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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Obsolete Man

There are times when the only way that what I want to say is through someone elses words. At this time in my life, those words come from he pen of Rod Serling, and through the lips of Burgess Merideth and Fritz Weaver.

The episode is "The Obsolete Man." It was broadcast on "The Twilight Zone" June 2, 1962.

In a future totalitarian state, Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith) is a man put on trial for the crime of being "obsolete". His occupation as a librarian is a crime punishable by death, as the State has eliminated literacy. He also believes in God, also punishable by death, as the State has declared that there are no Gods. He is prosecuted by the Chancellor (Fritz Weaver), who announces in front of the assembled court that Wordsworth, in not being an asset to the State, shall be liquidated.

After being convicted, Wordsworth is allowed to choose his method of execution. He cryptically requests that he be granted a personal assassin to whom he may privately disclose his preferred method of execution. He also requests that his execution be televised. Both requests are granted by the court.

We have always had ways to, shall we say, assign humans. Thoughts, faiths, beliefs, all controlled not by a government, but by society's unprinted rule. Ther are many ways that it is done, by suspicion ("Are you conservative/liberal/black/white/Christian enough?"), the leading question, the assumption that you must be A in order to be B. And when subtlety does not work, the time honoured methods of shunning, the boycott, ridicule. Then imprisonment. And when all else fails, death.

This story is a cautioionary one. Imagine what may happen if a small number of people truly wanted to go their own path, and not the path of the mob. We are coming dangerously close to that mob rule when, if your thoughts, action, life, faith do not meet specifics, death would be the only remedy. And, as the tale above shows, some who advocate that may very well become its victims.

It has been said that those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. It is my sad duty to report that not only are we on the way to repetition, we may add to it. Live, in living color. And in high-definition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Examine the following:

EXHIBIT A: A two-year-old boy was badly beaten six months ago in New Ulm. The child suffered three broken ribs, a broken leg, a broken hand and severe bruising over most of his body.
The man accused of beating the child is Rian Butcher. Butcher cared for the boy while his mother was at work. He entered an Alford Plea to the court last week. That means he believes there is enough evidence that would probably lead a jury to convict him, but he is not admitting guilt.

A Brown County judge sentenced Butcher to 210 days in jail, five years probation and a three-thousand dollar fine. If he violates probation, Butcher could serve a 15-month prison term.

He has a lengthy history of criminal convictions for violent acts against women and children. The grandparents of the two-year-old boy were outraged by the sentence. Dave Hatch told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that his family does not think the Brown County Attorney's Office did its job. Prosecutors say they did not think they had enough evidence to gain a felony conviction with a five-year prison term and that's why they accepted the plea.

The judge in the case, told family members that because of the plea arrangement and the lesser charges, his hands were tied and this was the toughest penalty he could hand out under the law.

EXHIBIT B: A Lafayette woman was sentenced this morning to a year on home detention and two years on supervised probation for hitting her 13-year-old daughter.

Cassandra B. Davis, 33, pleaded guilty last month in Tippecanoe Superior Court 2 to battery on a child resulting in serious bodily injury, a Class D felony; residential entry, a Class D felony; and invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor.

Davis, who formerly went by her maiden name, Cassandra Robinson, is the biological mother of Aiyana Gauvin, a 4-year-old Lafayette girl who died in March 2005 following months of abuse by her stepmother, Michelle Gauvin, and biological father, Christian Gauvin.

Former Parkview Christian School teacher Carrie Perkins pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of sodomy and rape for sexual relations she had with a teenage student.

Perkins, 30, pleaded guilty to three counts of rape second degree and three counts of sodomy second degree in Eufaula Circuit Court. She originally faced six counts each of rape and sodomy, according to Circuit Clerk David Nix.

Perkins was sentenced to 15 years for each count – split with three years to serve for each count. Those sentences will run concurrently with the 14-year sentence she received in Houston County approximately six weeks ago.

Perkins, who was a fifth grade teacher at Parkview Christian School, had a relationship with a 15-year-old PCS student. According to a Eufaula Police Department incident report that was filed last May, the student stated that he and Perkins had sexual relations four or five times since the start of 2010.


Now all three were senteced for crimes believed abhorrant to society. But there is an injustice. Can you spot it?