Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A lack of empathy

There was an interesting piece in the NYTimes today on Harry Whittington giving the backstory on his long ties to the Texas Republican Party.
What caught my attention was this graph describing one of Whittington’s ‘passions’ “that do not fit so squarely with his image as a Republican elder” - prison reform.

While serving on the board of the Texas Department of Corrections in the 1980's and after observing the conditions in many state prisons, he once claimed, "Prisons are to crime what greenhouses are to plants." He also led an effort to move mentally retarded inmates out of the general prison population and followed this with outspoken support of a bill to ban execution of retarded prisoners. (Although Gov. Rick Perry vetoed that bill in 2001, the United States Supreme Court later outlawed such executions.)

"A person who is born with a body that becomes an adult and a mind that remains a child needs special protection in our criminal justice system," Mr. Whittington, one of whose four daughters is retarded, wrote in a letter to The Dallas Morning News in 2001.

Is it just me, or is the only time I see conservative Republicans taking a liberal position on something like this is when it affects them personally?

Whittington, who has a daughter who is mentally retarded, is an advocate for changing the way the mentally retarded are treated in our prisons.

Dick Cheney, who has a daughter who is a lesbian, refuses to endorse Bush’s anti-gay marriage agenda. Ditto the late Barry Goldwater.

Nancy Reagan, whose late-husband suffered from Alzheimers, is an outspoken advocate for stem cell research.

And so on, and so on.

Why can’t more people have empathy for others when it does not affect them personally?

No comments:

Post a Comment