Bojidar Marinov has a little fun with me here, wishing that I would become more of a plagiarist than he pretends to believe I already am. He wishes that in my Dirty Cops post I had plagiarized from an article he wrote about the Brown and Garner cases. However, after thinking about it deeply, and after a season of unceasing prayer, and after looking this article of his that I did read, I think I’ll pass.
He begins by flattening different kinds of “riots,” intimating that the Boston Tea Party was just as bad (or worse) than our current indiscriminate rioting. It wasn’t—there are all kinds of reasons for not treating the events as in any way comparable. But that said, distinguishing them is not the same thing as approving of either. The Sons of Liberty were in fact hotheads, and no less than George Washington expressed his disapproval of what they did in no uncertain terms—he condemned “their conduct in destroying the Tea.” Principled men act on principle, and not on the basis of whose ox was being gored. John Adams, a real patriot, defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre case. In other words, the leadership at our Founding was quite different than the kind exhibited by those who need to know nothing more about a case than whether the perpetrator had black skin or a blue uniform on. The leadership, in other words, was very different than the kind Bojidar is apparently trying to exercise.
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. The reason is that particular cases are all different.
Now I happen to agree with him about a number of the stories. The Eric Garner death really was a travesty. There have been a number of others. But the Michael Brown death was not in the same category. The Freddie Gray case was in yet another category. We do have serious problems as a society in what we police, how we police, and whom we police. I am prepared to grant all of that, and argue all that. as anybody who reads here regularly knows. This is a messy world—cops can murder civilians, civilians can murder cops, cops can falsely accuse civilians of murder, and civilians can falsely accuse cops of murder. But it is a mark of how demented our times have gotten that I can be attacked for saying that the Bible requires us to find out what happened first.
Bojidar grabs at my words when I said, “I need all the facts to condemn him.” He treats this as though I were maintaining that prior to condemning the accused, the prosecution needs to know the number of molecules in the gun. But when I said “all the facts,” I of course meant all the relevant facts. So semantics aside, we agree. All the relevant facts. But we differ when it comes to what are the relevant facts.
He winnows his approach down to what he considers the relevant facts in a police shooting.
“So, really Biblically, do we need all the facts to condemn a cop? No, we need only three facts, according to the Law of God. First, was anyone killed? Second, did that cop kill him, or was it someone else? Third, did that cop use a weapon for killing to kill the victim?”
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? If the facts are suspicious (i.e. meaning that a prosecutor has probable cause for believing that the cop might be guilty of abusing his office), then there should be an indictment and there should be a trial. But in order for the cop to be convicted of murder, the prosecution has to demonstrate significantly more than what Bojidar outlines. The defendant could grant affirmative answers to all Bojidar’s questions, and not yet have begun his defense. This means that his list of relevant facts is (woefully) inadequate.
Bojidar then illustrates his understanding of biblical justice with another scenario—a rape case.
The scenario is this. A man has consensual sex with a betrothed woman in an out of the way place. They are subsequently discovered, and her defense is that she was raped. If the place was deserted, no witnesses, then her defense (even if a lie) was to be accepted. But if it was not rape, then they were both to be executed. If it was rape, then just the rapist was to be executed. In other words, this scenario works for Bojidar’s purposes only because the man’s defense (“it was consensual”) is a defense that admits to a different capital crime. If it was consensual, they would both be executed.
So Bojidar misstates his case entirely. The emphases below are mine:
“But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death. . . . (Deut. 22:25-26).
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. She may have gone with him voluntarily. She may have thrown herself on him. It doesn’t matter. He should have thought better before it happened. He is guilty, period, until he produces witnesses that can testify that the girl gave herself voluntarily.”
He gives the game away in that last sentence. This is case law, and Bojidar doesn’t understand the case. If she gave herself voluntarily, it was still a capital crime, but now for both of them. If the man defends himself by saying it was consensual, he is not really mounting a defense at all. What would we think about a defendant who argued he could not have raped the store clerk in the course of the crime because he was occupied the entire time with murdering the hostages in the back room?
So when we are looking at biblical case law, we must not expect every principle of justice to be stated every time, in every law. Certain principles extend over all the laws. We must remember what the law requires elsewhere as we are reading this particular law here. No one is to be convicted on the word of just one person (Dt. 17:6). We need independent confirmation in order to convict, and this is the case whether the accused is a cop or not.
What Bojidar needs in order for his cause to fly is a scriptural instance where a false rape accusation is made, and the defense consisted of something more than a concession to something just as bad or worse. But we don’t find that kind of thing in biblical law. For example, suppose the couple were both unattached and were both guilty of fornication, and she accused him later of an aggravated rape, a crime that carried a penalty that was much heavier than the crime he was willing to confess having actually committed. Now she has to prove what she says in order to convict, and the threshold for proving something like that is two or three witnesses. You never ratchet up on just one person’s word.
Bojidar then dedicates a paragraph to oblique references to our Greenfield/Wight case, demonstrating in quite a trenchant way my original contention that it is truly important to be in possession of all the relevant facts before passing judgment on a case — which Bojidar isn’t, by the way. But Bojidar apparently doesn’t need facts before determining what side he is on. This must be a continuation of those spiritual gifts he likes to defend—the gift of discernment and a word of knowledge, all at great distances.
Back to a cop doing his job. Bojidar says this:
“Once they are known, the cop is a murderer. Call for his execution. Again, unless he has witnesses that he was saving his own life. He shouldn’t have gotten in the fight in the first place if he doesn’t have those.”
“He shouldn’t have gotten in the fight in the first place . . .” Bojidar’s naiveté about police work here is just breathtaking. 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.” My response? You can’t be serious. If this is biblical law, then reconstructionism was way over-rated.