Acton Institute Powerblog

9/11 Made Me Do It

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Jason Battista, 28, is citing stress from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a bid for less prison time, the second time the argument has been used by a bank robber. Battista is expected to be sentenced for robbing 15 banks in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. He was "impacted deeply" by the terror attacks, said his attorney, Stephen Seeger. "He was unable to function properly because of what he saw," Seeger said. "The drug use seemed to spiral out of control after 9-11. He wasn’t the same individual." Last year Pamela Kaichen, known as the "Blond Bandit," received a reduced sentence after arguing she had a mental condition that developed from volunteering at ground zero in New York following the attacks. "It’s clear this defendant was acting under significant mental disabilities triggered by her horrendous experience at ground zero," U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns said at the time.

In our culture of blame it seems that nothing is one’s own fault. If one adopts the "unconstrained vision" of the human person described by Thomas Sowell, one would conclude that since the human person is basically good at the core the only viable explanation for Battista’s and Kaichen’s behavior is that fact that some outside influence operated against their "good nature" to cause them to rob banks.

However, the "constrained vision," which operates under the assumption the people have inherent moral limitations and do bad things, would throw the 9/11 argument out of court because it is irrelevant. Battista and Kaichen, as stressed as they may have been, still had a choice. And what they did choose, says a biblical anthropology, was to embrace sin. Judge Burns, that is not 9/11’s fault.

Anthony Bradley Anthony Bradley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics in the Public Service Program at The King's College in New York City and serves as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His books include: Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America (2010),  Black and Tired: Essays on Race, Politics, Culture, and International Development (2011),  The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone of the Black Experience (2012), Keep Your Head Up: America's New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation (2012), Aliens in the Promised Land:  Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions (forthcoming, 2013). Dr. Bradley's writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. Dr. Bradley is called upon by members of the broadcast media for comment on current issues and has appeared C-SPAN, NPR, CNN/Headline News, and Fox News, among others. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern slavery. From 2005-2009, Dr. Bradley was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO where he also directed the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute.   Dr. Bradley holds Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.  Dr. Bradley also holds an M.A. in Ethics and Society at Fordham University.

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