Thursday, October 07, 2010

Another exorcism death, and a credulous judge

In 2007, Janet Moses died from drowning during a botched exorcism in New Zealand. The family responsible for this was tried for manslaughter and recently convicted.

Exorcisms ending in death are tragic, but sadly common enough I've created a post tag just for them. In many of these cases, the law comes down fairly hard, but in this case, the family gets little more than a slap on the wrist. According to the article, the heads of the family that led the exorcism received
six months' community detention and a daily curfew. In addition they had to do 300 hours community work and 12 months' supervision.
I've always understood the purpose of punishments to be a deterrent for future actions (as well as, frequently, compensation for damages from past ones). But this sentence is so light, it doesn't effectively serve either purpose.

In addition, the judge in his sentencing remarks, doesn't even condemn the base practice of dangerous exorcisms themselves. Instead, he recommends that before carrying them out, people seek the advice of cult practitioners, as if they're somehow any more qualified:
But what can be stated is that tohunga or kaumatua should be consulted by whanau where makutu is suspected so that the whanau receive the correct expert advice as to how to deal with a situation, as such advice will be tempered by ensuring what is to be carried out by such exorcism remains within the laws of New Zealand as set down by Parliament
So apparently, if you kill someone by consulting the proper quack, New Zealand is fine with it.

No comments: