Child Sacrifice, Ancient and Modern

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Earlier this week The Guardian ran a story about human sacrifice and ancient Roman history. During the third century BC, the chief rival of Rome was the city of Carthage on the North African coast.

Carthage was a Phoenician city, and Roman sources always accused the Carthaginians of sacrificing their own children to their gods. I have always believed the Roman stories of Carthaginian child sacrifice, but many scholars dismissed these stories as mere propaganda. They just couldn’t be true.

But some archeologists have been amassing material evidence that seems to support the Roman sources. It looks like the Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children. One of the archeologist told The Guardian that she is experiencing some pushback from her findings.

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Kermit Gosnell’s War on Poverty

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This past spring, Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murdering babies and breaking numerous laws at his Philadelphia abortion clinic. Though he was found guilty by a jury of his peers, Gosnell maintains that he is “spiritually innocent.”

In an article in Philadelphia Magazine, Gosnell says that his actions were justified because what he did, he did to help society.

Gosnell—who was convicted in May of snipping the necks of babies born alive during abortion procedures in his West Philadelphia clinic—believes he was serving the best interests of his community and the women who came to him. “In an ideal world,” he said, “we’d have no need for abortion. But bringing a child into the world when it cannot be provided for, that there are not sufficient systems to support, is a greater sin. I considered myself to be in a war against poverty, and I feel comfortable with the things I did and the decisions I made.”

Gosnell contends he is “innocent” of the charges against him, laying out complicated—and not particularly credible—reasons he should have been found not guilty. When Volk asked him if he was actually referring to his own sense of “spiritual innocence,” Gosnell responded, “Yes.”

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On the Rightness of Exercising your Rights

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This weekend a Florida jury decided that George Zimmerman did not murder Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman exercised his right to defend himself with lethal force. My knowledge of this case is far from perfect, but the evidence seems to cast shadows of doubt every which way. The jury found that Zimmerman operated within the rights which Florida state-law granted him.

This case has once again caused me to ponder the relationship between “rights” and “rightness.” I believe that having the right to do something does not entail that the exercising of that right is always morally right. We equivocate easily. Shouldn’t a right always be right? I don’t think so.

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