A Rose by Any Other Name…

Last month the sensitive folks on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to give a linguistic break to those deserving people long referred to as convicted felons.

What progressive names do they have for criminals?

  • Formerly incarcerated person
  • Justice-involved person
  • Returning resident

Red_rose_with_black_backgroundI’m not making this up. And I admit that a person who has been in jail and comes home to the city by the bay would, technically speaking, be a returning resident.

In a similar manner, a juvenile delinquent becomes a “young person with justice system involvement.”  A druggie becomes a “person with a history of substance use”.

I guess this is designed to produce a kinder, gentler justice system. And heaven knows, Christians believe in forgiveness and second chances. We Catholics have the sacrament of confession. We know that God can forgive any sin; we also know that we have to pay temporal penalties for our sins.

For example, if you rob a bank you can go to confession and gain God’s forgiveness. But you’ll also have to make restitution and may spend a few years in jail.

If you are a priest and you abuse a child you may receive God’s forgiveness – although Jesus had some serious comments about those who would harm a child (check out Matthew 18:6). In the meantime, you will likely go to jail and will certainly never again be trusted around children.

In my mind, once you have paid your debt to society you can be forgiven and make a new start but you still are a convicted felon. You have earned that label. And your new start may be witnessing to the forgiveness of Christ from a prison cell.

Christ was not into euphemisms. He called sinners, sinners; he called sin, sin.

The reality revisionists in San Francisco can try putting a nice name on sin but it is, as the old saw goes, just putting lipstick on a pig. The city fathers need to remember their job isn’t to make pretty pigs but to prevent pigs from harming the community.

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