Monday, August 26, 2002

Current Events

News Item #1: Sam Dillon, "Fighting Back, Accused Priests Charge Slander," The New York Times, Section 1, Page 1, National Desk, August 25, 2002 (Sunday, Late Edition - Final) reports that some priests are now bringing lawsuits against accusers who, the priests say, defamed them (the priests) by falsely accusing them (the priests) of sexual abuse. A "survivors group" castigated one such defamation lawsuit as "un-Christian, vengeful-style litigation that may scare others who have been abused and are hurting into remaining silent."

If one is a priest who has been falsely accused and maligned, one might instead be inclined to say that a defamation lawsuit is one way to right a grievous wrong.

It's all a matter of perspective -- and, one hopes, of the facts! Right? Yes? No?

News item #2: Today's NYTimes (which has not yet appeared on an internet site that I can access) carries a story about a prisoner who claims to have been wrongly convicted. The story asserts that a DNA test or tests show that the bodily fluids found on pertinent clothing were not the prisoner's and, it is said, this DNA evidence thus shows (or tends to show) the prisoner's innocence of the murder for which he was convicted long ago. The same story notes that this same prisoner signed a written confession, a confession in which the prisoner apparently admitted committing the murder for which he was tried and convicted. To help explain this confession -- to explain why the prisoner might have confessed committing a crime that he did not commit --, the story quotes an expert -- I am reciting this from memory--, the story quotes an expert who asserts that when police officers have in hand the person who they believe to be the perpetrator, such police officers have a strong inclination to assemble evidence that supports their suspicion and their case. The implication is that this inclination -- this desire to wrap up a case against a person believed to be guilty -- explains the confession of the prisoner who is the subject of the NYTimes story. Suppose it is so: suppose police officers will often go to great lengths to secure convictions of the people who they think are the perpetrators. If this is how police often behave and if this inclination is the explanation for this prisoner's confession, might this (hypothesized) inclination also explain why the bodily fluids allegedly found on the pertinent clothing or materials do not match the prisoner's body? You out there -- you lurkers! -- tell this suspicious mind (mine, I mean)--, dear Reader(s), tell this suspicious mind the {fantastic?} possibility that it (this suspicious mind) is entertaining! (Your discovery will be its own reward.)


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