The Victims Are Still Under the Bus
I reckon it doesn’t take long to write a non-reply. Perhaps between two cups of coffee in the morning, and, bam, it’s ready. Not that I know it of personal experience; just admiring Douglas Wilson’s quickness of producing a piece that claims to reply to my critique, and yet in all the paragraphs in that piece there is not a single answer to the most important point of my article. I guess he has a lifetime of experience on me. It’ll take me weeks to word something so as to look as a reply, and not really be a reply.
I will ignore his personal insinuations that I am trying to “exercise” leadership over the riots, or that I have a “political agenda.” There’s an ilk of people that are so enamored with power that instinctively assume that every criticism against them must be some sort of a power game, some competitive agenda to their own. I am not playing power games. I know how to play them if I wanted, from never saying anything specific to keep as many “followers” as happy as I can, to creating my own denomination and even accreditation agency to legitimize my own church and business. I just don’t want to play that game. I don’t even believe in “leadership.” I believe in a society of independent self-governing individuals. I don’t compete with churchian celebrity-types for power. Wilson can sleep secure.
What is more important is that he really didn’t write a reply. Or, may be he wrote a reply to what he perceived to be the main point of my article: an assault on his precious ego. He certainly didn’t write a reply to my real main point – mentioned even in the title – namely, true justice for the victims. Nah, who cares about the victims. Wilson replies to things that I didn’t speak about, or which are irrelevant to the point of my critique. Just whatever, as long as the “followers” are convinced that a “reply” was presented.
Anyway, since he is giving me the opportunity to expose him as a lousy thinker at best, I’ll jump at it.
I was really excited when he said in the beginning that he did read my article on “Brown, Garner, and the Application of Biblical Law to Homicide and Murder.” Man, I thought, this guy is quick: overnight, he read my article, he read the other article, and he wrote a non-reply. He even emphasized it: “. . . this article of his that I did read. . . .” [emphasis in the original].
There is only one problem, though. He clearly shows he hasn’t read it. For example, at the very end of his article, in the last two paragraphs, where he comes up with the following case:
A cop is called to a scene of domestic violence. A man is threatening his wife and kids, and has been waving a gun around. The cop and his partner approach the house. As they work through the house, they move toward the kitchen in the back by different routes. The suspect jumps out on one of the cops, gun leveled, and the cop drops him. Seconds later, the other cop appears. There were no witnesses to confirm that the deceased had ever pointed his gun at the cop.
Bojidar’s response? “Should have thought of that possibility before you joined the force, son. I am calling for your execution.”
Except that, in that article that Wilson claims that he did read [emphasis in the original], I have a subsection on that case specifically, of someone waving a gun around. It starts with the following paragraph:
This brings us to an important conclusion: if a thief can be killed at night because there is no way to tell if he is simply a thief or a violent aggressor, then during the day, when it is possible to tell them apart, it must be lawful to kill a violent aggressor. The question now is: How do we tell a violent aggressor from a thief, and that before he has attacked anyone?
It then continues for another 7 paragraphs, close to 900 words, or 10% of the whole article. This is 900 words, for crying out loud! In that section, I specifically cover the issue of how we tell a violent aggressor from a peaceful individual, and what is lawful to be done with a violent aggressor, in any situation. Especially in a situation like the one described by Wilson, where there are weaker victims – and therefore witnesses – of the behavior of the violent aggressor. (Wilson doesn’t seem to realize that his own case presupposes there are witnesses, but . . . oh, well.) I derived it from an earlier case, that of the thief in the house. I tied it to the concept of the intent of the killer, and of the nature of the weapon in his hand, and also to the difference in strength between the aggressor and his victims. Etc., etc.
And then Wilson, who claims he did read the article, puts in my mouth a response that is completely opposite to what I wrote in that article that he supposedly did read. How is it possible that he has read the article and yet has missed exactly the most relevant section to his case? “. . . this article of his that I did read. . . .” If you are going to lie, at least don’t emphasize it.
There’s more evidence that he hasn’t read the article he says he did read. It is here:
I agree with this, so far as it goes (we do need to know these things), but there is a fourth fact we also need. “Fourth, was the killing justified according to the law of God?” Was the killing in self-defense? Was the person killed in the midst of killing somebody else? Was it an accident? . . .
Again, did I say that these are not relevant? In the very article to which Wilson writes his non-reply, I specifically included that issue as relevant. Here:
What if the cop acted in self-defense? It is possible, and I covered this in the article I wish Wilson had plagiarized.
That is, in the article Wilson claimed he did read. When I go to that article to see if I really covered it, well, yes, I did. It’s a whole section, with its own separate title, and guess what, “self-defense” is right there in the title! A good 2,500 words, or 28% of the article Wilson claims he did read! What about “an accident”? It is there too. Another section a little above, “The Difference Between Murder and Homicide,” and guess what, it discusses “accidents” in no less than 800 words!
So Wilson did read my article, and he still writes as if I never mentioned these cases of Biblically justified killing?
I guess he has an excuse here: He wants to include the possible justification for the killing as a “fourth fact” to the other three facts, not as a separate case. But this excuse only reveals him as a lousy thinker, at best, for he fails to consider all the judicial ramifications of it. The Law of God doesn’t include this as a “fourth fact” to be considered by the court. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “he is a murderer only after it has been established that the murder was not Biblically justified.” The judges are not called to automatically examine whether a murder is justified. There is a reason for it, and that reason obviously escapes Wilson. The reason is that “Biblically justified” is not an abstract issue, it is a counter-accusation against the victim. For the court to even consider it, it means that the court needs to assume possible guilt in the victim. That possible guilt needs its own witnesses to be established. If a man waves a gun in his own house and threatens his wife and children, they are the witnesses, and therefore his killing is justified. But this is entirely different from shooting after a retreating person who is not threatening anyone, on whom there is neither a warrant nor a court verdict. The text in the Bible is clear: killing with a weapon for killing is automatically assumed to be murder. If it is justified, bring charges against the dead man, and let the facts behind these charges be confirmed by witnesses.
Perhaps Wilson’s lousy thinking on this issue – not considering all the ramifications of his position – is caused by his assumption that cops must have that privilege of the benefit of the doubt, unlike private individuals. This statist assumption is way too common among modern American church-goers. I have never seen anyone ask that question, “Was it Biblically justified?”, when a cop is killed by a private citizen. I used the same argument about the sniper who shot four cops in Dallas a few weeks ago: “Do we have all the facts to decide if it was a murder?” I immediately got angry responses from the same people who use that same argument when cops kill someone. I guess, that lousy quality of thinking is not limited to Wilson; he knows his audience well.
That lousy thinking is obvious also when we see his attempt to reply to my treatment of the case of rape. I mean, seriously lousy thinking. I used that case for a very specific purpose, to support a very specific argument. My words were very specific:
That we don’t need to know all the facts is also clear from another example, related to murder, that of rape in the absence of witnesses. . . .
Then again, I repeated it:
No need for witnesses to establish guilt. The only facts that need to be known are that the man was with the girl in the field, and that she accused him of rape.
The main point is this, obviously: There is a case where guilt is established without any independent witnesses. In fact, the very description of the case in the Law of God specifically declares there are no independent witnesses! That’s what my point is, and I said it and I repeated it. I was not trying to make a detailed exegesis of the case. I got a specific judicial principle out of that case, to show Wilson where he is mistaken.
And what does he do? He delivers a lecture on the case which may or may not be good exegesis, but is irrelevant to the point in question. And what does he say on the main point, which I repeated twice? Zero. Zero response to the argument that in the case of rape in the field, by the very definition of it, a man is accused without any independent witnesses. And then Wilson continues moralizing about “principles,” while ignoring my point. And he even tells me I “don’t understand the case,” while ignoring my main point. Nice example of ignoratio elenchi there, Doug.
The examples of lousy thinking, as well as the evidence that he actually has not read my article he claims he did read, don’t stop there. Another one of them is his adorable and touching appeal to schoolgirl-type sentimentalism:
Lest you think I exaggerate, anyone who sees Bojidar’s Facebook feed knows that he routinely posts stories of police atrocities, and never any stories of cops rescuing some little girl’s kitten. But someone who does that has a political agenda, an ax to grind, which is not the same thing as an interest in justice in particular cases.
Leaving to myself a mental note to regularly post pictures of little girls’ kittens heroically saved by brave police officers risking their lives in the line of duty, just to cater to Wilson’s highly sensitive and sentimental heart, I can’t help but wonder, does this guy actually understand the difference between justice and righteousness as the foundations of God’s Throne on one hand, and emotionalism on the other? Does he understand the nature of covenantal, ethical/judicial thinking? Judging someone to have a political agenda simply because he doesn’t post pictures of kittens saved by cops, as if saving a kitten can be an ethical/judicial counter-balance to murder? Are you kiddin’ me? Hitler was even a vegetarian, he never hurt an animal, and in fact pioneered the establishment of nature reserves in Europe for protection of nature. Does that count against the concentration camps? Would posting it make him look more humane? Seriously, this guy is a church minister? A Reformed church minister? Boy, our times are demented, indeed. And the dementia has started from the House of God, apparently, if church ministers can’t figure the covenantal difference between human life and animal life.
Is it possible that such disbalance on my page, so offensive to Wilson’s tender feelings, is the result of a theological conviction, of a principled position supported by Scriptural and historical evidence? For example, that police is a pagan invention and shouldn’t exist at all as a professional standing army, according to the Law of God? Just like government schools, or the IRS, or the Department of Education, or the EPA shouldn’t exist, because they are un-Biblical? Why should my posts be the result of an “axe to grind,” why not an axe to the root, a theological view?
Wait, but that’s exactly what I said in that article that Wilson claims he did read! There is, yes, another section in it, prior to the previously mentioned sections, 900 words long, titled, “No Special Class with Special Executive Rights.” That’s another 900 words of systematic defense of the position that the Bible doesn’t allow for the existence of professional police! Not to mention a number of other articles and podcasts where I defend the idea with even more Biblical evidence and historical evidence and examples, not to mention the example of the very United States in which we live today, which didn’t have professional police for two generations after the Constitution. How is it “political agenda,” if there is a clear Biblical case I am defending? And I am not alone; Rushdoony in his Institutes also speaks of policing as belonging to the whole community, not to professional police. Did Rushdoony also have a political agenda, an axe to grind? Clearly, it is a sign of demented times if church ministers can’t make the difference between a Biblical theological case and a political agenda.
And how is it possible that Wilson did read my article and yet claims that it has nothing to do with justice, but with some political agenda?
Who has a political agenda is clear from Wilson’s appeal to some special character of police work:
Bojidar’s naiveté about police work here is just breathtaking.
What kind of reasoning is that? My naiveté about the work of concentration camp guards – and I suppose, Wilson’s too – is even more breathtaking. Does that mean he and I have no right to discuss issues of justice when it comes to concentration camp guards? Given that Wilson has spoken on issues like abortion and sodomy, are we to assume that he has some direct, intimate knowledge about both? Think about it, this guy wrote once a textbook on logic! Demented times, I tell ya.
We know who in our culture today uses that argument to shut down discussions: “You can’t speak on the ethics of something if you don’t know the technicalities of it.” It certainly isn’t a Biblical argument. Wilson’s use of it only places him in the same camp of those who want to shut down all ethical discourse under the pretense of “expertise” or “personal experience.” I can’t imagine why a Christian would want to place technical expertise or experience above issues of justice. But Wilson does it. There, your political agenda.
And after all these examples of lousy thinking and proofs that he lied when he said he did read my article, where’s his treatment of the main issue, the victims?
Nowhere. There’s nothing. The victims are not even mentioned.
In his world, a victim must be assumed guilty. That’s what his “fourth fact” of justified killing implies. You can’t argue for justified killing unless you also argue for the victim’s blood guiltiness. But the victim is dead. He can’t defend his case. If the killer is known, and his guilt is not assumed for the very fact of killing, then the guilt of the victim is assumed. Once the killer is known, the “innocent-until-proven-guilty” principle can not be applied. For if it is applied, it has a reverse side: The victim is now considered guilty until proven innocent. And the victim is at disadvantage – he is dead. There, the victim is thrown under the bus.
Of course, of course, Wilson has some vague excuses to avoid thinking in such concrete terms. For example:
Certain principles extend over all the laws.
Like what? I would like to see the principle of his “fourth fact” extended to the rape of a 12-year old girl: “Was the rape Biblically justified?” No? Why not? If the same principle applies to homicide, why not to rape, and to theft, and to all the other crimes? If it doesn’t apply to other crimes, why should it apply to homicide? Wilson doesn’t say.
So, after so many words, Wilson actually didn’t reply to my critique. What he replied to are side issues. He certainly lied that he has read my article; it is obvious he doesn’t even know what’s in it. And he left out the main issue: the victims. The victims are still under the bus.
Because, y’know, dead men and raped 12-year-old girls don’t vote, and don’t pay tithes. And right there is where the real political agenda is.