By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Jeff Jacoby and the bishops

The year would not be complete without Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby’s telling us that, yes, he’s still in favor of the death penalty. What makes today’s column special is that he presumes to teach religion to the Catholic bishops. It comes right after the sentence in which he writes, “I wouldn’t presume to teach religion to a bishop.”

Part one of Jacoby’s two-parter is here.

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  1. mike_b1

    I hope Jacoby was a better lawyer than he is a columnist. Somehow, I doubt that he was …

  2. Rick in Duxbury

    Personal, ad hominem attacks do little to advance the discussion. If abolition of capital punishment means more to you than victim’s rights, (and at some point it comes down to that), why not be honest enough to admit it?

  3. LaReinaCobre

    I don’t think it comes down to that. Everyone’s rights are restricted to some extent. The victim does not necessarily have the right to execute the person who committed a crime against them.

  4. mike_b1

    Not sure who Rick is targeting his comments at, Jacoby or me.Jacoby shows a weak understanding of the catechism.Article 5 (aka the fifth commandment) reads, literally: “You shall not kill” (54 Exodus 20:13, and Deut. 5:17). Not, “You shall not murder” (as Jacoby writes it. Two different things entirely.And Article 5, 2258, reads “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being”(CDF, instruction, Donum vitae, intro. 5).I’m a lapsed Catholic, but one who spent 8 years in parachiol school and studied the Bible as literature in a college class. I’m used to Jacoby trying to blur lines in his feeble attempts to build a case, but he’s being just plain silly here, not to mention wrong.

  5. mike_b1

    P.S. I know, I know. I typed “parochial” wrong.

  6. Steve

    Heh.At a synagogue brotherhood breakfast, he presumed to argue the Talmud’s interpretation of the death penalty with our rabbi. At least he was more qualified to do that, if marginally so.

  7. Rick in Duxbury

    Ah, directed to you Mike. (I’ll see your 8 years and raise you a Catholic high school diploma and a Jesuit degree.)When it comes to mind-bending ambiguities on some issues, Catholicism can be right up there with the Talmud. Even with all my training in defending the indefensible however, (e.g. Bernard Law), I have trouble with seeing Tookie Williams as “an innocent human being”.

  8. Steve

    Mike -I have no idea what’s in the catechism, but I know the commandments.The fifth (Exodus 20:13), “Lo tirtsach” is literally “don’t murder”.

  9. mike_b1

    Steve, you know the relevant passage, because I keyed it in above.

  10. mike_b1

    And Rick, I wasn’t making any commentary on victim’s right, etc. Although I’m still waiting for that first murder victim to be brought back to life by putting someone else to death. Would be nice if Jacoby would come out and say he wants to put blacks who commit crimes to death, rather than hiding behind the Catholic justification for it, which he badly misinterprets.

  11. Rick in Duxbury

    Had a feeling that was where you were headed, Mike. If you want to play the race card, knock yourself out. I hope it suddenly becomes more productive for you than history would suggest. Personally, I think it marginalizes those African Americans who find a way to cope with an admittedly crappy deal. If you think that Jacoby is less sincere than, say, Al Sharpton, we really don’t have much to talk about, do we?

  12. mike_b1

    I don’t think Jacoby is insincere. But he clearly wants to be the hangman.And it seems just as clear you want to stand right next to him on the platform while he does the deed. Inexcusable.

  13. Anonymous

    Jacoby is too delusional for the question of his sincerity to even matter. Dan, *this* is what it takes for you to get on Jacoby’s case?

  14. Rick in Duxbury

    If some things are, in fact, “inexcusable”, perhaps we are not as far apart as we thought, Mike.

  15. Neil

    It brings to mind the old joke about Catholics, that their concern for human life begins at conception and ends at birth. Why is it that the bishops for all this time did not oppose the death penalty with the same vigor that they oppose abortion? I give them credit for at long last bringing consistency to their faith by granting living humans, whether in a state of grace or sin, as much compassion as they grant fertilized eggs. It’s about time.I’m amazed at Jacobi’s summary of the bishops’ statement. In other words, he says, “No act of murder, however calculated or cruel or catastrophic, requires as a matter of sheer decency that the murderer forfeit his life.”I think he got a little carried away with the alliteration, and find the “but what about when we’re really sure he did it, and he was really bad” argument irrelevant. The opposition to the death penalty is a matter of principle, not individual circumstance.Capital punishment–it’s a matter of sheer decency! “Decency” of course is subjective so that argument is simply a call to emotion, not reason.

  16. John Galt

    Jacoby, much like Brooks, has been fisheyed for years as suspected recipients of the infamous “Rupert Rupees.” Corrosive flunky or syncophant, his depraved indifference to truth defined him.

  17. Bill Baar

    What about the child killer down in Florida? I respect people who take an absolutist position on the death penalty and Illinois did a horrible job implementing the punishment.But sometimes there are sure some people who sure look like they deserve it and lethal injection pretty liberal for them considering their crimes.

  18. mike_b1

    Personally, I understand all the arguments pro and con. And I still don’t support capital punishment.More germane, Catholic scripture doesn’t support it either.

  19. Joe Schmo

    Thought question: How much of Jacoby’s invective is what he “really thinks” and how much is a “stage persona” of sorts that he adopts while writing his column?Having seen & worked with many pubradio talk show hosts (probably among the most true-to-thyself crowd there is) I can attest that most of them do adopt something of an alter ego when they plunk down behind the mic. It’s not usually so much as acting like a different person as it is just amplifying all their intrinsic emotions and opinions so they better come across the airwaves.I would think it’s not all that different for print columnists when writing opinion columns, either. Of course one can be cynical and say “well, it’s controversy that sells so Jacoby knows he damn well piss SOMEONE off in every column” but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and suggest maybe it’s more subtle than that?

  20. Anonymous

    “Subtle”? We’re talking about Jacoby here. He doesn’t do subtle. He does over the top, in your face, “It’s true if I say it’s true!” venomous hysteria.He doesn’t deserve his space on the Globe op-ed page. And he doesn’t deserve the attention we’re giving him here. (Dislosures: I’m the same “Anonymous” as above, at 11:27 a.m. I am a Globe subscriber. I am not a Herald subscriber. I do not know Jacoby or anyone else on the Globe op-ed page personally.)

  21. Anonymous

    The 1:35 Anonymous is exactly right. The only reason Jacoby is in print is the Globe needs to appear balanced. Even in that role, his abuse of logic and truth in defense of the current RNC dogma make him a boring read.I agree that subtle just isn’t in his vocabulary. He dishes out the same crayon conservatism as “Mallard Fillmore,” but with a lot more words. He’s often funnier, but I don’t think that’s intentional.Let’s call him an argument against affirmative action for right-wingers.

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