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 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

  2. #2 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.

  3. #3 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)”.

  4. #4 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)”.

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