET cookies and donated organic milk for school children. Friday night we use the kitchen again to make WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA with ten vegetables and mushrooms. Salad bar too, all organic fresh!

NO MOVIE NIGHTS -- instead there are ten tables with crafts and skills mentors sitting there to help the YOUTH. A great fisherman, a basket maker, leather worker, food preservation teacher and other useful survival skills teachers /life guides.

Extraemail 9 years 1 week ago

Hi Tom. I AGREE on your points on Jury Nullification, the failed War on Drugs, and excessive punishments for pot. HOWEVER, do not use Jacob Lavoro (19-year-old Austin, Texas man) as your example.

This kid was not simply making a few pot brownies. He was making Hashish Oil brownies, and was making dozens of squares for sole purpose of distribution and sales. He was selling brownies at $25 per square, and had a long written list of clients. He was reported to police when the smoke and fumes from cooking the Hashish Oil was going into his neighbor’s apartment units, and a pregnant woman became concerned for the health of her fetus. This kid and his attorney have been doing many interview shows to promote the idea that he may get “Life” for simply making some pot brownies for recreational use. The possible sentence is 5 years to Life. He will not get more than 5 years, and will probably get some probation and an ankle sensor. THIS 19 YEAR OLD KID IS A DRUG DEALER THAT GOT CAUGHT.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Extraemail ~ So what? If he was using a residential unit for commercial purposes you warn, you fine, you don't arrest and jail. Maybe the guy was unaware that his cooking could be smelled by anyone else. Thom is trying to distinguish between nonviolent drug crimes and REAL CRIMES. There is no reason non violent drug crimes should carry the same weight as violent crimes. In fact, drugs shouldn't be illegal in the first place. Personally I think they should open the door of every prison and release every non violent drug convict with a complete pardon regardless of what drug they possessed or sold. The idea that we treat people for possession and distribution of controlled substances the same way we treat murderers, robbers, rapists, child molesters, and kidnappers is absolutely irresponsible and ridiculous.

dianhow 9 years 1 week ago

I tend to agree Thom US so called criminal justice system is a joke. Eric Holder seems weak and ineffective. Wealthy & well connected are above the law ! We are sick to death of our two tiered system. We have NO public servants Its we who serve them ! Great wages, perks, vacations, 'bribes on side' while they ignore what the people want..and vote as they please/ as lobbyists demand. People Must organize IF we hope to get our messages through .

Call write e mail often WH line M-F till 5 pm 202 456 1111 www.whitehouse.gov

www.congress.gov     www.senate.gov      Demand the President & Congress represent families, workers, women - NOT lobbyists .

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Oooohhhh….. Hashish oil brownies; DOZENS OF THEM… OooohhhhHeinous crime!

Seriously "Extra", if we don't want 19-year-olds in the business of selling mind-altering pastries to pay the rent, then the only logical solution is to end pot prohibition. Tax it, regulate it and be done with it.

Aside from that, hash oil is no big deal. It's just a product extracted from the weed; a little harder on the lungs perhaps, but the same psychoactive ingredient. When eaten rather than smoked, it's safer than ANY drug, prescription or black market. That pregnant neighbor of Jacob's was just a no-count busybody, too stupid to know better than to make a big, loud fuss over nothing. The only risk is jail, for those selling and consuming the stuff.

Pot prohibition is bullshit. It's also unenforceable. These gestapo control freaks can keep on busting hundreds of thousands of potheads each year while seizing and slashing and burning into oblivion.... it doesn't even scratch the surface of what's available. People will continue doing whatever they please, no matter how hard the authorities try to thwart this industry. Pot is here to stay, whether the oligarchs like it or not. That's why it's being decriminalized, in state after state. I hope I live long enough to see this bogus, corporate-fascist piece of legislation eliminated for good. It's ruined lots of lives, and all for NOTHING.

By the way, were you aware that the vast majority of drug deaths in the USA (by a wide margin) are from legal shit; pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco? So much for the "health" argument against ending pot prohibition. Let's get real. Lawmakers couldn't care less about our health; otherwise we'd have universal health care, trans fats would be outlawed (along with GMOs) and the FDA wouldn't be asleep at the wheel... to cite just a few examples. - Aliceinwonderland

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

P.S. Right on, Marc! You rock. And let me remind you prohibitionists "out there" that murderers, rapists, stalkers, child molesters, kidnappers and other violent offenders often do way less time in the slammer than pot smokers... if they're convicted at all. Meanwhile we've got war criminals still skating free, along with those bankster toadies who nearly trashed this economy and foreclosed on millions of homeowners. Our so-called "legal justice system" is a goddam joke. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ I believe the only way to really end this stupid war on drugs is to legalize everything. We could have fair and reasonable regulation of substances that have proven to have an impact on health. For instance, I would support licensing people who want to purchase dangerous substances like heroin, cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol for personal recreational purposes. Like a car license, the applicant would simply have to learn about and pass a test on the drug desired. That way we could assure people know what they are doing before they do it. Also, we would be able to track the amount of consumption as well as record any and all health consequences for society to better understand these drugs and even better inform the masses. If people want to volunteer as guinea pigs they should be allowed to; however, society should benefit from the expense and sacrifice.

Consequently, I'd also support strong enforcement of anyone who uses such a license to purchase drugs for other people who don't have one. That crime should carry a very stiff penalty. Of course, I don't see that law becoming an issue as long as we make the drugs readily available to anyone who wants them.

I would also support coordinating this information with a single payer health care agency--when one comes into existence--whereas if someone with a license was warned that smoking cigarettes--for instance--can cause lung cancer and did so anyway, it should automatically increase their out of pocket expenses if they acquire lung cancer. In fact, I would even support an increase in that individuals personal income taxes to cover that eventuality. It is also time people actually pay for the consequences of their actions. Consequently, if someone decides to quit and renounce their license, they should be equally rewarded with restoration of all their benefits--provided they quit before they get sick.

It is unwise to prohibit! When you do so, you only increase the things appeal exponentially. This example is played out in the creation myth of the Book of Genesis with God prohibiting Adam and Eve to eat of the apple. Look at the disaster that turned out to be. Not unlike the disaster of Prohibition of the 30's. The time has come for humanity to grow up and permanently prohibit all prohibition.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ By the way, forget licensing pot. That stuff should be sold next to broccoli in the supermarket to anyone 18 and over. We already know more than enough about pot to know that it is more healthy to use than anything else. It should be encouraged to be used as a food because the long term effect on lungs isn't quite yet understood; and, may never be understood unless we legalize it.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Marc, I agree about legalizing everything. We own our bodies; this concerns our money and our lives; there are no victims, except as a consequence of prohibition. The reason I put all the emphasis on pot is for the simple reason that pot is the only one of various drugs on the black market that is virtually harmless. Therefore there is no legitimate argument against legalizing it. That said, I need to also acknowledge the fact that there's no argument that can be made against legalizing heroin or cocaine (to cite but two examples) that could not also be made against keeping alcohol & tobacco legal.

I only advocate the licensing of pot as an alternative to prohibition. I'm just being realistic, Marc. It's an inevitability that pot will be legalized sooner or later. But I think it's highly unlikely that pot will be taking a giant leap from the black market and medical marijuana clinics directly to the produce section of your local grocery store. What a pipe dream! (Pun intended.)

You needn't convince me that pot is less harmful than anything else people use to get high. I pointed that out in my last post already. If it was legal and actually affordable, I think many people would be more inclined to eat it than smoke it, eliminating any health risks.

The only point you've made where I disagree is the suggestion that anyone be stuck with extra out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare, even if an illness is the direct consequence of a person's bad habits. Either we have a single-payer system or we don't. I'd rather that no one ever have to look at an ugly-ass medical bill for any reason, including bad habits like smoking. I think a much more appropriate way to deal with the problems associated with alcohol and tobacco use would be to make these products prohibitively expensive. If tobacco cost as much as pot currently does ($200 an ounce), it would raise enough money to cover whatever medical expenses are incurred from using that product. The bulk of the money could be put in a special fund to cover the cost of such illnesses. It would also be a way to track consumption, if records are kept on the purchases of these products.

I think that basically, Marc, you and I are on the same page with this issue, even if we differ on some of the logistics. - Aliceinwonderland

P.S. Let me remind you, not everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

An afterthought: Marc's point that "God prohibiting Adam & Eve to eat the apple" and "what a disaster that turned out to be...." Are you suggesting God makes mistakes?! That's heresy! Off with your head!!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ I can agree with all your statements about licensing pot and not involving health care. You made some very good points.

Quote Aliceinwonderland:An afterthought: Marc's point that "God prohibiting Adam & Eve to eat the apple" and "what a disaster that turned out to be...." Are you suggesting God makes mistakes?! That's heresy! Off with your head!!

However you are wrong in assuming that I'm suggesting God makes mistakes. Allow me to explain. First lets assume for a second that God is real and the creation story isn't just a myth. God by nature must have known before he prohibited the forbidden fruit that mankind would not be able to resist the temptation to eat of it. After all isn't God supposed to be perfect and immortal? Isn't he supposed to see all time past and future? The only logical conclusion is that it must have all been part of the BIG plan. You remember the forbidden fruit was from the "Tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

It is the responsibility of any good father to teach his children well. Therefore I have to conclude that God wanted and fully intended mankind to learn that lesson from the beginning. However, like any good father he did not want to be responsible for causing the pain that goes along with that lesson. The same way a parent might intentionally let a child burn themselves or fall down to learn why getting burned and falling down are bad things, God wisely set up mankind for their own downfall. He knew that paradise was not the classroom to teach the lesson of good and evil. He also knew that by prohibiting he was setting mankind up for an irresistible yearning. In this way, with one command, God taught mankind both the knowledge of good and evil and the lesson of prohibition. At the same time he washed his hands of all the consequences by giving full warning beforehand and putting the full blame on mankind. Personally, I've always admired the compassion and cunning of that lesson plan. Apparently, mankind is still learning these lessons. It is not God's fault that mankind is a slow learner.

Henceforth God does not make mistakes--mankind does!

PS Sorry for the theological/philosophical discourse; however, you asked the question. Also, thanks for asking the question!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Remember Marc, I am an athiest! And that was meant to be a joke. But just for the hell of it... if "God" made humans, then why did "God" make humans such slow learners and why is this not "God's" fault? And what's the point of making fruit only to forbid it?!

I can't get over this twisted idea of Eve having been created from Adam's rib. What a fantasy. That's just patriarchy's inability to digest reality: that man is created in the womb and that females are the gateway to life and - heaven forbid - there's a heap of power in a woman's ability to slam that gate shut at will, if she so desires.

Native Americans rejected the Christian god for being angry and punitive. I think they were on to something. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago
Quote Aliceinwonderland:Remember Marc, I am an athiest! And that was meant to be a joke. But just for the hell of it... if "God" made humans, then why did "God" make humans such slow learners and why is this not "God's" fault?

Aliceinwonderland ~ If you must know, God didn't make humans slow. He made them in his image. One day with God is a thousand years with mankind. We are slow learners by our own standards. By the standards of God we are still children; and, the class isn't over yet.

It isn't God's fault because His end's always justify His means.

Obviously, an atheist may understand that concept; however, I doubt they believe it. That's just fine too. After all, we're just hypothetically speaking to explain a very relevant moral from a very ancient myth.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ I never liked the patriarchal slant on Eve either. That is why I carefully left her rib and encounter with the serpent out of the conversation. I guess any story that old is going to be tampered with by someone with an agenda. I just like to find the sound moral lessons in these stories and toss the nonsense.

I also agree with the Native American assertion. However, it is based on the behavior of the Christian representatives at the time and not God. Nevertheless, if I were in their shoes I would have certainly came to the same conclusion. I think it was Gandhi who once said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians." I agree with that too.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

One last thing before I turn in for the night. The Native Americans were not atheists. They were very devout believers in God. They called it The Great Spirit; yet, it was simply their perspective of God. Personally, I feel their religion was just as valid as any other. In fact, I believe it was wiser, superior, more genuine, and closer to God than anything coming out of the East. Eastern religions are more about greed than God. The Native American religions are some of the very few in the world that I would have loved to take part in; and, hopefully one day will have the opportunity.

With that, Nighty Night!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Marc, we gotta be careful in discussing Native Americans. They were a menagerie of cultures and religions. I never claimed that they were athiests. But their concepts of "God", contrasted with Christianity's version, was like night & day.

Anyway I gotta hand it to ya Marc, for a Christian you're pretty friggin' cool. You definitely are an original, and an independent thinker to boot.

Sleep tight my friend... - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ Thank you! That was very kind.

Quote Aliceinwonderland:Marc, we gotta be careful in discussing Native Americans. They were a menagerie of cultures and religions. I never claimed that they were athiests. But their concepts of "God", contrasted with Christianity's version, was like night & day.

Isn't that the truth? Isn't that wonderful? Isn't variety the spice of life? I don't know how many times Jesus chastised his apostles for judging and condemning other religious leaders. I can only imagine what he might have said about the "Christian" influence in Native America. However, Jesus was so profoundly logical and consistent in his ways I can only imagine it would have been something like, 'You see those people and how they live? Do you not think that if it wasn't pleasing in the eye of God that they would be allowed to continue for so many generations? LEAVE THEM ALONE!'

It's not so hard to imagine. One of my favorite lyrics is from the song "St. Stephen" by the Grateful Dead. St. Stephen was the first Saint who began preaching right after Jesus was crucified--basically picking up right where Jesus left off. They killed him too. The lyric I like best is, "Can you answer? Yes I can! What would be the answer to THE ANSWER MAN?"

St. Stephen was a great example to everybody... Who needs the Church?

Thanks for listening. I've enjoyed the conversation very much. For an atheist you certainly have tolerance and an open mind.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Marc, that is the ultimate compliment to any athiest: an open mind! What keeps it open is simply accepting that I don't have all the answers; being okay with that, not knowing the unknowable...

I don't reckon Matt would share that assessment of me, however. On another topic, we've been duking it out over this issue of private vs. public education. I just finished telling him that discussion is over. We're never going to agree, and I see no point in hammering it out with him any longer. A colossal waste of time! - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ Matt has a vested interest in private education. I went into it with an open mind. After having experienced both I can say with all certainty that I prefer public education. The resources are better, the attitudes are better, and the choices are better. Sure private schools would love to get their hands on public funds; but, what are they going to do with them? Do you realize that in a Catholic parochial school that Catholic religious education is mandatory? Do you realize that in a Catholic parochial school that attendance of mass is mandatory? From simply a Constitutional perspective that is the end of that argument. You cannot force feed spirituality into children. That is the job of the family, and the children themselves. Personally, I prefer to wait till they are adults and can make an informed decision. Anything else is indocronization and child abuse. I certainly don't want my tax dollars going to support child abuse. However, if some parents want to dig deep to inflict this kind of indoctrination on their own children they should be free to do it.

If a parochial school wants public funds they would have to surrender their entire agenda to adhere to public policies. That means religion has to include equal time for all world religions; and, be an elective instead of a mandatory course. That means that all references to any particular religion--such as statues, scriptures, masses, churches, even the name of the school has to also conform to that rule and be removed for a publicly sanctioned environment. That simply is never going to happen. If it did, the private school would completely lose its edge fast. As such the idea of school vouchers is dead in the water. The only way private and public schools can function effectively to their individual charters is through separate financing the way they do now.

Some people are so duped by their religious institutions that they fail to grasp the importance of the separation of church and state. If this is the type of citizen parochial schools produce I would submit to you that parochial schools also represent a grave threat to national security.

(PS Feel free to quote me on whatever blog you are arguing on. I don't have the time to look for it myself but would love to give a piece of my mind.)

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 1 week ago

Thanks, Marc. Your feedback is highly appreciated; ditto your perspective.

Please don't misunderstand me. Public education, even in its best days, had much room for improvement. But it is still the best option, serving the interests of more people than any kind of privatized education system ever will.

The way you've described the indoctrination practices in religious schools, it's not hard for me to understand the source of Palindromedary's hostility and anger towards religion in general. His own childhood ordeals with indoctrination sounded pretty bad. Must have been traumatic for him.

The thread where Matt & I were locking horns over this issue is the one titled "The End Of Choice", dated May 19th. Judging from this last post of yours, I think you could add valuable input to this discussion about education, should the spirit move you. However I'm done with it. I've said all I have to say on that topic, to no avail where Matt is concerned. I appreciate you reminding me of the vested interest he personally has in privatized education; makes it easier for me to take his asinine comments with a grain of salt. In light of how self-centered his outlook seems to be in general, I need only consider the source.

I sincerely want Matt to feel welcome on this forum. He has as much right to participate here as anyone. I don't want to see him driven away by those of us who abhor his views. Nevertheless, I do occasionally reach the saturation point with him and must distance myself, long enough to chill and calm down. That guy can really push my buttons.

Outside of global warming, I view privatization (i.e. fascism) as the greatest threat to our wellbeing, even our very survival. Earlier today, Thom had a guest on his show, a woman who had written a scary article about Detroit; specifically, how Detroit's politicians are paying off the debts of that bankrupted city. They're doing it by selling off everything, from Detroit's cultural/historical treasures right down to their utilities. Even their water is being privatized. Consequently all these poor folks in Detroit are having their water shut off. And this is freaking me out, because it's gonna spread like a virus. If this trend isn't nipped in the bud, we're all gonna wind up in the same boat, with our water sources held hostage. These private companies can charge whatever they want. Next thing we know, what has happened to healthcare in this country will be happening to our water systems. Suddenly people will find their access to water under threat. Just thinking about this, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Like Thom pointed out, we can't live long without water. The only thing we need more urgently to stay alive is air. When our water is monopolized by these privatizers, we are in deep, deep trouble.

I hope Thom makes this the focus of one of his introductory posts in the near future. I wish I could go more into detail about Detroit's crisis, but I was knee-deep in errands and unable to listen to that entire segment on his show. (SIGH)

For lack of a better phrase, I can't help but say, God help us all…. - Aliceinwonderland

ChicagoMatt 9 years 1 week ago
Matt has a vested interest in private education.

Having more students in my class via vouchers would just be more work for me, not any extra income. If anything, I have a "vested" interest to have fewer students. I'm just offering a solution that would actually help real students, in the real world, and in the near future if it were put into action.

- And not all private schools are parochial.

- And attending Mass at a Catholic school isn't mandatory anymore. You can sit it out if you want. You don't even have to be Catholic to come to a Catholic school.

- And the relgious program I teach is actually called "World Religions". Granted, we spend a disproportionate amount of time of the Abrahamic religions. My students are always very curious about Jews and Muslims. I do my best to teach them about Eastern religions as well, but since I myself am no expert, there's a lot of just reading from the book and watching movies for those units.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 1 week ago

ChicagoMatt ~ Sorry. No public funds can ever go for anything with a particular religious slant... That is "favoring an establishment of religion." It is forbidden by the Constitution and for good reason. Now if you are suggesting using public funds to finance higher learning academic institutions that don't have any leaning toward an "establishment of religion"--like Yale or Harvard for instance--then we might just agree on something. Personally I think education is a right and not a privilege. Public financing should cover all academic education from kindergarten to grad school. The only exception are schools run by an "establishment of religion." They can never be eligible!

ChicagoMatt 9 years 1 week ago

Both Harvard and Yale have churches on their grounds, so we can't give them one cent of government money, right? Most universities have student religious clubs, so any student who got any money from the government would have to sign an agreement saying they wouldn't join those clubs, right?

Better stop spending government money on religious-run hospitals while we're at it. Can't have any grey area at all between church and state. I don't know about where you live, but about half of the hospitals around here are run by Catholics. They get direct federal funding, AND they accept Medicare and Medicaid. We need to put an end to that right now - separation of church and state and all. Those poor and underserved neighborhoods where those hospitals are - those people will just have to figure something else out.

Also we're going to need to fire any military chaplain or other religious figure on the government payroll. On a ship or overseas and want to celebrate your religion? Tough. About to die and need a priest to confess to, because you honestly believe it matters? Sorry. We were not allowed to pay that guy to be here, or give him space on our ship or base, since it's government property.

goat-on-a-stick's picture
goat-on-a-stick 9 years 1 week ago

Something no one is talking about: as was mentioned on your show, a potential juror could be denied based upon him even knowing about jury nullification. Combine it with the fact that if you clearly state you are against a law that the case is about, they will probably not let you become a juror, it seems almost impossible to both support jury nullification AND be a perfectly honest juror when asked questions during the jury interview process.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 6 days ago

ChicagoMatt ~ Let me put it this way, if a government run institution wants to allow a religious organization to provide a requested service to its clients then it should be allowed. However, there should be no restriction of any other religion as well. Freedom of religion shall not be infringed upon. However, that religious organization should never receive money to run a government institution.

You are right, if a church is running a hospital and receiving public funds to do so CLOSE IT DOWN or TAKE IT OVER. Then, you can let that same church open up a chapel somewhere in that hospital's basement. Priests who volunteer can perform last rites as requested.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 6 days ago

What I don't understand is why a church would even be motivated to run a hospital, unless they wanted to (AHEM!) impose their religious rules and restrictions on women of childbearing age.

Goat-On-A-Stick, I agree that jury nullification can be quite the balancing act. My husband once got himself excused from jury duty by telling the judge, on no uncertain terms, exactly what he thinks of this stupid marijuana law. However I'd take the other approach, in the hopes of letting some pothead beat the rap and walk free. I would get immense satisfaction from that. We've got too many people languishing in prison who should never have been there in the first place. I hope one day to have an opportunity to exercise this power of dismissal; not only sparing someone the grief and hardship of incarceration, but depriving this private for-profit prison system another victim to use as a "cash cow". - Aliceinwonderland

ChicagoMatt 9 years 6 days ago
What I don't understand is why a church would even be motivated to run a hospital, unless they wanted to (AHEM!) impose their religious rules and restrictions on women of childbearing age.

Because taking care of the sick is something Catholics like to do. There are over 600 Catholic-run hospitals in the US, which is about 12% of all hospitals. A little over 15 million people go to their emergency rooms each year.

In 2002, which is the only year I can find statistics for, the Catholic hospitals got about 45 Billion in federal funds.

They WILL give out emergency contraception (Plan B pills). They WILL NOT perform selective abortions. If the woman's life is in danger, they will perform the abortion. If not, they will refer you to a place that will do the abortion. They will not perform assisted suicides, but those are illegal anyway. They will turn off life support if the family wishes and the doctors agree that there is no hope of recovery.

And yes, they help people from any religion.

I'm getting all of this from here:


That's just the Catholics. Other religions run hospitals as well.

Churches also run senior housing places, nursing homes, after-school care for poor kids, emergency shelters, food banks, counselling for the mentally ill, and a wide variety of other good works that church-bashers like to ignore. Sometimes they get government money for those things as well.

I believe the state of IL just took away the Catholic church's charter for placing students in foster homes and adoption services, since the Church refused to place children with homosexual couples. The politicians got to make a statement and get a pat on the back from gay-rights groups, but the children who the Church were helping were just pushed into an already-overcrowded public social services system. I'm sure they are greatful that those politicians made that stand.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 6 days ago

I'll admit, I'm pleasantly surprised to learn Catholic hospitals give out emergency contraceptions, and perform abortions when the mother's life is in danger. However I think it's only fair the state of Illinois yanked the Catholic Church's charter for arranging adoptions and so forth, for refusing to place kids with gay couples. They really need to get over that hang-up; after all, it is the 21st Century! Besides, some gay people make excellent parents. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 6 days ago

ChicagoMatt ~ It is all well and good that a Catholic hospital helps people. It is all well and good that a Catholic School educates people. However, at what point do you consider this scripture:

Quote The Gospel according to Matthew:Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

ChicagoMatt ~ At what point does what God knoweth the things you have need of and when the Government knoweth what things you have need of intersect? I would be most interested in knowing at what point what the Government can provide supersedes what God can provide? Are you really responsible citizens or hypocrites of the highest order?

ChicagoMatt 9 years 5 days ago
However I think it's only fair the state of Illinois yanked the Catholic Church's charter for arranging adoptions and so forth, for refusing to place kids with gay couples. They really need to get over that hang-up; after all, it is the 21st Century! Besides, some gay people make excellent parents.
I agree that they need to get over it, and that gay couples can make excellent parents. For the record, homosexuality hardly ever comes up in the Church. The media has more of a hang-up over the Church than the Church has over homosexuality.

At any rate, the state did it, and the only people who suffered were the children who got pushed into the public system.

ChicagoMatt 9 years 5 days ago

I'm not sure if I follow your argument Marc. Jesus spends a lot of time talking about taking care of the sick/needy/widows, etc... I'm sure you're familiar with the "corporal and spiritual works of mercy" of the Catholic church. I'm just guessing that's the basis for both Catholic-run hospitals and universities.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 4 days ago

Chi Matt -- Now if we could only get those politicians to take away all those tax breaks they give to religious organizations. With that extra revenue we would expand the social services to take care of that overcrowding.

ChicagoMatt 9 years 4 days ago

Chuck - I honestly wish the Dems would try that. They would lose any relgious voters they still had, and that money would never actually make it to social services in high enough amounts to change anything. It would just be thrown into the general fund and pissed away on interest payments for all of the borrowing the state is currently doing.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 4 days ago
Quote ChicagoMatt:I'm sure you're familiar with the "corporal and spiritual works of mercy" of the Catholic church. I'm just guessing that's the basis for both Catholic-run hospitals and universities.

ChicagoMatt ~ Then you would be wrong. I'm not familiar with "corporal and spiritual works of mercy" of the Catholic church. If you think I need to be then you missed my point altogether. As Jesus said, the good works of man need no help other than the help provided from God. That is a paraphrase for a scripture that you obviously don't get.

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