U.S Notes & Quotes

Natural Born Imitators

NATIONAL REVIEW, Dec. 31—Peter Schweizer marshaled surprising evidence that Natural Born Killers, a movie about the glorification of violence, itself glorified violence in the eyes of its largely teen audience.

“Though other movies have prompted copycat crimes, Natural Born Killers is in a class by itself. The film has apparently played a role in more than a dozen murders,” he wrote.

“In 1994, a 14-year old boy accused of decapitating a 13-year-old girl in Texas reportedly told police he wanted to be famous like the Natural Born Killers. In Utah, a teenager became so obsessed with the movie he shaved his head and wore tinted granny glasses like Mickey (Woody Harrelson), the main character, and allegedly murdered his stepmother and half sister. A Georgia teenager accused of shooting to death an 82-year-old Florida man shouted at television cameras, ‘I'm a natural-born killer!’ Four other Georgians in their 20s were charged with killing a truck driver and fleeing in his vehicle after watching the movie 19 times. In Massachusetts, in 1995, three youths aged 18 to 20 were accused of killing an old man, stabbing him 27 times: ‘Haven't you seen Natural Born Killers before?’ one bragged to his girlfriend.”

Citizens, Lawmakers, Bishops — On Iraq Bombing

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, Dec. 17—“Many Coloradans are suspicious,” began a report on the bombing of Iraq that the White House ordered on the eve of a scheduled impeachment debate. “Some support President Clinton's decision to bomb Iraq but wonder at the timing.”

The article quoted lawmakers and citizens who believed the bombing was motivated by the President's desire to avoid impeachment — and Churchmen who used carefully chosen but strong words about the bombing, but did not ascribe motives to the President.

“Clinton's decision to bomb Iraq is a blatant and disgraceful use of military force for his own personal gain,” Colorado Springs Representative Joel Hefley told the paper. “That any American president would stoop to endangering the lives of our American military personnel to delay impeachment proceedings in the House is absolutely reprehensible.”

Continued the article, “Condemnation of the raids came quickly from the religious community.” It quoted Archbishop Charles Chaput, who said, “I'm astonished and disappointed. I'm disappointed that we didn't exercise more restraint.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Dec. 18 quoted Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, archbishop there, saying, “While I understand and share the frustration over the situation in Iraq, I am greatly saddened” by the bombings. He continued, “The taking of an innocent human life is always tragic and can never be accepted as unavoidable.”

School Aims to Produce Moral Lawyers

New York Times News Service, Dec. 13—A recent article about Pepperdine, an evangelical law school in Southern California, began by describing the huge cross that sits on a hill overlooking the campus. The school means to plant the cross in the hearts of students, as well, said the New York Times report.

The University's aim is to make moral lawyers. It quoted one third-year student saying, “We're not just here to learn to be attorneys but to learn to be virtuous attorneys both in our performance and in our hearts.”

It noted that the school received a lot of attention since Independent Counsel Ken Starr accepted, and then rejected under pressure, a job offer there shortly before meeting Linda Tripp and beginning the chapter in his investigation that ended with the impeachment of President Clinton for perjury.

“Often in conversations here, Starr was cited as an example of a moral lawyer, while Clinton's legalistic distinctions were used as examples of strategies that Christian lawyers should reject,” said the paper. It quoted one second-year student who said, “At Pepperdine they teach you: ‘Don't try and get off on your little technicalities.’”

One professor told the paper that a lawyer's morality is as important as his knowledge. It quoted Douglas Kmiec saying, “If you're going to hold yourself out as a counselor giving people advice, you can't give incomplete advice.” Kmiec teaches papal encyclicals in addition to court opinions, it said.

The paper quoted others at the University stressing that in order to teach morality they must also be a first-rate college. Its 650 students, the report noted, take the standard bar examinations and work in traditional legal jobs as the school “seeks to produce students who can compete with graduates of other law schools for jobs.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy