Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bishops Fight Death

Back when I was a decent chess player (I haven't played in years) I was accused of having "stealth bishops."  Indeed, on a chessboard, the bishop can be a sneaky little devil.  In , there is a maneuver known as the pin, in which a piece -- such as a bishop -- threatens an opponent's piece, and the opponent's piece shelters a more valuable piece.  The piece that is threatened cannot be moved to safety, because that would leave the more valuable piece in danger. 

Now, we hear that the Catholic bishops are doing exactly that:
Bishops Fight Death Penalty in New Drive

Published: March 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 21 - The country's Roman Catholic bishops on Monday announced a more prominent effort to bar the death penalty, saying they hoped to build on a continuing shift in public opinion, and among Catholics in particular, against capital punishment.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops staked out a comprehensive position against the death penalty 25 years ago. But Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., said the conference was beginning a campaign for "greater urgency and unity, increased energy and advocacy."
Not that I always agree with Catholic dogma, but, like them, I oppose the death penalty.  Of course, they have opposed the death penalty for a long time.  This raises the question, why mount a campaign now?  The article implies that the reason is that there is a "continuing shift in public opinion."  Perhaps.

What is more likely is that it is the Terri Schiavo case that provides them with an opportunity to press their cause.  The dogma of the Catholic church is at variance with that of most religious ring-wing Americans.  Among the religious Right, the tendency is to oppose the right to die, but support the death penalty.  What the bishops have done is brilliant.  By raising the issue now, the put the religious Right in a bind: if they don't give up their support for the death penalty, they expose their position on the right-to-die issue.

Perhaps that solves the mystery of Kasparov's retirement.  It's not that he wants to get involved in politics; it's that he knows he can't compete with the Catholic bishops.