Pharyngula

They’re violent, murderous bastards. Rudi Boa, a scientist, got into an argument with Alexander York, an ignorant ass, while on a backpacking trip in Australia. Boa was arguing for evolution, while York was arguing for idiocy. Later, under the influence of alcohol, York attacked, stabbed, and killed Boa.

York was just tried and sentenced to five years in jail, eligible for parole in three. The judge apparently thought York was a man of good character.

As Greg Laden put it, “Stabbing an evolutionist to death, in Australia, is not considered a serious offense if you are a person of good character.”

Comments

  1. #1 Reginald Selkirk
    December 14, 2007

    Murdered? Big deal. It’s not like was expelled or something.

  2. #2 Ian B Gibson
    December 14, 2007

    You think if it had been the other way round, the scientist would’ve got a longer sentence for committing a hate crime?

  3. #3 Zeno
    December 14, 2007

    Well, just to be fair, you know, the evolutionist was probably an atheist, and atheists think killing people is okay. I’m sure I read that somewhere. Probably the Bible.

  4. #4 ZacharySmith
    December 14, 2007

    Clearly Mr. Boa is to blame. After all, he was the one spouting god-hating, atheist, pro-Hitler evolutionist dogma.

    We all know the effects of secularist propaganda on people of faith. (Remember Colorado the other day?)

    Who could blame Mr. York for snapping under the weight of such a blasphemous onslaught?

  5. #5 Rick T.
    December 14, 2007

    All he has to do is ask forgiveness and he still gets to go to heaven. What’s the big deal?

    Although, he could have asked forgiveness for not being able to argue convincingly with an evilutionist. Do you think that God would forgive him for not quote mining, lying, and otherwise being an obnoxious creationist honk?

    I don’t know. Better play it safe and kill him ’cause we know God forgives a murderer.

  6. #6 Ted D
    December 14, 2007

    Somehow I was under the impression that after you killed someone (even by so-called accident in a fit of rage) you got your Person of Good Character ™ licence revoked. Silly me.
    But I suppose he was not a True Christian (r) anyway, so he got a Satanic Get Out Of Jail Card.

  7. #7 Fentwin
    December 14, 2007

    I wonder, what is the name of the logical fallacy when you try to win an argument by killing the other guy? Argumentum ad Homicide?

    I was in a somewhat similar situation. The band was sitting around the house and the bass player was spouting a steady stream of creationist’s nonsense . He knew my science background and continually wanted to prove the fact of evolution as wrong (I have an M.S. in biology, studying prey strike behavior, in light of comparative skeletal and muscular anatomy, in birds of prey).

    When this fine fellow couldn’t express his views, or influence mine, using his native language (English), he stammered a bit then commenced an attempt to throttle me. That is quite an experience. “Bubba McRedneck” launching himself out of his chair, two spindly appendages waving in the air as they try to find my neck.

    “Bubba” (Homo rufuscervicum) was as thin as an emaciated hummingbird, so no real damage was done.

    Anyway, my point being; when confronted wih evidence and reason, violence is all that seems to be left in the thumper’s arsenal. At least the threat of violence via a PSL in hell.

  8. #8 craig
    December 14, 2007

    That moron Vox Day (I think it was him) was here arguing the other day that atheists are killing Christians. Couldn’t cite an example (he may have shouted Stalin, I’d stopped paying attention pretty quickly), but said that’s why they have armed guards at his church.

  9. #9 Olaf Davis
    December 14, 2007

    “The judge apparently thought York was a man of good character.”

    Maybe he was. Sometimes people ‘of good character’ do terrible things in the heat of the moment, or when drunk. That’s why trials allow character witnesses.

    Is any evidence to suggest that the same crime committed by an evolutionist against a creationist would have resulted in a harsher sentence? If not, then I don’t think your argument is that helpful.

  10. #10 raven
    December 14, 2007

    So what is the big deal? It is not like Mr. York was denied tenure for being a religious bigot and ignorant ass or something.

    Don’t you need a hunting license and a tag to kill a scientist in Australia?

  11. #11 Jeremy O'Wheel
    December 14, 2007

    I think it’s really foolish and irresponsible to question court decisions if you haven’t read the transcripts or weren’t present for the duration of the case. Although I hate creationism and murder intensely, I think it’s definitely conceivable that a creationist could be generally a person of good character apart from this action.

    I also think people’s sense of time is completely warped when it comes to jail sentences for actions they find abhorrent. 3 years in jail is a long time, and being on parole isn’t really being “free.”

    I also think that it’s important to think about what is achieved through sentences, and it’s hard to see anything positive coming from a longer sentence. Indeed I don’t think much good comes from jail sentences in general, and it was interesting to note that in my state of Australia where laws were recently changed to increase the amount of suspended sentences, we’ve found that people who aren’t sent to jail are much less likely to offend than those who are sent to jail for the same crime.

    Yeah it’s horrible that somebody was killed over an issue like like this, but I don’t think we have any reason to question the sentence.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 14, 2007

    Is any evidence to suggest that the same crime committed by an evolutionist against a creationist would have resulted in a harsher sentence? If not, then I don’t think your argument is that helpful.

    I am going to lean on the “person of good character” decision by the judge was influenced in some and probably in no small part by the stance for creation he was taking.

    In my book anyone who could kill someone over this argument, drunk or not, is in no way a “person of good character”.

  13. #13 Pablo
    December 14, 2007

    It’s like the line from “A Few Good Men”:

    “Is there any evidence of any violence at all?”
    “Aside from the dead body?”

    Aside from being a drunken murderer, I’m sure Mr. York is a fine, upstanding human being. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

  14. #14 ZacharySmith
    December 14, 2007

    Sorry, Olaf.

    If you’re incapable of controlling your urges to kill someone because you don’t like they say, your ass deserves to be tossed in the slammer.

    I don’t give a shit how much you’ve had to drink, or how nice you are when you’re sober. If you’re a stupid, aggresive drunk, you’re a threat & deserve to be treated as such.

  15. #15 raven
    December 14, 2007

    That moron Vox Day (I think it was him) was here arguing the other day that atheists are killing Christians. Couldn’t cite an example (he may have shouted Stalin..

    Yes, I was there. He threw Hitler the Catholic in as well. Never heard of Vox so did a quick internet search. He seemed to be mentally ill. The consensus is that he is seriously mentally ill and may go the terrorist shooter route someday. Maybe he will move to Australia. Pick your tagets carefully and you only get a few years in jail.

    He just makes thing up. And when you call him on it, makes up more stuff. Typical fundie.

  16. #16 Dan
    December 14, 2007

    I hate to break it to that judge, but, normally, people of “good character” don’t kill other people for senseless reasons.

  17. #17 BlueIndependent
    December 14, 2007

    @ 8:

    VD spouted just about every evil ever committed in the last 2-300 years as proof atheism is the problem, not religion (which, by religion, he meant Christianity). His proof was an unsurprising no show for anything that left his keyboard, though he attempted using sources that he thought supported his position. But the Soviets = athists = atheism-kills-all argument was more than a prominent feature, it was his center-piece example. There was something he wrote about the 60 worst supposedly atheist leaders in history, and how even the best of them did 2X more killing than the worst Christian leader in history.

    The illogical result of his stance was if people calling themselves Christian do bad things, they’re not real Christians and therefore Christianity maintains its purity. But if atheists do evil it’s because of their atheism and nothing else.

    VD would make a champion witch-burner.

  18. #18 NJ
    December 14, 2007

    @11:

    3 years in jail is a long time

    I think being dead is forever…

  19. #19 True Bob
    December 14, 2007

    the worst Christian leader in history

    Wow, even worse than their god?

  20. #20 inkadu
    December 14, 2007

    I think PZ is misrepresenting this rather badly. It wasn’t a case of pre-meditated rage — it was a crime of drunken passion, and almost viewed as “accidental” by the courts.

    From the news article:

    According to Ms Brown, York was making dinner when he attacked the couple outside his tent, stabbing Mr Boa with a kitchen knife as the argument escalated.

    So, yes, they had a bit of a row at the pub, and York stabbed Mr. Boa “later.” But it seems they had continued the argument, and probably gotten more drunk.

    Article again:

    Justice Adams said he had given York a sentence at the lower end of the scale, partly because of the accidental nature of the stabbing.

    “I do not believe that he took aim but rather thrust out,” Justice Adams said.

    “I think he knew that the knife was in his hand … but he did not actually turn his mind to the potentially serious consequences of doing this.

    From that, I’m guessing he stabbed him once. York was cooking dinner, so had a knife in his hand. I mean, the guy’s a drunken creationist jerk… but given the cirumstances, it doesn’t look like Christian favoritism.

    I think it IS fair to ask what would happen if it happened the other way around … everyone knows how crazy and deranged evilutionists are, those people are DANGEROUS. They’d slap their own dying grandmother if she started to pray.

    Just like it’s fair to ask why an eco-terrorist who burns 3 HumVee’s in a way designed to make sure nobody gets hurt gets 22 years while someone who steals then totals 20 cars might get six months.

  21. #21 Don Quijote
    December 14, 2007

    This story is certainly upsetting and and makes me feel angry too.

    Although I find creationists extremely stupid and annoying (they are admittedly less of a problem on this side of the pond) it is probably not fair to call them all ‘violent and murderous’ because of this specific case. I do also not accept the ‘Stalin was an atheist thus all atheists are mass murderers’ argument. This is a too simplistic generalisation.

    I do also fully agree with Jeremy O’Neill (#11) about the dangers of questioning court rulings (especially if you are not familiar with the details of the case and the judicial system in the country in question).

  22. #22 Jeremy O'Wheel
    December 14, 2007

    Re VJ; “I think being dead is forever” – I don’t understand how that’s relevant. Are you suggesting that our justice system should be based on “an eye for an eye” and that punishment should be equal to the damage caused?

    Luckily most societies around the world have gone through an enlightenment on crime and punishment, and the goal is no longer vengeance, but rather attempting to protect society and avoid such events from occurring again.

    I really like this essay from Richard Dawkins on the subject of punishment.

    http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html

  23. #23 Flaky
    December 14, 2007

    I think PZ blew this one out of proportions. It’s hard to know what exactly happened, when the only witness isn’t exactly impartial, but to me it seems like a rather typical drunken argument ending up in a stabbing, the creationism vs. evolution is just incidental, it could’ve been over sports or something else.

    If this was York’s first criminal charge, the sentence was probably in line with other similar cases. And let’s not forget that sentencing in the USA is often quite out of proportion when compared to other (semi-)civilized nations.

  24. #24 RickD
    December 14, 2007

    Is any evidence to suggest that the same crime committed by an evolutionist against a creationist would have resulted in a harsher sentence? If not, then I don’t think your argument is that helpful.

    Posted by: Olaf Davis | December 14, 2007 9:22 AM

    This is a profoundly stupid argument.

    Is there any evidence that, if blacks had enslaved whites instead of the other way around, that blacks would have whipped their slaves less often? No? Well, what are blacks so upset about anyway?

    If you want to make this kind of argument, the burden is on _you_ to show that an evolutionist had actually even committed such a crime. Without that evidence, we have a kind of behavior that is used by one group against the other and which is given the seal of approval by the law by a society sympathetic to the notion that religious devotion implies moral superiority.

    That is the background noise in this situation. Ignoring it is a sign of obtuseness.

  25. #25 PZ Myers
    December 14, 2007

    “blew this one out of proportions”? The guy is dead. I don’t care who did it, but when someone kills another, it ought to be cause for considerable more outrage in a civilized nation.

  26. #26 Diego
    December 14, 2007

    “Homo rufuscervicum”! Excellent job, Fentwin.

  27. #27 Karen
    December 14, 2007

    So, this is the guy who told the first person on the scene that someone else had done it and taken off? And wiped off the knife and threw it into the woods?

    …and claimed that while he was drunk enough to think that all of the above were reasonable actions, his memory of the stabbing was superior to that of the witness?

    I’d sure like to hear what he said in his address to the court that convinced the judge that the stabbing/lying/coverup was an aberration in an otherwise good clean life.

  28. #28 Jeremy O'Wheel
    December 14, 2007

    Jeebus; massive strawman argument!

    The point was that somebody suggested that if an evolutionist killed a creationist in the same situation, that they would face a stiffer penalty.

    If the person making this claim wants to convince people, then the burden of proof is on them, and the rest of us are free to dismiss that argument as meaningless, as it is not based on any evidence.

    It has nothing to do with justifying the actions, so the comment about black people and slavery is meaningless. Just like with this case, we don’t have any evidence that African Americans would have behaved any differently, so it would be wrong to assert that they would unless we had a reason.

    There is no history in Australia (that I’m aware of), of giving Christians lighter sentences than non Christians, based on their religious belief. Getting 5 years jail for a drunken, heat of the moment, first offence murder is a very typical sentence.

    Anybody who claims that this sentence is too light because of the persons religion would have to also claim that every person sentenced for crimes in similar events in Australia also receive sentences that are too light, even though religion plays no roll in many of those crimes.

    Here’s a recent story that received a lot of media attention here;

    http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,22918180-5005940,00.html

    A man in a stolen car was pursued by police, and shot and killed one of those police officers. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail with 7 years parole. It was not his first offence. I think this is very consistent with the facts of the original case being discussed.

  29. #29 inkadu
    December 14, 2007

    Yes, PZ, a man is dead. I meant your characterization of the murer as an in-cold-blood religiously motivated deal didn’t seem to match that facts of the case.

    Jeremy – I’m not familiar with the Australian justice system, but over here in America, judges often make biased decisions based on their own personal prejudice. That’s what comes of being a politically elected official.

    You’re accusing of us anticipatory persecution… but, given the poltiical climate and the heated rhetoric, I don’t think it’s completely unjustified. For my part, I would focus on the media. If the roles were reversed, this would probably be a big story in the US. I question whether, with the media circus, we could have even gotten a fair trial. I mean, jeez, a Christian shoots Christians and now the story is, “Christians Under Attack!”

    And I will gladly cede your argument, because evolutionists tend to be better behaved than the average ursine and so I don’t imagine I’ll have the opportunity to prove you wrong any time soon.

  30. #30 RM
    December 14, 2007

    Flying H. Spaghetti Monster!

    A person, who happens to be a cdesign proponetist, gets denied tenure and the Pharyngula audience gets in an outrage at people who claim, with little evidence, that it was ideologically motivated.

    A person, who happens to be a creationist, get leniency in sentencing and the Pharyanula audience claims, with little evidence, that it was ideologically motivated.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  31. #31 Josh
    December 14, 2007

    Un-fucking-believable. My father is currently serving a two-year sentence because a friend of his screwed him over, basically. The friend gave him his check book, my dad wrote a few checks (but DID pay him back) and the “friend” took my dad to court.

    And this murderer will be eligible for parole just one year after my father’s sentence? Yeah…that’s justice if I’ve ever seen it. You know the judge is most likely a “moral” religious twat. And people wonder why we atheists are so “angry.”

  32. #32 Bronze Dog
    December 14, 2007

    I’m only suspicious about religious motivation behind the light sentencing, but that doesn’t change my stance.

  33. #33 Olaf Davis
    December 14, 2007

    PZ (#25),
    Obviously, demanding punishment for a murder isn’t “[blowing it] out of proportions” – but chalking it up as a “reason to avoid debating creationists” might be. People get stabbed in arguments over religion, sport, sex, and garden fences. I should avoid arguing with people about one of those things (say, sports) if it looks like sports fans are more likely to stab me than the average person, but a single case does not prove this.

    RickD (#24),
    People were saying (or implying) that evolutionists got a raw deal compared to creationists when it came to being attacked or getting justice afterwards. So, I asked if there was evidence that the sentence would’ve been harsher with the positions switched. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. As Jeremy (#29) says, the burden of proof is on the people who claim evolutionists suffer more; the null hypothesis is that everyone gets equal sentences.

    I don’t understand how your slavery analogy fits. What blacks are “so upset about anyway” is the fact that they got enslaved; they aren’t claiming they would have been kinder slave-masters, so you’re correct in saying it would be irrelevant to bring up that argument. Therefore, your analogy doesn’t seem to apply.

  34. #34 uknesvuinng
    December 14, 2007

    I find some irony that there’s discussion of the fallacious Stalin argument being used against atheists in the comment thread to a blog post that accuses creationists of being murderous bastards based on a single incident in which creationism appears by all available reading to be incidental to the matter, and even if it’s not, hardly justifies the Mario-shaming leap.

    And by “some irony,” I mean my irony meter just exploded though it was stored in a supposedly irony-proof container.

  35. #35 RamblinDude
    December 14, 2007

    Off topic but almost as shocking: this year’s deeply religious White House Christmas card.

    We are headed toward a theocracy. In the future this man may be rewarded instead of punished.

  36. #36 uknesvuinng
    December 14, 2007

    Minor edit to my above post: It should be “the available reading,” not “all available reading.”

  37. #37 BlueIndependent
    December 14, 2007

    In a way I want to give the killing individual in this story an eensy-weensy pass, as it’s hard to say that religion specifically caused the altercation. Granted it’s what caused the argument, but alcohol being what it is and knowing what it does to some people versus others, it’s entirely reasonable that this could have happened if they were fighting over their favorite football team. Religious beliefs vs. evolution is certainly something that has caused plenty of “rows” and will continue to do so for some time, but the core issue here is the fight. I think it’d be quite a bit different if York was drunk and the other two were not.

    BUT, the guy is definitely not getting the punishment killing another human deserves. 5 years with parole after 3 is pretty damn light. I wonder if this York person has a history of drinking and violence. If so, than the judge’s sympathies are even more reprehensible. But the judge already seems predisposed. Which begs the question: would the outcome have been any different if it happened here? Wingnuts would probably be jumping to York’s defense and it would be all over Faux 24/7 until the guy was released free to go back to Britain and to visit the US any time he wished. Also, we have our own problem with know-nothing judges that love the power granted them by their position, more than being intellectually honest and weighing tough questions about bad situations.

  38. #38 Jeremy O'Wheel
    December 14, 2007

    I think in all fairness, the comment at the start of PZ’s post, which a number of people have attacked as hypocritical, is clearly made facetiously, and I would be confident that PZ doesn’t actually believe, or is seriously claiming, that all creationists are “violent, murderous bastards.”

  39. #39 Bill Anderson
    December 14, 2007

    Maybe this shows that it is actually a potentially dangerous thing to argue with a creationist to the point where they just can’t handle the emotions of not being able to defend their holy religion against godlessness. And if that’s the case, “the new atheists,” PZ included, should have bodyguards at their disposal – to prevent their disposal. I can’t imagine this going the other way, with an evolutionist being so frustrated in an argument with a creationist that he’d become violent – the logic on our side of the argument makes being frustrated unlikely, unless it involves someone like a VD who ignores the other side’s argument.

  40. #40 Glen Davidson
    December 14, 2007

    What was that in Expelled trailer, that we should be frightened if we actually watched it? I don’t think anybody was. Bunch of atheistic scientists attacking people? That’s not credible, and the IDiots know it.

    It may not be an especially light sentence, really, especially compared to the serial murderer in British Columbia (8 women killed, as I recall) who received 25 years. The US does tend to have harsher sentences, and this might be voluntary manslaughter.

    Be that as it may, is there any twinge at writing that “they’re violent, murderous bastards”? Sure, it’s not meant to be taken literally, but mightn’t the hordes off fairly nice creationists might be characterized better at times? I know some of these people too well (my Mom, for one) not to object to such characterizations.

    But then, if we were religious, we’d be suspecting that God is on our side now. The DI and most of the other cretins and IDiots have gone to full-blown whine mode, weeping over their enormous persecutions and suppression, even as command substantial media resources. Comer’s situation, and this violent buffoon, appear at just the right time to show off the fact that not only don’t they have any knowledge or science, too many of them have no morals.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  41. #41 Ross Barnett
    December 14, 2007

    I’ve been following this story for a while as this poor guy was from my hometown (Inverness, Scotland). None of the local coverage was explicit in stating who was arguing what but reading between the lines it was obvious that it was a creation/evolution “debate”. It’s just a really sad story. However, I did feel happy that the full weight of the law was brought down on the murdering Australian bastard.

  42. #42 Ross Barnett
    December 14, 2007

    My mistake. Ive just been going through the local paper and it seems that Mr York was from Essex and the nature of their argument was explicitly stated. Must check sources before commenting.
    http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/3868/Boa_killer_may_get_light_sentence.html

  43. #43 Don Quijote
    December 14, 2007

    If the characterisation in the first sentence was meant to be facetious, I misunderstood it. It is not always easy to imagine the right tone that goes with a sentence when you read things on the web (and in a foreign language).

    I did not to intend to suggest that PZ thinks in such simplistic ways, but I had the impression that it was written with (too much) outrage.

    I stand with the statement that one should be careful to judge a legal decision without knowing the details (as some posters did). I have seen too often how the media appeal to some gut-feeling of the badly informed reader concerning a crime. It is usually not very helpful to a fair and correct trial. It also seems to me that the qualification of the judgement as not hard enough is very subjective and has probably a lot to do with where you live.

  44. #44 robbrown
    December 14, 2007

    ….we’ve found that people who aren’t sent to jail are much less likely to offend than those who are sent to jail for the same crime.

    Sending someone to jail isn’t only about preventing that person from committing a crime again. It is about discouraging people from committing a crime in the first place, on the theory that consistantly punishing criminals reduces crime. There are places where most crime is not punished…you wouldn’t want to live there.

  45. #45 Bobby
    December 14, 2007

    I have an M.S. in biology, studying prey strike behavior, in light of comparative skeletal and muscular anatomy, in birds of prey […]

    “Bubba McRedneck” launching himself out of his chair, two spindly appendages waving in the air as they try to find my neck.

    “Bubba” (Homo rufuscervicum) was as thin as an emaciated hummingbird, so no real damage was done.

    But a useful data point for your research.

  46. #46 Bill Dauphin
    December 14, 2007

    Off topic but almost as shocking: this year’s deeply religious White House Christmas card.

    I just heard about this this morning, listening to the podcast of yesterday’s Rachel Maddow Show. I guess it makes me glad I’m not on Dubya’s Christmas card list (as an aside, I did get a card from that scumbag, James Earl Carter [g]). Still, I agree with you that…

    We are headed toward a theocracy.

    Please, please, PUHLEEEEEEEEZE, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, no matter what 3rd-party distractors enter the race, vote Democratic next November!!! I know some of the Dem candidates are too churchy to make folks here really happy… but neither any of them nor their party wants to establish a theocracy.

    We may all be being overly optimistic, anyway: What if Gawd tells Dubya to suspend the Constitution before we even get the chance to vote?

  47. #47 H. Humbert
    December 14, 2007

    Only 3 years for killing someone? That’s outrageous. And for all those saying the sentence is fair, you need your god damn heads examined.

  48. #48 Graculus
    December 14, 2007

    It may not be an especially light sentence, really, especially compared to the serial murderer in British Columbia (8 women killed, as I recall) who received 25 years.

    No, he got LIFE. His first opportunity to APPLY for parole is in 25 years. The harshest penalty available under Canadian law for 2nd degree murder, and well warranted in this case. The first trial was for 6 murders, there are 20 more murder charges pending.

  49. #49 Bobby
    December 14, 2007

    Sometimes people ‘of good character’ do terrible things in the heat of the moment, or when drunk. That’s why trials allow character witnesses.

    How strange. ISTM that what you do in the heat of the moment, or what you’re willing to get drunk enough to do, is the ultimate revelation of your true character.

    Maybe my views are defective because I’m not a dualist, and therefore unwilling to divorce ‘character’ from how you actually act.

  50. #50 Jamie
    December 14, 2007

    Five years’ jail time, parole in three? What utter fucking bullshit. How can you murder someone with a knife (an incredibly savage act) and get off with this mere slap on the wrist? As someone here wisely observed, it’s a safe bet that an evolutionist who murdered a creationist wouldn’t get off anywhere near so lightly.

    The murdered guy was only 28 years old, too.

  51. #51 Fentwin
    December 14, 2007

    But a useful data point for your research.
    Posted by: Bobby | December 14, 2007 12:15 PM

    Indeed. I could expand my sample population to include Loons. :)

  52. #52 Bobby
    December 14, 2007

    “blew this one out of proportions”? The guy is dead. I don’t care who did it, but when someone kills another, it ought to be cause for considerable more outrage in a civilized nation.

    I suspect what we have here is a case of the non-theists (non-dualists) taking death as a more serious matter than the theists.

  53. #53 Danniel Soares
    December 14, 2007

    Probably my irony detector is bugged… if it’s not, one can’t blame this sort of thing in creationism itself, or extend this sort of thing to “creationists”.

  54. #54 notthedroids
    December 14, 2007

    Basically a he-said-she-said deal:

    Miss Brown told the court that York had grabbed her by the throat and pushed her to the ground before stabbing Mr Boa in his left side, causing him to bleed to death.

    York was found guilty of Mr Boa’s manslaughter at the Surpreme Court in Wagga Wagga on 16th July. He claimed he accidentally wounded Mr Boa as he tried to defend himself.

    I don’t know the details of the case, but I find it incredibly dubious that York “accidentally” stabbed Boa in self-defence.

    I can’t say that the verdict (manslaughter instead of murder) is incorrect, given the evidence, but I find it very disturbing how much benefit of the doubt the judge gave York.

  55. #55 Bobby
    December 14, 2007

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Let’s see, one situation involves murder, the other involves failure to get tenure. One involves a few people expressing dismay on Pharyngula, the other involves a well funded propaganda outlet trying to stir a whole nation into outrage.

    How could anyone possibly see any difference?

    Oh, “religion”. No wonder we’re hearing objections to reasonable responses to both.

  56. #56 Glen Davidson
    December 14, 2007

    No, he got LIFE. His first opportunity to APPLY for parole is in 25 years. The harshest penalty available under Canadian law for 2nd degree murder, and well warranted in this case. The first trial was for 6 murders, there are 20 more murder charges pending.

    Ah, my mistake. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Still seems light by the standard in US sentences.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  57. #57 Glen Davidson
    December 14, 2007

    Let’s see, one situation involves murder, the other involves failure to get tenure. One involves a few people expressing dismay on Pharyngula, the other involves a well funded propaganda outlet trying to stir a whole nation into outrage.

    How could anyone possibly see any difference?

    Huge difference, really. One is just a dead scientist who had the “wrong ideas,” the other involves thwarting one the steps in the attempts of theocrats to take over America’s institutions.

    “Justice” gets shafted as “collateral damage” when the stakes are so high, and when the rule of a powerful nation seems within the grasp of the sectarian power.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  58. #58 Dustin
    December 14, 2007

    I’m trying to figure out whether I’m more upset with the wrist slap ruling, or with the contemptible, passive-agressive, unctuous jackoffs who have been mewling around the thread doing their very best to seem oh-so-reasonable in defending it. After all, there’s nothing about an ideologically motivated murder or the resulting 3-5 year sentence that’s worth getting upset about, anyone who does get upset about that sort of thing is, really, just being shrill.

  59. #59 melior
    December 14, 2007

    “I think he knew that the knife was in his hand … but he did not actually turn his mind to the potentially serious consequences of doing this.

    “Ya know it’s allllways good to have the Loooord by yer side.”

  60. #60 Sastra, OM
    December 14, 2007

    I don’t think this case really tells us anything about how “dangerous” either Creationists or Christians in general are — and I doubt that PZ meant to imply anything that general. Creationism doesn’t lead to murder. And I’ll agree with Olaf Davis and some of the other commenters here on being cautious about coming to snap conclusions on whether the sentencing was lighter because the judge is sympathetic to creationism or something. We just don’t have enough information, and this is a legal and judicial system most of us are not familiar with.

    But this case is an interesting counter-example we can pull out when faced with all the overblown and simplistic rhetoric on “evilution” and the evil things it leads to. Had it been the other way — an evolutionary scientist killing a Creationist — the creationists would have considered it very, very significant. But it wouldn’t be. And that’s the point.

    It’s similar to pointing out the higher rates of crime in countries which rate higher on religiosity. It doesn’t show a cause-effect that way — but it does rather knock out a simple-minded cause-effect connection the other way.

  61. #61 Ray C.
    December 14, 2007

    #7: I wonder, what is the name of the logical fallacy when you try to win an argument by killing the other guy? Argumentum ad Homicide?

    I suppose it falls under argumentum ad baculum.

  62. #62 VWXYNot?
    December 14, 2007

    I seem to remember a quote from a book that was something like “Lee Harvey Oswald could equally claim that he didn’t usually go around shooting presidents and this should not be taken as his typical behaviour”. Can anyone help me out with this quote? It sounds like Bill Bryson or Douglas Adams, but could also be from Bridget Jones.

    The Pickton verdict here in Vancouver has me confused too. 6 counts of second degree murder – WTF?

  63. #63 Eric
    December 14, 2007

    @Bobby #49:

    ISTM that what you do in the heat of the moment, or what you’re willing to get drunk enough to do, is the ultimate revelation of your true character.

    It seems that the best demonstration of your character is what you do when your faculties of reasoning are lowest, and the part of your brain that drives primal emotions takes control? It seems to me that the best demonstration of your character is how you act when you’re in control of your actions.

    @all:
    I have to say though – it does seem pretty ridiculous to me to blame this on religion. If two guys argued over sports teams while they were drunk and one stabbed the other (having never committed a crime in his life before that), I doubt it would make it’s way onto Pharyngula with a group of people claiming that all [insert sports team here] fans are murderers, or that “obviously this guy wasn’t a good person before if he did this” [paraphrase]. Yes, PZ, murder is a serious matter. Yes, the sentence does seem pretty light (though as pointed out, most of us know very little about the actual details of the case beyond the news reporting). But assuming that the sentence is light because of religion seems to not be warranted.

    If the circumstances were different – if they weren’t drunk, if the argument was a calm, thoughtful one followed by a cold-blooded stabbing – maybe then I could see blaming the short sentence on the religious aspect, as there wouldn’t seem to be another reason for it. But without knowing more about how much of the man’s history the judge heard, or the facts of the case, I don’t see how someone can say that (a) the judge’s appraisal of the man’s character was based on his beliefs about the origin of the universe, or (b) the subject of the argument (as opposed to the argument itself) was related to the stabbing.

  64. #64 So Sad
    December 14, 2007

    Wow! WTF has this got to do with evo v. creo controversies? In an Aussie context, a more controversial topic for a drunken argument might be whether rugby league is a better game than rugby union (and you parochial f***ers won’t know what either of those is!). If that argument had ended in alcohol-fuelled violence and a sad death, nobody would have tried to use it to fuel controversy about the competing viewpoints.

    But the USA is the Land of the Stupid and you can’t understand anything, can you? From your positions of proud and unsullied ignorance, you pronounce on the sentence, the protagonists, the argument, everything. I don’t know whether the sentence was “correct” or not, but I do know that in the civilised world we generally don’t lock people up as enthusiastically as you do in NastyLand. So 3 years in Australia probably equates to about 10 or 15 years in America. Possibly quite short, but another characteristic of us civilised folk is that we use our brains (you know, that grey porridgey thing between your ears) and know the difference between a really evil act and a more minor transgression that has unfortunate circumstances, and then we take that into account.

    But the saddest thing is that you pro-evo guys sound just like the creationist jerks in the way you just take everything out of context and extrapolate to absurdity. Pathetic.

  65. #65 Kseniya
    December 14, 2007

    You’re right. This isn’t about evo-creo. It’s about continuing English oppression of the Scots.

  66. #66 Don Quijote
    December 14, 2007

    @Kseniya
    You never know, he might not have been a true Scotsman…

  67. #67 Robin Levett
    December 14, 2007

    For what it’s worth…

    First, I’d endorse Jeremy O’Wheels’s comment that commenting on what the Court ought to have done without seeing a full transcript of the evidence, verdict and sentencing remarks is dangerous.

    However, there are a few points that the report does make clear. Firstly, York was tried for murder, but that the jury (Oz does have jury trials) acquitted him of murder and instead found him guilty of manslaughter.

    The judge is bound by the jury’s findings of fact. In the circumstances as we know them, the only way that the jury could have found York guilty of manslaughter only (and not murder), since murder only needs intent to kill or (in this case) to wound is if he didn’t realise the knife was in his hand and, since self-induced intoxication isn’t a defence, that he couldn’t be treated as if, had he been sober, he should/would have realised it.

    That being the case, the judge would have been compelled to sentence on the basis that the killing was accidental,
    albeit the blow that caused it was not.

    Those referring to this as bizarre sentencing for a murder are therefore way off the mark; as are those complaining that the judge gave York a free pass because of his religion.

  68. #68 Ted D
    December 14, 2007

    In an Aussie context, a more controversial topic…

    They were Scottish and English. Not that it matters in any case where they were from.

    But the USA is the Land of the Stupid…

    I’m from Sweden. Can I call you a loud-mouthed git now? We’re not enthusiastic about locking people up here either, and I’m not among those who cry out for harsher sentencing, but 3 years seems a bit short for killing someone even if I live in the “civilised world” and am using that grey porridgey thing between my ears. What constitutes an appropriate sentence may be debated, but giving someone leniency for killing, because they are of “good character” seems laughable to me, as one of the civilised folk. People of good character don’t get drunk and wave knives at other people.

    you pro-evo guys

    Do you know how that (quite apart form the rest of your obnoxiously toned post) makes you sound?
    Pathetic.

  69. #69 Jamie
    December 14, 2007

    Unfortunately many of my fellow non-American liberals think this kind of hysterical, frothing-at-them-mouth anti-Americanism is acceptable, and even laudable. They’re just chauvinists looking for a moral excuse to feel superior about their own tribe.

    Anyway, not everyone here who dislikes the leniency of the three-year sentence is an American.

  70. #70 G. Tingey
    December 14, 2007

    Australian law is based on British, and much closer to that in Britain…
    Here, such a murderer would be held in prison “Detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” – which interprets as: “Of unsound mind, not to be allowed out unless and until the shrinks have had a really good look.

    Given that they murderer is obviously a religious kook, I would have expected this to happen.

    In this country (England) such a sentence could now be appealed by the prosecution as too lenient – I don’t know how it cuurently stands in Oz …..

  71. #71 stogoe
    December 14, 2007

    The dumbfuck stabbed a guy, and gets three years? Fuck. That. Shit.

    I’ma go to Aussieland, get drunk as fuck, stab someone just to watch them die, and then cover up the crime. Three years seems like a pittance to put that on my CV.

  72. #72 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 14, 2007

    Wow! WTF has this got to do with evo v. creo controversies? In an Aussie context, a more controversial topic for a drunken argument might be whether rugby league is a better game than rugby union (and you parochial f***ers won’t know what either of those is!). If that argument had ended in alcohol-fuelled violence and a sad death, nobody would have tried to use it to fuel controversy about the competing viewpoints.

    But the USA is the Land of the Stupid and you can’t understand anything, can you? From your positions of proud and unsullied ignorance, you pronounce on the sentence, the protagonists, the argument, everything. I don’t know whether the sentence was “correct” or not, but I do know that in the civilised world we generally don’t lock people up as enthusiastically as you do in NastyLand. So 3 years in Australia probably equates to about 10 or 15 years in America. Possibly quite short, but another characteristic of us civilised folk is that we use our brains (you know, that grey porridgey thing between your ears) and know the difference between a really evil act and a more minor transgression that has unfortunate circumstances, and then we take that into account.

    But the saddest thing is that you pro-evo guys sound just like the creationist jerks in the way you just take everything out of context and extrapolate to absurdity. Pathetic.

    Somebody needs a huuuuuuug

  73. #73 Mr. Yoop
    December 14, 2007

    Well, I’m tired of being a concern troll but:

    Justice Adams said he had given York a sentence at the lower end of the scale, partly because of the accidental nature of the stabbing.

    “I do not believe that he took aim but rather thrust out,” Justice Adams said.

    “I think he knew that the knife was in his hand … but he did not actually turn his mind to the potentially serious consequences of doing this.

    “The offender is a person of good character and the offence is a complete aberration.”

    Make of it what you will. I don’t know australian law but keep in mind, he was being tried for manslaughter, not murder. I don’t know to what extent 3 years is a lenient sentence for manslaughter. I believe it is an the lenient side but I don’t know whether it is exceedingly so. As for “being of good character”, I really didn’t get any sense that being an IDer was a tipping point to the judge. I think “good character” means never having a prior record. Once he’s out, if he commits another crime, he won’t be considered a person of “good character” as he now does have a record.

    Pure speculation, of course, but had it gone the other way I’m not convinced the sentence would be harsher.

    On the other hand: Are IDiots more likely than evolutionists to get angry while drunk and attack with a kitchen knife? Well, I’m loathe to put my opinion in text, but considering the invalid flailing and irrational name-calling on a drop of a hat and outright hatrid I’ve seen among IDiots vs. the outright surprise and pitying loathing and disgust I’ve seen among evolutionists, let’s just say I’m not surprised that the situation happened “this way” rather than “reversed”. I’m sure if we scour the web we’ll find a case of physical assault by an evolutionist to a creationist/IDiot but I don’t think we have to scour so hard to find quite of few of these.

  74. #74 Colugo
    December 14, 2007

    So Sad: “But the USA is the Land of the Stupid and you can’t understand anything, can you? … in the civilised world we generally don’t lock people up as enthusiastically as you do in NastyLand.”

    The civilized world?

    You mean the land where white Australians riot against ethnic Arabs in a suburb of Sydney – in 2005?

    Where Australian aborigine health and socioeconomic standing is so abysmal that even Native Americans are markedly better off by comparison?

    Where the rate of rape is about two and half times that of the US?

    Sure, we Americans suck. But with all due respect and affection, you guys are even worse in some areas.

  75. #75 Graculus
    December 14, 2007

    Still seems light by the standard in US sentences.

    Well, we don’t do judicial homicide.

    Thankfully.

    6 counts of second degree murder – WTF?

    Because the definition of 1st degree isn’t as loosey-goosey as it is in many other systems, and it avoids legal wrangling over mental states. The minimum punishment for both 1st and 2nd degree murder in Canada is life. 2nd degree gets you an earlier chance at parole.

    It’s not a perfect system, but we aren’t exactly suffering an epidemic of murders.

  76. #76 AlanWCan
    December 14, 2007

    Waiting for the DI or AiG to chime in on this one

    ….crickets….

    I’d bet though if the stabber had received a harsh sentence they would have been up in arms within minutes about xtians being persecuted for their religious beliefs (that jebus wants you to stab an evilutionist).
    Mind you, the fact that this seems to have been a pair of drunk Brits fighting with each other surprises me not a jot. The murderous rage bubbles too shallow below the surface on those islands for my liking (one reason why I left).

  77. #77 NJ
    December 14, 2007

    Jeremy at @22

    Re VJ; “I think being dead is forever” – I don’t understand how that’s relevant

    …followed by…

    the goal is no longer vengeance, but rather attempting to protect society and avoid such events from occurring again

    …which constitutes you answering your own question.

    A three year sentence is very brief compared to a death, and constitutes both a rather weak deterrent and a scant protection.

  78. #78 thalarctos
    December 14, 2007

    Maybe my views are defective because I’m not a dualist, and therefore unwilling to divorce ‘character’ from how you actually act.

    Yes, Bobby, *you’re* the defective one. Remind me again how many people you killed last week?

    It seems that the best demonstration of your character is what you do when your faculties of reasoning are lowest, and the part of your brain that drives primal emotions takes control? It seems to me that the best demonstration of your character is how you act when you’re in control of your actions.

    So who is it who chooses to give up control by getting drunk, then? Is that the “in control” part or the primal part, or a whole ‘nother part entirely? I think I need a scorecard to keep up with the various dramatis personae.

  79. #79 Hairhead
    December 14, 2007

    To Glen D, who thought that Pickton’s sentence for 6 counts of 2nd-degree murder was light — I can guarantee you that 1) Mr. Pickton will be in jail until he dies and 2) if he is not kept in protective custody, he will die violently while in jail, rather earlier than the normal life expectancy of a person of his age.

    And there are another 20 charges of murder to be laid against him in a separate trial. And he admitted in one of his journals to killing 49 women, and wanting to make it “an even 50″.

    And I may point out that Mr. Pickton seems to be a religious man, who, in his own words, was put on earth get rid of sinful people.

    (shudder)

  80. #80 Kseniya
    December 14, 2007

    I wonder if, as a boy, he felt picked on.

  81. #81 RamblinDude
    December 14, 2007

    Probably, with all his peers asking, “Willie amount to anything.”

  82. #82 RamblinDude
    December 14, 2007

    Oops, “Willie amount to anything?”

  83. #83 Luna_the_cat
    December 14, 2007

    Speaking from my admittedly-limited knowledge of Australian law, I do know that for manslaughter he can be sentenced to up to 25 years, no parole. Even for Australia, five years with parole in two years is light.

    But then, just a few days ago, a judge in Australia let nine teenagers walk free with suspended sentences after they *admitted* gang-raping a 10-year-old girl, because she (yes, this judge was female) felt it was perfectly plausible that the girl had consented to have sex with them all.

    I would say there seem to be a few judges in Australia with a certain disconnect from reality.

  84. #84 J Myers
    December 14, 2007

    But then, just a few days ago, a judge in Australia let nine teenagers walk free with suspended sentences after they *admitted* gang-raping a 10-year-old girl, because she (yes, this judge was female) felt it was perfectly plausible that the girl had consented to have sex with them all.

    So they essentially dismiss a case like this, and yet the incidence of rape in Australia is still 2.5X that of the US? It must be like Shiloh there every day…

  85. #85 mothra
    December 14, 2007

    Just to reiterate a few points.
    1) The death itself was accidental.
    2) The assailant tried to hide his actions.
    3) The assailant lied about his actions.

    The assailant obviously understood the difference between right and wrong. Had his actions (2, 3) gone the way he schemed, then this “person of good character” would have gotten off Scott free. Five years is far too lenient. MJ- exactly right!

  86. #86 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    Jeremy – I’m not familiar with the Australian justice system, but over here in America, judges often make biased decisions based on their own personal prejudice. That’s what comes of being a politically elected official.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but AFAIK the USA is completely unique in electing its judges.

    During the presidential election of 2004 I saw an ad in the forest of “X for president”, “Y for senator”, Z for dogcatcher” ads that were standing around: “[name] — Republican for Judge”. That was the greatest shock I’ve had in the last… 7 years at least.

    “Yeah! Vote for me! I will not be impartial!!!”

    TSIB.

    ———–

    Now, to return to the topic <consciousness slowly returning from *headdesk* — there’s a metal bar in the desk which prevented it from breaking)>:

    So who is it who chooses to give up control by getting drunk, then?

    This is a very good point.

    If marijuana is illegal, why isn’t alcohol…?

    —————

    Still seems light by the standard in US sentences.

    By that standard it probably is!

    —————

    considering the invalid flailing and irrational name-calling on a drop of a hat and outright hatrid I’ve seen among IDiots vs. the outright surprise and pitying loathing and disgust I’ve seen among evolutionists, let’s just say I’m not surprised that the situation happened “this way” rather than “reversed”.

    Agreed.

    —————

    A three year sentence is very brief compared to a death, and constitutes both a rather weak deterrent and a scant protection.

    Hah. The only deterrent that works is a high chance of getting caught. If all murderers — not manslaughterers, murderers — thought that they would be caught, only religious and similar fanatics would be murderers anymore, and even they wouldn’t be serial murderers. In the real world, people think “yeah, if they get me I’ll get life in the slammer, but I have carefully planned the perfect crime, so they won’t get me (…and even if they get me, they won’t be able to prove anything)”.

  87. #87 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 14, 2007

    Jeremy – I’m not familiar with the Australian justice system, but over here in America, judges often make biased decisions based on their own personal prejudice. That’s what comes of being a politically elected official.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but AFAIK the USA is completely unique in electing its judges.

    During the presidential election of 2004 I saw an ad in the forest of “X for president”, “Y for senator”, Z for dogcatcher” ads that were standing around: “[name] — Republican for Judge”. That was the greatest shock I’ve had in the last… 7 years at least.

    “Yeah! Vote for me! I will not be impartial!!!”

    TSIB.

    ———–

    Now, to return to the topic <consciousness slowly returning from *headdesk* — there’s a metal bar in the desk which prevented it from breaking)>:

    So who is it who chooses to give up control by getting drunk, then?

    This is a very good point.

    If marijuana is illegal, why isn’t alcohol…?

    —————

    Still seems light by the standard in US sentences.

    By that standard it probably is!

    —————

    considering the invalid flailing and irrational name-calling on a drop of a hat and outright hatrid I’ve seen among IDiots vs. the outright surprise and pitying loathing and disgust I’ve seen among evolutionists, let’s just say I’m not surprised that the situation happened “this way” rather than “reversed”.

    Agreed.

    —————

    A three year sentence is very brief compared to a death, and constitutes both a rather weak deterrent and a scant protection.

    Hah. The only deterrent that works is a high chance of getting caught. If all murderers — not manslaughterers, murderers — thought that they would be caught, only religious and similar fanatics would be murderers anymore, and even they wouldn’t be serial murderers. In the real world, people think “yeah, if they get me I’ll get life in the slammer, but I have carefully planned the perfect crime, so they won’t get me (…and even if they get me, they won’t be able to prove anything)”.

  88. #88 Chris O'Neill
    December 14, 2007

    There aren’t that many creationist nutcases in Australia (at least nothing like the proportion in the US), so I was interested to see what sort of person the killer was. According to the report, the killer was an English backpacker, so at least the story doesn’t reflect on creationist influence on Australians.

  89. #89 Robin Levett
    December 14, 2007

    @Stogoe (#):

    I’ma go to Aussieland, get drunk as fuck, stab someone just to watch them die, and then cover up the crime. Three years seems like a pittance to put that on my CV.

    You’d be convicted of murder and sentenced to life – I don’t know what the tariff sentence would be in Oz.

    Doesn’t anybody read? He was acquitted of murder; that means that the jury (not the judge – he had to work with the verdict he got from the jury) decided that he intended neither to kill nor to do serious harm; and, since self-induced intoxication doesn’t negative mens rea, (ie isn’t a defence), it wasn’t his being drunk that led to the death.

    To find York not guilty of murder, the jury had to have believed that he struck out without thinking about the fact that the knife was in his hand and what damage it could do – and, the crucial point, that it wasn’t the drink that made him forget. So the judge was sentencing someone who swung a blow with no intent to kill or do serious harm, but that blow killed because of the knife. Argue with the verdict if you like, but for the crime of which he was convicted – punching someone, but that punch killed – with no previous, and a discount for a guilty plea (we don’t know whether he had offered a plea of guilty to the manslaughter charge, but given the facts I suspect he did), 5 years is probably not far off right.

  90. #90 Mr. Yoop (concern troll and wipy sap)
    December 14, 2007

    1) The death itself was accidental.
    2) The assailant tried to hide his actions.
    3) The assailant lied about his actions.

    I couldn’t find this in the article. Did I miss this or was this in another article?

    Such actions would certainly warrent a harsher sentence (although I accidently killed someone I might get scared enough to try something stupid like that.) Um, I’m not doubting your word or anything like that, but I you sure the lieing and hiding evidence is this case.

    1) The death itself was accidental.

    I wouldn’t call stabbing someone while “quite drunk” an accident. Although, I’d definately call it diminished capacity. I honestly don’t know if I feel 5 years is very light or kind of light. I’m not a big one for heavy sentences for unpremediated stuff, but then I’m kind of wimpy.

    I’m not seeing much here to imply creationist vs. evolution bias. Still, point of insane action and notable story is very valid.

  91. #91 Jeremy O'Wheel
    December 15, 2007

    I can’t believe how much misinformation and misunderstanding there is of the law in this topic. I’m going to go ahead and presume that the majority of people who have commented have never studied law and have no idea what they’re talking about. I certainly hope that’s the case, because I still have some faith in the legal system, and if people who know as little about what they’re talking about as the people in this topic are in the law profession or studying law, we’re in for some serious problems.

    First I wanted to say that jail isn’t the only way people are punished, and being released on parole does not mean you are “free” at all. There are all kinds of restrictions and rehabilitation and integration programs that ensure that people spend a lot more of their life dealing with their crime than just the jail time. Of course in many places these programs fail, and the criminals re-offend. However by using SCIENCE and applying it to the outcomes of particular sentencing, we’ve seen massive progress made around the world in sentencing. That’s one of the reasons why jail terms are trending towards being lighter than they used to be; because people have realised that sending people to jail is expensive and doesn’t achieve very much that is positive.

    Regarding the rape case mentioned a few posts ago; first it’s important to note that the sentence is being reviewed and appealed. It’s also important to note that 6 out of the 9 boys were also below the age of consent, so legally could not have agreed to have sex either, and at least 1 of the 3 who was above the age of consent is mentally handicapped, and may well be deemed legally unable to consent either. So we know that 7 and probably 8 out of the 10 people involved are in a position where if they had sex with an average adult, that adult could, and probably would, be charged with rape. In such a situation, what would a custodial sentence achieve? That was surely the question that the prosecution asked, and decided that it was the best interests of society and the people involved, if they weren’t sent to jail.

    As I said before, jail is only one way of punishing people, and all the people involved were still seriously punished. Just punished in a way that will hopefully mean they won’t commit the crimes again.

    This attitude that jail is the only acceptable punishment for crime, and anything else is just a slap on the wrist is a demonstration of ignorance of the legal system, and nothing else.

  92. #92 Don Quijote
    December 15, 2007

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but AFAIK the USA is completely unique in electing its judges.

    Switzerland knows a similar system (no wonder after all the constitution of modern Switzerland was modelled on the US constitution). In some states in Switzerland judges are elected by popular vote (or the local parliament). In most cases the political parties do suggest a candidate. Surprisingly these elections are usually very dull and a system of voluntary proportional presentation is uphold.

  93. #93 tenebrous
    December 15, 2007

    Sorry guys but this minuscule sentence for murder is typical for our legal system. It has little to do with evolution vs fantasy but more to do with our weak sentencing provisions here in Australia.

  94. #94 Steven Carr
    December 15, 2007

    One good thing.

    With these violent scenes of murder, Ben Stein’s movie ‘Expelled’ will not be able to be shown in churches.

    What do you mean, this murder won’t be in the movie?

  95. #95 Robin Levett
    December 15, 2007

    @Tenebrous (#92):

    …this minuscule sentence for murder…

    It wasn’t a sentence for murder; did you have anything relevant to say?

  96. #96 Flaky
    December 15, 2007

    There’s too many post on this thread all ready and everything I’m about to write have pretty much been covered, so I doubt that anyone will read this. Regardless, I have to say to PZ that I didn’t intend to debase the gravity of a mans death, instead I was merely commenting on PZ’s claim that creationists are “violent, murderous bastards” as well as Greg Laden’s “Stabbing an evolutionist to death, in Australia, is not considered a serious offense if you are a person of good character.”

    Reading the linked article I cannot even make the judgement that Boa was murdered by York. The five year sentence, with parole in 3, that was probably quite reasonable, if York doesn’t have a history of crime, considering that the killing might have been, at least in part, accidental. Three years in a prison isn’t exactly a picnic and York will probably have a hard time getting a job afterwards, not to mention that he’ll have to live with the fact that he stabbed a man to death on his conscience for the rest of his life. These are things that the judge had to consider. York certainly didn’t get away with murder, as many seem to imply.

  97. #97 Drake
    December 15, 2007

    In all fairness to York, science can be very disconcerting.

  98. #98 Karen
    December 15, 2007

    As I mentioned earlier, and mothra made available in super-obvious bulleted form, this guy both lied about and tried to cover up evidence of his involvment. These were the articles I had found earlier:
    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=3301974
    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=3303113

    These are two separate witnesses (not the drunk evilutionist girlfriend) that testified to the jury. As I said before, I sure would like to see the transcripts.

    I’m not sure that those facts were taken into account at sentencing, but they certainly were when the jury decided that this was manslaughter.

  99. #99 stitches
    December 15, 2007

    Where’s the outrage? The average US sentence for murdering your wife is three to six years…and the assailant/murderer doesn’t need to be “of good character.”

  100. #100 tenebrous
    December 16, 2007

    Robin Levitt

    Perhaps you’d care to elaborate on how my post was irrelevant to the topic here instead of just making a blithe dismissal.

    They argued, York came back with a knife and somehow Boa got stabbed and died. Perhaps Murder was too strong a term on my part but sentence was still too light.

  101. #101 Michael Murray
    December 16, 2007

    The judges sentencing report is here

    http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/scjudgments/2007nswsc.nsf/6ccf7431c546464bca2570e6001a45d2/0173144ca9641164ca2573b000798f6a?OpenDocument

    It is interesting how keen people are to believe media sources they wouldn’t normally trust when the report accords with their prejudices. It didn’t take much effort to find the court report above — I think I googled york and the name of the judge.

    By the way Australian judges are not elected.

    Michael

  102. #102 Robin Levett
    December 16, 2007

    @Tenebrous(#99):

    Perhaps you’d care to elaborate on how my post was irrelevant to the topic here instead of just making a blithe dismissal.

    Given that your entire post was that the sentence was a miniscule one for murder, it required little analysis. If you want to know what my views are, look at the rest of the thread. You may find my comments more easily if you spell my name correctly.

    They argued, York came back with a knife and somehow Boa got stabbed and died.

    You might want to start by finding out what happened, rather than guessing. York did not “c[o]me back with a knife”.

    Even so, on the facts as you have stated them, the appropriate outcome could be anything between an outright acquittal of any crime and a life sentence with a long tariff for murder.

    Read the sentencing report referred to in comment #100, think about it, and then come back with an argument as to why the sentence was too short.

  103. #103 Jason Failes
    December 17, 2007

    Fentwin #7 wrote:
    “Argumentum ad Homicide?”

    This meme needs to spread in the (often historical, but sadly also often contemporary) context of the highly religious/superstitous backing up their arguments, not with logic and reason, but with intimidation, violence, torture, and murder.

    That said, one comment on the heated debate here: Whatever one’s preconceptions, there seems to be an all-around call for greater details of the case. In other words, we unanimously want more facts, even when those facts may mean one’s own previous comments and speculations being proven wrong.

    That call for facts, and the willingness to change beliefs and opinions based on new facts, seperates all of us here from the creationists. (Not to mention the ability to hold a heated online debate for days without resorting to death threats)

  104. #104 NJ Salcedo
    December 19, 2007

    Today I open the door of my house in Peru, walked to the fence, and two guys pretending to be neighbors tried to give me an Atalaya pamphlet. I asked them what do they think about evolution, and after 10 minutes of anoying “conversation”, I told them that I respect their believes and I just expect them to respect mine. Now I think I am glad I didn’t open the fence… They used to say they have important news to share, now they use a decoy: “we have some information for you about from the neighborhood association” liers, liers.

    I was born and raised in Peru and I learned about evolution early in my life. In 26 years I had never heard anything such as creationism or ID there, and although I have not heard these words around yet it is hard to believe there are people that go to school and still have the nerve to say that we are god’s creation. Is the whole world going backwards now?

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