A Prophet from God

Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Featured, Thoughts | 5 comments

The human race is capable of some truly sickening things, and it seems to be particularly shocking when the person or people claim to be guided by an “all loving God” when the do these things. Well this story has a peculiar twist.

It goes like this. A man named Daniel Hall sexually molested his 6 month old daughter, while his wife took photos, and they were both subsequently arrested after he was found in possession of child pornography (the result of a tip-off from a third party).

He is facing first-degree criminal sexual assault and child pornography charges, which could mean a maximum penalty of life in prison. A forensic examiner found him mentally competent to stand trial. Most people will immediately label this man and his wife “monsters” for perpetuating this kind of terrible crime upon their own infant child.

None of us doubt that a man who not only sexualises a child of 6 months, but who is also his own daughter, is mentally ill and should be treated as such. But when he appeared at the court to determine his mental capacity to serve trial, he suddenly claimed to be “a prophet of God”, and claims his time in jail is for divine purposes. The video accompanying the story shows him saying his name is Balthazar, although he pronounced it “Balthashazar”. It’s an unconvincing act, he can’t even pronounce his own supposed name. (In case you were wondering, Balthazar the name of one of the 3 wise men in the “birth of Jesus” story.)

Isn’t it interesting that Hall is suddenly claiming to be a “prophet of God” in the vain hopes of being found mentally incompetent to serve trial? I mean to look at the guy, I’d say he’s a few chromosomes short of a full picnic, but is it an obvious attempt at convincing the court he has a religious delusion, or is it something more telling than it may seem on the surface? Could it be that people relate religiousness and mental illness to be similar?

It is possible that this man, after coming to terms with how horrible his crimes are, has had a “revelation” of sorts stemming from a deep seated guilt and self loathing. Sure I guess it’s possible, but even more possible is that he’s a psychopathic pedophile with a penchant for small children, and that he sees the “insanity defence” as the only way out of serving a life sentence in prison.

In situations like this, where a crime is so horrific that it’s beyond our comprehension, we often hear that the offender “must have been abused as a child”. Sam Harris brings up this idea in his book “Free Will”, where he posits that no matter who we are we are at the whim of our genes, our chromosomes, and the factors leading up to the present including our upbringing and environmental factors all beyond our control. Could we change our mind about this man, if we found he had been repeatedly raped by his own father from a similar age as his own daughter? Or suppose we find that Hall has a massive brain tumour in his pre-frontal cortex which could be the explanation for his psychopathic behaviour? Given this, isn’t it possible to not blame him for his actions? After all he is a victim of circumstance or ill health right?

Add to this, if in fact he were compelled by God to do these terrible things to this poor child, he would equally be at the whim of circumstance, being a puppet for the supreme being. The justification for this could be “God’s plan” or his “mysterious ways”.

Either way, something brought him to this place, but does that mean he is not to blame? Of course he and his wife are guilty of inflicting this atrocity against their daughter, unless God himself did it. Unfortunately for us, the only way to deal with a “monster” like this is to lock them away, not with the hopes of rehabilitating them, but to prevent them from doing the same to others. As you can see, I am opposed to the death penalty, I see it as too final for any person, and the whole “eye for an eye” attitude makes me a little queasy.

How do we deal with such cases? Does it matter if the man has been abused, is mentally ill, has a brain tumour, or is “guided by God”? The outcome is the same in any case, and I think the only thing we can do is keep him and his wife in a place away from any possibility of doing further harm.

“Free Will” by Sam Harris is available from my bookstore.

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  1. Martin–you raise an interesting question.  I would think that for most adults evidence of mental instability would be documented somewhere.  They would have had problems in school when younger, perhaps at work as an adult, etc.  I find it hard to believe that this person suddenly has a “mental illness” after being arrested.
    Either way, mentally ill or not, it is not safe to allow such a person freedom to roam society.  To me, it becomes a matter of where he goes–jail or an institution.  Either way it should be for life in my opinion. 

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  2. Unless there is an organic disease (such as a tumor or lesion) this man and his wife are not fit to be among civilized people, let alone helpless children.    I agree that his sudden “Prophet of God” act is a bit too convenient to be believable, but he’s probably seen how well it’s worked for the Catholic Church and figures he’s got nothing to lose.   And even if ‘he’ has an organic or chemical brain issue, wtf is up with the wife watching and taking pictures?  Most, not all but most, Mothers would kill to protect their children, not actively participate in their torture.
    As for his possible past abuse that, for me, is a non-starter.   I may  feel sympathy towards him for what was done to him, but that in no way, shape or form  translates into allowing him to perpetuate the cycle.   He’s an adult now, he has a choice and he obviously knew it was wrong or he wouldn’t be playing these games now.  And it is all too easy to ‘claim’ to have been abused once your own bad actions come to light, but I would want to see some sort of third party verification regarding this.  (school teacher, parent, doctor…any sort of documentation regarding evidence or suspicion at the time of the Father’s supposed abuse as opposed to a convenient ‘recalled’ memory by the defendant)

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  3. “I’d say he’s a few chromosomes short of a full picnic.”
    I’d say that you, Mr. Pribble, are now a *serious* contender for the “mixed metaphor of the year” award!

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    •  @markjoseph125 Hehehe, yeah well I kinda like it :)

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  4. I’ve listened to lots of stories and even in extreme cases I have been able to get someone’s perspective somehow, tried to walk in their shoes in order to understand what they have done. Except I have never been able to do that for child sexual abusers.
    Why does this stuff happen?  I have given up trying to understand because I think it might just be dangerous to really get inside their heads??? It certainly wouldn’t be pleasant and my heart goes out to people who have to deal with or live through these cases.

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