[Buddha-l] Ethical Dilemmas

Donna Bair-Mundy donnab at hawaii.edu
Mon Jun 14 17:36:53 MDT 2010

   The equation of Aztec sacrifice and the entire current U.S. legal system 
is unfortunate.  However, when reading the description of Aztec sacrifice 
I couldn't help but recall a painting of people (including children, as I 
recall) having a picnic around the bodies of African-Americans who had 
been lynched and were still hanging from the trees.

I'm not sure we Americans still can make a claim to having totally 
civilized legal system.  We have had great difficulty seeing the barbarity 
of executing children or persons with severe learning disabilities, let 
alone incongruity of our celebration of "right to life" while still 
extinguishing life in the name of the state, something our European 
cousins appear to have figured out awhile back.

I attended a law forum awhile back that included Supreme Court Justice 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Yoo (the person who thinks torture if done by 
Americans is not in violation of the Geneva conventions).  The discussion 
was on the concept of _jus cogens_, which Black's Dictionary defines as:

    "A mandatory norm of general international law from which no two
     or more nations may exempt themselves or release one another."

In layperson's terms, a concept that would compel us to take into account 
an international legal norm such as abandoning the death penalty.

Not surprisingly, the conservatives were adamant that the U.S. should 
not be influenced by anything other countries say or do.

How does this relate to Buddhism?  I realize that I'm one of those 
knee-jerk, bleeding-heart liberal, vegetarian former flower children 
Buddhists that have been referred to with some disdain in the past on 
Buddha-l.  But I will hold to my image of the Buddha as a man who would 
not have been enthusiastic about watching someone be lynched, especially 
for the crime of having a different skin color and whistling at a woman 
with paler skin.

                    	Have a safe and joyful day,

 			donna Bair-Mundy, Ph.D.
 			Instructor, LIS Program
 			Information & Computer Sci. Dept.
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 			<donnab at hawaii.edu>

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