Judeo-Christian doctrine and moral freedom

I did a post yesterday in which I quoted from an interview with Michael Cappi regarding the fact that Islam, unlike Judaism or Christianity, is not a religion that concerns itself with broader moral issues that rise above mere tribal law. I’d actually made precisely the same point in an earlier post, here. In connection with this most recent post, however, I got the following comment, which I reprint here verbatim, and which I thought was absolutely fascinating:

this person became interested in islam for what ? to embrace it or to pick, and nick and misquate,and then on top pour all the filth on islam with the likes of Rushdie, Ali Sana,Ali Hersi etc the so called humanists who have nothing to offer but nothingness,while islam comes with the full package, and answers for all your problums and they can not stomach it.they know that islam has tasted rule and one who tastes it wants it at any cast,and these poor humanist and winging liberals will be the loosers. their ways and rules have every one in mess , the biggest problum man faces is , alcaholism,the answer is in islam,gambling, again the answer is in islam,pornography,and degrading of your sisters and mothers,the answer is islam,rape ,every year over 20000 your sisters are raped in Amercia just alone,you aply the islamic law and the rate will be 0.01%,while on the other hand the law of these human wishy woshers allow the rapest to get a few years in jail where he fed and made even stronger so when he gets out he goesand rapes the other sister. shame on you ,keep listening to these devils and you will loose your daughters wholesale. so come on people look at islam your self and avoid these wingers and scare mongers. (Emphasis mine.)

As you can see, the part that really intrigued me was the bit in the second half about rape, since it seemed to highlight the way in which both Islamists and the Left view people, and may go a long way to explaining why people professing these radically different ideologies (Leftism and Islamism) can work so well together. The fact is that, although they devise different (or no punishments) for whatever crime is before them, neither believes in free will or in man’s ability to make moral decisions independent of his immediate circumstances.

Let me start with Islam’s view of free will. Actually, considering that “Islam” means “submission,” I probably don’t have to do this discussion at all, since the name tends to be a giveaway about the religion’s approach to free will. Nevertheless, I’ll still give you my little analysis explaining why I think that Islam denies that man has a moral capacity that can override his animal instincts.

It’s obvious that Islam is misogynistic. What’s less obvious is its misanthropy. The blatant misogyny is, of course, known to all of you and tends to fall into the three categories: (1) the restrictions placed on and abuses against women’s bodies and their brains, (2) the horrible punishments enacted against them for deviating from Muslim norms, and (3) the honor killings that reflect their chattel status within a male dominated culture.

The misanthropy is less overt, but it actually lies behind all these horrors visited against Muslim women: In Islam, men are viewed as so weak and animal-like that they cannot be expected to resist women’s lures. That is, a man who sees a woman uncovered or unaccompanied cannot be expected to resist taking her sexually. He is helpless.

This view of men, as utterly unable to overcome their basic instincts is, to my mind, a pathetic view that denies the possibility of free will, moral calculation or strength of character. All men are animals, controlled by their lust, and all women are mere sexual objects who must be erased for men’s protection. The Sharia laws reflect this debased view of human kind in the its punishments are extreme and violent.  They assume that men (and women) will be dissuaded from wrongful acts only if they are subject to death, dismemberment or whipping.  The concept of redemptive punishment for crimes less than intentional murder — the type of punishment that sees you lose freedom, time and dignity, but that is not a brutal physical assault against you, and that holds out the possibility of starting fresh — is alien in this world view.  In Islam, men cannot be trusted to make good decisions at the front end, nor can they be trusted to learn from bad experiences at the back end — only the most violent dissuasion will work against them.

Things on the Left aren’t much better, although the Left’s degraded view of mankind is a little bit less obvious. It starts with the Leftist principle that all people are controlled by their environment. If you’re poor; if you’re black; if you’re Hispanic; if you’re female; if you’re the victim of spousal, parental or sexual abuse; if you live in the Third World; if you’re in a former colony — all of these factors mean that, if your conduct is violent and antisocial, you get a pass. You cannot be held responsible for your actions.

The above paragraph is fairly abstract, so let me reduce it to more concrete terms. The view that environmental factors are so strong that people are incapable of exerting self-control or making moral choices appears most clearly in the way liberals view African Americans. My default example is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots. Although there was no doubt that he had tried to kill Denny, Williams was still acquitted.

In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Williams, a 20-year-old black man, was acquitted in October of most charges against him by a sympathetic jury.” I believe that, had Williams been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement and the verdict that preceded it would have been held up by the liberal establishment as disgusting, horrific and vile. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place. No one seemed concerned that a young man, a human being, had behaved like an animal, and no one seemed to expect better from him.

The next obvious example of this kind of liberal nihilism regarding man’s moral capacity is, of course, the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days of the hurricane, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist, was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.

Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the media was perfectly ready, with the best intentions in the world, to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly have begun reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)

Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports to the effect that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)

Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.

Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are economic/racial victims and are therefore incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other (read:  white) races.

As I said, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to blacks, of course. It’s part of the whole Marxist/Freudian soup that hit mainstream America big time in the 1950s. West Side Story is a frivolous paradigm of both this belief system and of a moment in time when liberal American was still capable of taking a step back from, and laughing at, these Marxist belief systems about race, economics and class. Mr. Bookworm recently screened the movie for the kids and, watching it, I was struck, as always, by the utterly shallow thinking about race and economics that lies behind it. I’m not discounting the fact that there were racial tensions in all emerging immigrant neighborhoods, as there still are, but this musical makes very clear that the real issue lies with the doctrine that was to take over in America — it’s not the malfeasor’s fault, it’s our fault because he is poor.

As I said, West Side Story is an early example of this now pervasive thinking, so liberals were still able to recognize the problems it could create when it came to assigning blame for wrongdoing — as demonstrated by Stephen Sondheim’s patter song “Gee, Officer Krupke“:

ACTION
Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!

[snip]

Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!

[snip]

DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.

ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.

DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.

ACTION (Sings)
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!

A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!

[snip]

A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!

ACTION
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!

BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Eek!
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!

[snip]

DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.

A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.

BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.

DIESEL
The trouble is he stinks.

A-RAB
The trouble is he’s growing.

BABY JOHN
The trouble is he’s grown.

ALL
Krupke, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!

I’m no Sondheim fan, but that is a brilliant song that exposes all the excuses inherent in liberal thinking about crime and punishment.  No one actually commits a crime, because no one exercises the “free will” that underlies the American system of crime, with its focus on malicious intent (as opposed to negligence).  If if people cannot be held responsible for their crime, they certainly cannot be punished.  Or at least, the actor cannot be punished.

As Dennis Prager has pointed out more than once, failing to punish the actor often means that it’s the innocent who suffer.  What this means is that, in some ways, the Left is even worse than Islam.  Both deny man free will and conscience, but Sharia law at least has the decency to punish the wrongdoing (although the moral balancing that sees a woman designated as the wrong-doer for being raped leaves something to be desired).  The Left, however, which also gives man the moral weight of an animal is too softhearted to punish that wild animal, with the sad result that, as the murderous lion is allowed to walk free, the innocent lamb is often eaten.

So, we have two apparently antithetical doctrines that share a common thread in their belief that man is enslaved to his environment and his animal lusts, and is incapable of moral decision-making and self-control. That the responses are different — violent punishment versus no punishment at all — doesn’t subtract from the nihilistic core underlying both.  Give me good old Judeo-Christian thought any day, which holds that man is a rational, moral creature who can control himself, who is capable of making moral decisions despite difficult situations, and who if he commits crimes short of the most heinous ones (intentional murder topping the list), should be punished in a way that is meaningful, but leaves the possibility of redemption.

The immorality of being soft on crime

I blogged the other day about Dennis Prager’s strongly expressed opinion that those who have runaway compassion for criminals lack compassion for innocent people. Prager made that point in connection with the killing of Sean Taylor, something that took place at the hands of four young men with lengthy rap sheets. I later updated that some post to ask this question: “What do you bet that the two guys arrested for this horrific accident both have rap sheets?” I’m now in a position to answer that same question.

To begin with, the “accident” was no accident. Two men stole a car and, once they were spotted by the police, they took off, ran a red light, and smashed into another car, killing both men in that other car. One of the men killed was Kristopher Bratt, only 20 years old:

Bratt, who was reportedly a nephew of the actor Benjamin Bratt, worked until recently as a laborer for Redwood Engineering in Tiburon. He was laid off last week because of a seasonal slowdown, said company owner Rob Poole.

“He was a nice guy,” Poole said. “If I hadn’t laid him off, he would’ve been in bed getting ready for work. You feel weird about it.”

Bratt’s survivors include his mother in Mill Valley.

Bratt’s mother had to say what any mother would say upon learning that her son was the victim of random, violent death: ”

I’m just in shock right now – my youngest son is dead.” [snip] “Kristopher happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “If he died instantly, that’s a blessing.”

About the other man killed, Alfonso Felipe Cortez, 36, nothing is yet known.

Those are the victims, men who had the spectacular bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But let’s get back to my question about the perpetrators. I asked, what do you bet they both guys had rap sheets?

I can tell you now that at least one of them, the man who drove the stolen car and caused the crash, had a lengthy rap sheet:

The 22-year-old man who allegedly fled from police in a stolen car and slammed into a second car early Tuesday in San Francisco, killing two men, has a long arrest record and was recently released from jail, authorities said.

[snip]

Records show that Gosnell has a string of offenses dating back to 2004. Most were for burglaries and petty theft, but he also been arrested for allegedly making terrorist threats and carrying a concealed weapon.

In February, Gosnell was ordered to serve a year in county jail for a probation violation. He spent about 10 months behind bars. He could have faced up to two years in state prison.

Gosnell has four burglary- or theft-related convictions, records show, and each time, he served days to months in jail before being released on probation. As part of the sentence this year on the probation revocation, he was placed on probation through 2009.

He was arrested in November in San Francisco stemming from a warrant in Daly City, according to prosecutors. Details about that warrant and the status of the case were unavailable late Tuesday.

Gosnell’s attorney wins this year’s “master of understatement” award. In commenting on his client, he said “My impression is that he was a decent enough chap who had problems – I’m stunned that this has happened.” Yes, that’s what he was — a decent guy with problems, little problems such as terrorism threats, carrying concealed weapons, at least four burglary/theft crimes (and we assume many more for which he was not tagged), not to mention stealing a car and killing two innocent young men.

Now, I understand that this is an attorney talking about his own client, but here’s another bet for you: What do you bet that Gosnell’s defenders will quickly get back to us with stories of his social/economic/mental/racial/familiar/[fill in the blank] problems, all of which explain or excuse the terrible crime he committed?

UPDATE:  And here’s a political note about being soft on crime, in a column asking if Huckabee’s penchant for forgiving violent criminals is going to make him soft on Islamic terrorism.

Moral clarity, moral clarity, moral clarity

I’m sorry that I don’t have much time to blog today, but I’m bouncing from professional deadline to parenting deadline and back again without respite today. However, I did manage to catch up on my iPod’s backlog of Dennis Prager shows. Since the show was from last week, Dennis commented briefly on the death of Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskin’s player who was shot during a burglary.

Aside from commenting on the tragedy that his death represented, Dennis went on to point out that all of the suspects had rap sheets, with crimes ranging from driving with a suspended license to trafficking in hard drugs. It was in this context that Dennis said the Left’s obsessive compassion for the criminal is mirrored by a lack of compassion for the innocent.

Please understand that, at least as I heard it, Dennis wasn’t writing off people who have taken a wrong turn and can be saved. He was, however, saying that there are bad people out there, and when the Left tries to blame the system (political, racist, economic, whatever), and give these people a free pass, it’s the innocent who suffer. A perfect example, of course, is Jack Abbott, the killer who became a liberal cause célèbre, who was released because of this celebrity, and who promptly killed again.

UPDATE:  What do you bet that the two guys arrested for this horrific accident both have rap sheets?

Jurors unclear on the concept

This is what a Canadian jury found that Robert “Willie” Pickton did to six women:

During his trial, a prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood said Pickton told him how he strangled his alleged victims and fed their remains to his pigs. Health officials once issued a tainted meat advisory to neighbors who might have bought pork from Pickton’s farm, concerned the meat might have contained human remains.

[snip]

During the trial, [victim] Papin’s three sisters cried and clutched each other’s hands in court while the judge reviewed the testimony of witness Lynn Ellingson. In her testimony, Ellingson said she walked in on a blood-covered Pickton as Papin’s body dangled from a chain in the farm’s slaughterhouse.

Before the jury started their deliberations on Nov. 30, Judge James Williams reviewed the transcript of a videotape with them in which Pickton is heard telling an undercover police officer that he had planned to kill 50 women, take a break, then kill 25 more.

So let me reiterate:  the jury concluded on the evidence before it that Pickton did indeed savagely kill all six women, before feeding them to the pigs.  Nevertheless, in a move that will leave me perpetually perplexed, the same jury also concluded that he didn’t plan to kill them:

A jury convicted a 58-year-old pig farmer Sunday of murdering six women, handing him an automatic life sentence but finding that the killings were not planned.

Robert ‘Willie’ Pickton still faces 20 more murder charges for the deaths of women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts from a seedy Vancouver neighborhood. If convicted on all those charges, he would become Canada’s most prolific serial killer.

[snip]

The jury of seven men and five women took 10 days to reach a verdict. They had the option of finding Pickton guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter or not guilty on any of the six counts.

First-degree murder, which means a murder was planned, also carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison but does not offer parole eligibility for 25 years. The second-degree charge offers parole eligibility in 10 years.

Does it make any sense to you that, with that evidence before them, the jury could hold that Pickton murdered the women and simultaneously mitigate his sentence by concluding that he didn’t mean to do so?

The Bay Area, drugs and blacks

The San Francisco Chron has a long article about the fact that, in the Bay Area, blacks are locked up disproportionately for drug crimes, as compared to whites:

San Francisco imprisons African Americans for drug offenses at a much higher rate than whites, according to a report to be released today by a nonprofit research institute.

In a study of nearly 200 counties nationwide, the Justice Policy Institute found that 97 percent of large-population counties have racial disparities between the number of black people and white people sent to prison on drug convictions.

The institute, which is based in Washington, D.C., and researches public policy and promotes alternatives to incarceration, says whites and African Americans use illicit drugs at similar rates. But black people account for more than 50 percent of sentenced drug offenders, though they make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population.

San Francisco locks up a higher percentage of members of the African American community in drug cases than any other county in the study. In the county, 123 people out of every 100,000 are sent to state prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are incarcerated at a rate of 35 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 1,013 per 100,000 black people.

“It is not that San Francisco is sending a lot of people to prison for drug offenses, it is that the people they are sending are black,” said Jason Ziedenberg, executive director of the institute. “An average citizen who uses drugs in San Francisco has a pretty low chance of going to prison, but if you are African American, the chances are fairly high.”

***

San Francisco has a small population of African Americans – 6.7 percent of the total, according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey – but Ziedenberg said the numbers have a concentrated impact within that community. African Americans are going to prison for drug offenses at a rate that is 28 times higher than the rate for whites.

“If you go to any courtroom in the Hall of Justice, you will see that the majority arrested are African American,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “At every stage of the criminal process – arrest, conviction and those who are sent to prison – there is a disproportionate impact on blacks.

“It is a tradition in San Francisco to focus sting operations in communities where there are larger populations of African Americans, and there are state and federal grants that support those stings.”

Alameda and San Mateo counties also have disproportionately high rates of incarcerating African Americans for drug offenses, according to the report. In Alameda County, 159 per 100,000 people are admitted to prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are imprisoned at a rate of 23 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 797 per 100,000 black people.

In San Mateo County, 76 out of every 100,000 people are admitted to prison each year for drug offenses. Of those, whites are imprisoned at a rate of 26 per 100,000 white people, while blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 946 per 100,000 black people.

In addition to the racial disparities, the report found that counties that spend more on policing and the judicial system imprison people for drug offenses at higher rates, even if the crime rate isn’t higher. It also found that counties with higher poverty and unemployment rates send people to prison more.

I have no quarrel with the numbers.  It is absolutely true that more blacks go to prison than whites for drug crimes, even though there are fewer blacks in the overall population.  What I wondered about, and what the article does not address, is the types of drugs at issue.

Are the blacks and whites using the same drugs, or are the whites using softer drugs?  I ask this because, when I was a young lawyer in San Francisco, everyone I knew smoked pot, the drug that makes you boring.  (Incidentally, I didn’t.  I tried it once and found the effects of inhaling so distressing, both physically and mentally, that I never wanted to touch it again.)  Pot is illegal.  It is also ubiquitous amongst young whites (and, I guess, among young people of all other races) and is the kind of thing that police officers definitely do not seem to target — probably because stoned people are inert and harmless.

Getting away from pot, there wasn’t much else going on drug-wise among the white young people I knew (and this includes high school and college, too.)  While there was a brief boom of cocaine amongst some of the Yuppies with whom I worked (and one of them distinguished himself by driving off the roof of a two story parking garage while high), I was unaware of any other, harder drugs:  heroin, meth, crack, etc.  And my sense has always been that it is those drugs, which destroy communities and increase the overall crime rate, that attract the attention of law enforcement.

So, based on my wild hypothesizing, I’m not going to assume that law enforcement in the Bay Area is racist until I have more information, not just about arrest numbers, but about the types of drugs that drive those arrests.

Previous posts:  Are San Francisco Cops racist?

Neatly avoiding responsibility

NPR did a little eulogy for Richard Jewell:

Lets take a moment to remember a man who really was not a terrorist.

Richard Jewell died yesterday.  He might have saved lives at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  He was a security guard.  He’s the man who discovered a green knapsack.  He’s the man who ushered several people away before the bomb inside it exploded.  It killed one person and injured 111 with flying nails.  Jewell is also the man who initially became a suspect in the bombing.

[Richard Jewell’s voice] “I daresay there’s more people that know that I was accused of it and was a suspect, or called a suspect, than know I was the one that actually found the package, and that I was cleared.”

During 88 days as a suspect, Richard Jewell said he felt like a hunted animal about to be killed.  And afterward he thanked one of the few people who stood by him from beginning to end — his mom.

When he died yesterday of unknown causes, Richard Jewell was 44 years old.  He died at home, not in the prison cell where he might once have been expected to spend the rest of his life.

Listening to the above, as I did, you might wonder who hunted him down for those 88 hellish days.  Southern police?  The FBI?  Well, that’s certainly part of the answer.  The FBI was did a horrible thing by leaking Jewell’s identity to the press and it did investigate him very aggressively.  (Incidentally, since the FBI leak that triggered the media frenzy happened on Janet Reno’s watch, you may find interesting Ann Coulter’s column reminiscencing about the Reno years.)

If you’re like me, though, you remember that the FBI wasn’t alone in making Jewell’s life miserable.  Once the FBI wrongly got the ball rolling, the media ran with it, maligning and harassing for those 88 days, so much so that he sued several news outlets after he was cleared.  I think Jewell would have appreciated this 30 second eulogy a bit more if it had properly identified the culprits who made his life Hell for 88 days and, perhaps, included a nice little apology for the media’s role in the horror that became his life.

Justice is served

Actually, justice isn’t quite served. True justice would not have had 9 year old Jessica Lunsford raped and then murdered by being buried alive. Failing that, though, the fact that her killer got the death sentence is good news:

A convicted sex offender was sentenced Friday to death for kidnapping 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, raping her and burying her alive in his yard.

John Evander Couey looked straight ahead as Circuit Judge Ric Howard told him he should be executed for the 2005 crimes that led to new laws in many states cracking down on convicted sex offenders.

Sheriff’s deputies hustled the handcuffed inmate out of the crowded courtroom.

The girl’s father, Mark Lunsford, teared up as he listened to the judge read a detailed history of the case for nearly an hour. He hugged relatives after the sentence was read.

Outside court, Lunsford had a message for Couey: “Skip all these appeals. Take your punishment. Stand up and be a man.”

The jury that convicted Couey in March recommended 10-2 that he die for his crimes, but the decision was left to Howard.

***

The jury convicted Couey of taking the girl in February 2005 from her bedroom to his nearby trailer, sparking a massive search. The third-grader’s body was found about three weeks after she disappeared in a grave in Couey’s yard, about 150 yards from her own home.

Couey, already a convicted sex offender when he committed the crime, was arrested in Georgia and confessed to the killing. That confession was thrown out as evidence because Couey did not have a lawyer present.

Despite the confession being tossed, Couey incriminated himself other times. Jail guards and investigators testified that he repeatedly admitted details of the slaying after his arrest, insisting that he hadn’t meant to kill the third-grader but panicked during an intense, nationally publicized police search.

Prosecutors also had overwhelming physical evidence, including DNA from the girl’s blood and Couey’s semen on a mattress in his room as well as her fingerprints in a closet where investigators said she was hidden.

Howard recounted the evidence in detail, including Couey wrapping her in two garbage bags, putting her alive into a hole then piling a foot of dirt on top of her.

“His actions crushed the very breath and life out of Jessica Marie Lunsford,” Howard said.

“Jessica futilely poked two fingers out of the inner bag indicating that she was trying to dig her way out of what would become her grave,” Howard said. “Her last thoughts … cannot be fathomed.”

Couey has a criminal record that includes 24 burglary arrests, carrying a concealed weapon and indecent exposure. He was designated a sex offender for exposing himself to a 5-year-old girl in 1991.

I have to say that, every time I read about that little girl poking her two fingers out of the bag, it just makes my eyes tear. It’s such a horrible thought. I hope that Couey’s execution takes place soon. (To make myself more cheerful, here’s a good story about a child’s hand creeping out.)