I like to call it the, “You’re a dumbass and how are you still breathing?” defense
Unless, of course, you’re in a jurisdiction where plenty of people believe in voodoo (Joe appears to believe it, why should he be the only one), in which case Joe might have a problem. This applies for other topics as well. This illustrates another problem: look at how many things have since been disproven.
It seems that the only real difference between this page and the next is that Joe believed in something in which most people don’t believe. Consider that this isn’t much different from a scientifically-complex crime which is difficult to explain to jurors.
So what you’re getting at is you think people should be prosecuted for attempted voodoo?
Hmm. Wouldn’t this mean that satanic rituals directed toward ones enemies are criminal in conservative states?
I can’t find the title of the film to figure out exactly to what extent it was based on an actual event, but it involved a high-school aged girl who was tried for a crime (whether it was assault, attempted murder, or what, I no longer recall), because her notebooks included “spells” intended to do harm to a member of school staff, and it spooked people.
I mostly remember this because the themes of the film seemed inconsistent to me- on the one hand, it was about these foolish superstitious (read: Christian) folk who thought that something with no basis in reality should be punished as a crime. On the other, it was about how the whole thing amounted to religious persecution, a way for people to punish her for supposed anti-Christian beliefs. (The actual notes in her notebook were entirely fictional, daydreaming, not religious exploration on her part.)
It’s an interesting subject. How is this different from aiming a gun at someone and pulling the trigger, only to discover that the gun was never loaded? Or trying to poison someone with a chemical that was in fact harmless, which you mistakenly believed was deadly? As KW said, this really seems indistinguishable from the next page’s example except by that purely gut-feeling sliding scale. And frankly, for many people, this extremely unlikely correlation would be enough to make a perfectly rational person with no strong feelings about Voodoo raise an eyebrow and at least briefly question whether or not there was, in fact, causation.
And what if there was? “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is itself an incredibly subjective idea when it comes to religious matters. I’ve heard some people take the idea of “separation of church and state” to mean that it’s fundamentally wrong for voters to allow their religious beliefs to influence how they vote about particular issues or for representatives, which I’m sure we can all agree is on the extreme end, but how would you ever account for the difference in how such a case would be treated in a place where people commonly believed in the reality of voodoo, or satanic rituals, or witchcraft, etc, and in places that don’t? *Should* it be accounted for?
I’m not necessarily saying there’s a better way to approach the situation, I just find it interesting to think about.
For the record, I’m a reasonably conservative (in the theological sense- I consider myself politically independent) Christian with a Southern Baptist background.
Nice, well thought out comment. For me, the reason why there should be no guilt in this case is that it’s an essentially pure “thought crime”. In any other instance, such as attempting to poison with a harmless substance, etc., there is an attempted, real, physical act against a person. Yes, there is a voodoo doll used, but I think because this whole crime occurs in a “religious” arena – which by definition is ethereal – it simply does not have any physicality for the state to point to.
It might have been impossible for Joe’s attempt to cause harm, in this case, but who is to say he wouldn’t change his method? He may abandon the voodoo and pick up a good ol’ gun next time. So should we really dismiss his attempt? Perhaps the point is we can only stick to the specific crime at hand, and not what it implies may happen in the future?
What is most likely to me is that we are accounting for the fact that people may actually be LYING TO THEMSELVES and using the voodoo or whatever as merely a way to let out their anger. Just poking an effigy, really.