Total Drek

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

In which Drek remarks on religion and then wanders off in a different direction entirely

It gives me no joy to comment on this, but a pair of trials are now ongoing for two parents who allowed their daughter to die while waiting for god to save her:

A father charged with killing his daughter by praying instead of taking her to a doctor read from the Bible while testifying Thursday that he couldn't seek medical help without disobeying God.

Dale Neumann told the jury he didn't seek medical help for his child because "I can't do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed."

He added: "If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do."

Neumann, 47, is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the March 23, 2003, death of his 11-year-old daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors say he should have taken the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or speak.

Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed.


This is not, of course, the only time this has happened, or even the first time I've mentioned it. As with every other time, however, it makes me sad. There are those who believe- and insist to me- that religion is a force for good in this world. There are also those- like Richard Dawkins- who insist equally firmly that it is a force for evil. Dawkins, for example, has gone so far as to refer to religion as a "mind virus," a sort of parasitic meme that harms mankind more than it helps. I don't know if I agree with him on that or not, but I often find myself thinking that religion is not unlike the bacteria that live in our intestines. Often they help us by performing useful functions but if allowed to get out of control can kill their host. Perhaps religion can be modeled as though it is a virus but, even so, maybe it is only religious extremism that constitutes the disease.

And on a mostly unrelated note- at the bottom of the article I quote above I noticed something curious:

Neumann's wife, Leilani, testified earlier that she noticed her daughter had been weaker and drank a lot of water — some early symptoms of diabetes — about two weeks before she died. Leilani Neumann was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6.

The prosecutions of the mother and father were separated so that each could be called upon to testify in the case against the other. [emphasis added]


So, my understanding is that since these two people are married, they cannot be compelled to testify against each other because of spousal privilege. Or is it acceptable in this case since other people- who were outside of that relationship- were present and, therefore, certain things are not covered? Anyone have an idea?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Warbler said...

Well, there's actually 2 different types of marriage privilege. 1) The defendant can prevent his or her spouse from revealing things said in confidence during marriage. 2) A spouse can refuse to testify against the other. So if the proffered testimony is not a confidential utterance, then either or both can CHOOSE to testify against the other.

And that was going to be my answer until I looked it up on Wikipedia and noticed that there's a more simple answer for this exceptional case. Apparently when the child is the victim (or either spouse), they just throw out the spousal privilege.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Rybear said...

I appreciated the caveat toward the end about "religious extremists". But in my mind a religious extremeist is more like the Amish. This guy in the story, and of course we don't know all the factors, sounds like n idiot or there is more going on then is let on.

I am a chaplain at a Children's Hospital and I see families all the time who wrap their psychological problems in spiritual language. Their child lies brain dead and they say "her spirit is deciding whether to stay or go to heaven". When I hear this I don't think that is true, I think this family is feeling guilty that they caused this to happen and are in denial about the consequences of their actions.

This guy sounds no different. He's using the Bible to justify his actions that killed his child. There is nothing in the Bile that says "don't go to a doctor". If someone broke into his house and threatened his family with a gun would he pray and wait for God or call the police? It's no different.

Saturday, August 08, 2009 10:10:00 AM  

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