Thursday, August 13, 2009
Arizona Man Prosecuted For Saving Lives
Buried deep in today's New York Times is the story of Walt Staton who was found guilty of littering and sentenced to 300 hours of trash pickup in Arizona. Federal prosecutors had pushed for a $5,000 fine and he could also have received a year in jail so I guess you could say he got off lightly.
Even so, 300 hours of trash pick up seems a little harsh for a littering charge but this was no ordinary trash. Staton belongs to No More Deaths, an organization committed to saving the lives of migrants attempting to cross the harsh Arizona desert into the US. Volunteers place water jugs along the commonly used routes where well over 100 migrant men, women and children have recently died.
Federal Fish and Game officials oppose the water drops on grounds of littering however, it seems that the prosecutions are more political than environmental. Staton's attorney Bill Walker claims as much "we're appealing because we don't think that Walt committed any crime by putting out fresh, clean jugs of pure water to save human lives on the refuge." Conservatives such as Debbie Schlussel have also used the situation to spit bile on organizations such as Staton's and illegal immigrants in general. And these are the same pundits accusing the proposed health plan of setting up "death panels?"
At what point do we, as a purportedly Christian country, put aside the political differences and realize these are the lives of fellow human beings we are discussing? What would Jesus do? Actually He did have something pretty specific to say on the subject:
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in" (Mathew 25:35)