View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, July 21, 2003

Spencer Watch

I don't want to pick on Jim Spencer. Well, ok, I do. So I will. From now on. For the moment, this is of mostly local interest. But having seen Molly Ivins, MoDo, and Paul Krugman become columnists with national readership and syndication, I've come to believe that pretty much anything is possible. So why wait?

Spencer, as mentioned below, has some writing skills, some limited reasoning ability, and presumably wasn't a total wash-out as a reporter. But as a columnist, he's a waste of space. A fine example is his column on the Nuns Who Hammered. These are three pacifist nuns who broke into a federal facility (housed on private farmland) to sprinkle blood and a few symbolic hammer taps on a nuclear silo. The nuns are all in their 60s, and sending old women to jail for anything short of armed robbery does seem a little silly. If he stopped there, of course, there wouldn't be much of a column. So Spencer needs to boil up sympathy for the nuns based on their politics, which means based on his.

It's called downward departure. It's a fancy term that means making the punishment fit the crime.

So it's only making the punishment fit, if it's more lenient?

The guidelines call for these women, who have devoted their lives to promoting peace and nonviolence, to serve six to eight years in the penitentiary.

No, these nuns have been promoting pacifism and disarmament, which is something entirely different. The North Korean mission to the United Nations would seem to be a more appropriate place to protest.

Devoting your life to peace in a war-torn world qualifies not only as extraordinary, but as exemplary.

Using the cover of your religion to claim the moral and ethical high ground for freedom's mortal enemies is execrable, not admirable. These women aren't Mother Teresa, they're 60's radicals who never took advantage of the intellectual and moral depth of their religious training to grow up.

It's quite clear that if these nuns protested abortion, Spencer wouldn't have any sympathy for them at all.

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