What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Pray again for Ken Miller

Remember Pastor Ken Miller? He was the Mennonite pastor who was tried and convicted of assisting a kidnapping (or some such crime) because he helped ex-lesbian Lisa Miller (no relation) escape from the country with her daughter Isabella. When I say "daughter" I mean that Isabella was her own biological daughter. A judge had ordered that full custody of Isabella be given to the former lesbian lover of Lisa Miller to punish Lisa for (after trying it) eventually not allowing Isabella to have unsupervised, overnight visits with her former lesbian lover, who is (I stress) no relation of Isabella's at all. Vermont law, however, regarded the lesbian as the child's "other mother" solely on the grounds that Lisa had given birth to her (by artificial insemination) when they were in the legal relationship of a civil union. (Please, please, please remember this case next time some foolish person recommends civil unions as the "conservative" response to homosexual "marriage.")

Lisa became a Christian, broke off the relationship, and fled to Virginia. Eventually she fled the country with Isabella. That was years ago. Meanwhile, the federal government has persistently persecuted all of her former friends and associates who helped her to flee the country.

Pastor Miller is not in jail right now because his lawyer cleverly appealed his conviction on the grounds that the trial was held in the wrong venue. He's also not in jail right now because, as you can see following the case, the judge was fairly sympathetic to him and almost hated to oversee the prosecution. I follow the Miller case here.

Now Pastor Miller's lawyer has warned him that new charges will probably be brought against him in the next ninety days. Ain't that sweet? The feds saved up some charges in case they didn't git him the first time. You know, sort of like when some scumball murders and tortures several people and the government breaks up the charges into different trials so that they can get multiple whacks at bringing the scumball to justice without committing double jeopardy.

Only not really like that.

I don't actually know what these new charges are going to be. As always, I am in awe of Pastor Miller's calmness, his respectfulness for those in authority, his integrity. In the face of this never-ending persecution, undeniably politically motivated, he never wavers and never reviles.

Those of you who are Christians, pray for Pastor Miller yet again.

Comments (15)

I take it Lisa Miller is still out of country?

A legal question: Suppose L. Miller had moved to a state whose laws do not allow for either civil unions or gay "marriage." Would she have been safe there?

Yes, she is. Location unknown.

She did flee to such a state. And no, she wasn't safe. The only thing she did achieve was quite a lot of delay, attempting to get the custody decision adjudicated by the laws of her new state of residence. But eventually it was decided that the state of origin of the civil union (Vermont) had authority over custody decisions rather than her and the child's state of residence (Virginia). That was appealed pretty high up but eventually the decision that authority rested with Vermont was left standing. So the Vermont judge ordered unsupervised, overnight visitation. Lisa allowed that a few times but decided it was doing Isabella no good and eventually refused. She was fined out the wazoo. (Don't know if she paid those fines.)

Eventually the Vermont judge got exasperated at her non-compliance and ordered full custody be given to the other woman. That was when Lisa fled the country. She had met Ken Miller and the Mennonites of his group in Virginia. Several other members have also been charged with assisting her, but I gather their cases are moving slowly through the system.

It seems Miller inadvertently pioneered a modern underground railroad, except by fleeing South and out of the country. There's some irony in there somewhere.

Except I think she was ultimately driven north and into Canada. I forget what makes me think this, though. Maybe something I read about his trial?

The feds saved up some charges in case they didn't git him the first time. You know, sort of like when some scumball murders and tortures several people and the government breaks up the charges into different trials so that they can get multiple whacks at bringing the scumball to justice without committing double jeopardy.

This is what happens when the massively expanded police powers the law and order conservatives demanded fall into the hands of the left. It's much like how conservatives are just SHOCKED that the Bank Secrecy Act and civil asset forfeiture laws are being "abused" to mainly hurt small businesses and depositors. None of these powers, even up to the PATRIOT Act, were ever formally set aside for specific classes of offense. They're all general options in the government's toolbox to use as policy makers see fit. I still remember the shock of a lot of conservatives I knew when the FBI admitted its main use of the PATRIOT Act was outside of counter-terrorism cases.

Cases like Miller's are a prime example of why there is no such thing as a "limited government conservative" who is opposed to serious reform of our legal system.

I don't actually have any clear proposals for legal reform related to breaking up charges. I'm not entirely sure that breaking up charges is in general wrong. For example, if you gun down three people in one incident, it doesn't seem to me wrong that you can be charged separately with each murder, with a different jury convened for each. If the government is willing to spend the money for the multiple prosecutions, it seems to me *in principle* a legitimate way to proceed. Yet this is clearly an abuse thereof because a) the original "act" for which they are charging him seems clearly a single, discrete thing, so it seems like it must be gerrymandered for them to make up multiple charges and b) the prosecution it is clearly motivated by political and ideological animus. The former of those might provide scope for more general reform but would be hard to get precise. The latter is always a danger within any legal system. Prosecution is never automatic and always involves judgement calls, prosecutorial discretion, etc., and it is always possible for these to be abused for ideological ends. No legal reform is going to change that, in my opinion.

In general, I think it's wrong because in the main it's a severe abuse of the juries and a waste of prosecutorial resources. The main ethically valid reasons to not bring charges are mercy and a weak case. If prosecutors are allowed to break up charges like this without a compelling case, it allows them to spend years hounding someone. In cases like this, we see that it's rather easy to turn prosecutorial discretion into a tool of persecution.

Honestly, this case could be resolved by giving judges the ability to nullify enforcement of the law when they feel prosecutors are using the law against decency and the public interest. The presiding judge should be able to ask why the prosecutor didn't bring these new charges the last time. If the reason isn't in the public interest, the judge should be able to throw them out regardless of the merits as a punishment to the government.

Mike T:
It seems the problem is that laws are only as good as the people who enforce or interpret them. Form virtuous people and most any law will serve them well. Allow vice to run rampant and even the best of laws will be twisted and perverted into the persecution of the just..

Matthew, this is very true. We are being treated ever more fully to the view of more-or-less good (or decent) laws being perverted by bad men in official positions: judges, prosecutors, police, administrative officials, etc. Men who are willing to get what they want, in positions of trust, will use the "law" to get what they want.

I disagree that many are "good and just" laws that are being perverted. The last estimate I saw is that there are over 4,200 direct federal misdemeanors and felonies, and several tens of thousands of regulations that can be criminalized. You cannot look at those numbers and conclude that this is a good system overrun by bad apples. This is the result of rampant overcriminalization which has lead to absurdities like charging a non-violent drug dealer who happened to have a small handgun concealed during a sale with half a dozen to a dozen criminal violations, many of which are just related to the presence of the gun. It's a crime to "structure" your deposits and withdrawals at the bank. Need I go on? We've gone from about 16 common law felonies to several hundred felonies just at the federal level.

Mike, Matthew's(and my) point was not that "there are many good laws" but that "even when a law is good in itself, a bad man in a position of power can and will pervert it." This is still valid, and holds also for laws that are moderately good or neutral considered independent of the larger context, but also contribute toward a damaged culture by being one of too many laws.

I understand Mike's argument, though, that it is _not_ a good practice _ever_ to allow prosecutors to break up charges for a single incident. I'm not dogmatic on that one way or another. I understand Mike's point and argument, yet in the type of case I cited (one man murders several people, gunning them all down in several minutes), I can see the other side of the case. If you get a stupid jury that won't convict an evildoer for one of the murders, you can get a better jury for one of the others. That this is _inherently_ unjust or even obviously a foolish or imprudent power to allow to prosecutors is not something I am convinced of. That persecuting Ken Miller is an abuse is, however, obvious.

I'm not opposed to it in all situations. I am opposed to it in anything other than a case where it is used for a valid public purpose. That would only be mercy or lack of evidence.

I am plenty convinced that the sheer multiplicity of laws - like Mike's 6 to 12 "crimes" to be found in just selling a hit of cocaine with a gun in your pocket - is a very bad thing, and getting ever more sure of it, seeing ever more reasons to deplore it.

Even apart from the sheer number of things for which there is now a law that is obligatory (a problem in its own right), the mentality that it harbors in the public, and the mentality that engenders it in the government, are both corrosive and have been damaging out polity. On the latter: If by "rule of law" the legislators mean they refuse to leave up to the judgment of decent men (like your local meat inspector) when X is allowable and when it is not, and instead they write a picayune law that spells out in grotesque detail HOW, WHEN, WHERE, etc a meat inspection shall result in a determination it's bad, that means that they are pretending that "law" can operate without human beings who are both the willing AND intelligent agents of law. And at the same time, if government is to be composed of any and all persons who apply for a job regardless of their MORAL quality, so that nobody would WANT to rely on the judgment of the low-grade official anyway and should feel ready (almost obliged) to disagree in court with such adverse decisions, again the net result is not a picture of laws made by intelligent men for the common good being implemented also by men of good will and judgment with prudence, but rather a false picture of law being a steel structure on which all decisions are to be made by rote - by robots, preferably - and followed no matter how poorly that outcome serves the common good.

That 's on one side. On the other, you will get (and we have gotten) judges and others who pretend, as perhaps an over-reaction, that a "law" is nothing but a vague expression of whim, which can be re-interpreted with infinite plasticity to fit the preferences of the judge or official and his or her world-view.

Not surprisingly, both of these - along with the sheer excess of laws - have the result that the public at large don't view obedience to law as a positive virtue of a citizen, but as something to be borne except when nobody is looking. Nobody but a naif obeys all the laws, in this view.

A great comment. The point about how an over-detailed law assumes a mechanical view of society is most appreciated.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.