My Shameful Lack of Empathy

 

This post is about me. I am empathy-deficient. What should be a touching story leaves me feeling nothing but contempt: a United States Senator empathizing with a federal inmate serving two consecutive life sentences who wanted to father a child. Through this empathetic Senator’s efforts, the inmate has successfully impregnated his wife.

I do not feel empathy for a jailed criminal who thinks he is entitled to be a father. Conjugal visits are prohibited at the federal level, so I see no need to employ a workaround (artificial insemination) to circumvent a natural consequence of the rules, particularly for such a contemptuous character. The empathetic senator suffers no such pedant reasoning.

Nor do I feel empathy for the mother, who was “desperate to have a child.” The mother is not American and doesn’t even live in America. But my range of emotional outreach is stunted, in comparison to a U.S. Senator with a global constituency: “Senator Leahy and Marcelle Leahy are parents and grandparents, and they sympathized with her on a human level and they wanted to help her, and they did it for her.”

Not only were Senator Leahy’s efforts fruitful, but they have proven that empathy (which I seem to lack in sufficient quantity) leads to wonderful outcomes, as evidenced by the mother’s reaction: “The feeling now, in a word? Delirious. I’m not even going to say love. Delirious is what defines it better.”

The fact that a senator would use his considerable influence to enable a foreign jailed criminal to have his wife artificially inseminated is even more disturbing when one considers a few further details. This man, the beneficiary of Senator Leahy’s empathy, is a Cuban intelligence officer and a national hero of Castro’s government for his efforts to commit espionage and murder as leader of the so-called “Cuban Five.”

Comrade Gerardo Hernandez, released by President Obama and reunited with his wife in Cuba, was photographed rubbing the belly of his “delirious” wife—the wife of a national hero and soon to be the mother of a future national hero whose birth can be partially attributed to the empathy of a Senator from Vermont.

But I just don’t feel it.

AP_adriana_perez_jef_141222_16x9_992

Please forgive me for writing such a self-centered post. I can only aspire to someday feel the senator’s kind of empathy.

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  1. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    We have entered Bizarro world — everything is upside down. Get used to it.

    • #1
  2. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Poor guy had only two wishes in life. One was to become a father and the other was to slaughter Americans who oppose the Castro regime. I am sure Leahy regrets that he could only help fulfill one of those dreams.

    • #2
  3. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    From the linked article:

    Rieser [a Leahy foreign policy aide] lobbied for Perez [the wife] to receive a U.S. visa and she was able to visit Hernandez twice in the last year and a half, after apparently only being allowed to see him once before. Rieser also helped another member of the “Cuban Five,” island agents who were serving long prison terms in the United States, access to medicine he needed. He said there was no quid pro quo, however.

    <That U.S. officials facilitated Perez’s pregnancy made a big impression on Cuban officials>*, for whom the agents’ return was one of the country’s most important international policy goals.

    This explains the philosophy behind U.S. foreign policy under Obama. By opening relations with Cuba we can show that America is kind and caring. It’s not about trading prisoners. It’s simply a matter of being nice to them and bringing out their inner goodness.

    Heck, even Cuban officials are melting after this compassionate gesture. If we continue such generosity they will like us, and become a model socialist state (you know, like the one we aspire to become).

    *This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

    • #3
  4. user_130720 Member
    user_130720
    @

    Vance Richards: I am sure Leahy regrets that he could only help fulfill one of those dreams.

    Who says only one dream? The guy’s young. And now he has progeny to carry on the family biz. Yea Leahy.

    • #4
  5. user_130720 Member
    user_130720
    @

    I need to find euphemisms or symbols or abbreviations that would get by CofC.

    The need has arisen waaaay before this OP, but you gotta start somewhere. So…

    Does Adam Henry work as a CofC compliant nickname for Leahy? Jus’ sayin’….

    • #5
  6. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Thought this was gonna be about Joren. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/imprisoned-dutch-killer-joran-van-der-sloot-now-a-father/

    Could one of the ladies here clue me in on what her thinking was here ?

    • #6
  7. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    well, do not confuse empathy with sympathy.  You’re obviously being sarcastic, but I think there is a real point about how damaging misguided good-intentions can be.  I can empathize with the cuban national, but I don’t sympathize, nor would I take any steps to have him released.  He knew what he was getting into.  Senators all to often fail to realize that you can be empathetic while still upholding the rule of law.  Heck, you can even be sympathetic and still recognize reality.  Take a really easy (and unimportant) example.  At a sporting event, it’s pretty easy to empathize with the other side.  They want what you want, for many of the same reasons.  The consequences are the same on both sides.  But you don’t give up the game just because you empathize with the other side.

    • #7
  8. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Ryan M:well, do not confuse empathy with sympathy. You’re obviously being sarcastic, but I think there is a real point about how damaging misguided good-intentions can be. I can empathize with the cuban national, but I don’t sympathize, nor would I take any steps to have him released. He knew what he was getting into. Senators all to often fail to realize that you can be empathetic while still upholding the rule of law. Heck, you can even be sympathetic and still recognize reality. Take a really easy (and unimportant) example. At a sporting event, it’s pretty easy to empathize with the other side. They want what you want, for many of the same reasons. The consequences are the same on both sides. But you don’t give up the game just because you empathize with the other side.

    I get the distinction you’re making. I, too, can empathize with Cardinals fans after the distress the Seahawks imposed on them last Sunday (I have suffered similar distress four times this season, although probably to a lesser degree). That is possible because we share common ambitions (re the game) and are similar, as humans,  in most important respects. I can empathize with the common Cuban citizen because I can at least conceptualize (to some faint degree) poverty and political suppression of a people that are similar, as humans, in most important respects.

    But no, an active agent of the organization that impoverishes and suppresses them is difficult for me to appreciate as a fellow human possessing normal humanity. That person is an anomaly to me. I do not understand how such a person lives with himself. For these reason, the most I could possibly muster is an imaginary empathy. Like I said in the OP, I just don’t feel it.

    • #8
  9. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    No, Ryan, I think rico is saying that he can’t seem to even muster empathy. He’s even further from the sympathy idea. I think he’s using it correctly.

    • #9
  10. user_615140 Inactive
    user_615140
    @StephenHall

    How is it possible that a person who boasts about his service to an enemy of the United States and a willing minion of a tyranny can be elected to the U.S. Senate? What sort of people would choose him as their representative? This is the most unsettling post I have seen on Ricochet in a very long time.

    Just yesterday a leading politician in Australia (leader of the Labor Party opposition in a State parliament) resigned because several years ago he had written a letter of support in a child custody case for one of his constituents. That constituent was Man Haron Monis, the Islamo-fascist who caused the recent coffee-shop siege in Sydney which resulted in the deaths of two citizens. Politically, the opposition leader’s position was untenable even though he could not have guessed what Monis would do in the future when he wrote the letter.

    Maybe he should move to Vermont and be carried on the people’s shoulders into some public office there.

    • #10
  11. george.tobin@yahoo.com Moderator
    george.tobin@yahoo.com
    @OldBathos

    Of all the people and issues in Vermont and America as a whole, why would a senior U.S. Senator act to help a Cuban Commie thug make a family? Leahy is not generally known for his pro-life, pro-natalist leanings.

    I thought when Chris Dodd died and John Kerry left the Senate so as to harm US foreign policy interests more directly, that would be the end of the old Senate Danny Ortega Fan Club crowd that was compelled to support every red in Latin America. Apparently, Leahy is carrying on that assinine tradition.

    • #11
  12. user_48342 Member
    user_48342
    @JosephEagar

    The first thought that popped into my head on reading this was that this guy has the moral right to impregnate his wife due to the Christian doctrine of forgiveness.  On further reflection I’m not so sure, though.

    It seems intriguing: does forgiveness compel us to allow this guy to start a family, even as he is incarcerated as an enemy of the state?  I don’t know the theological details, but it sounds like an interesting question.  I’m not sure I have a strong opinion either way (like I said, that was just the first thought that popped into my head).

    • #12
  13. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Coolidge
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    Larry Koler:We have entered Bizarro world — everything is upside down. Get used to it.

    You’re right.  That’s how I’ve felt ever since Obama got elected.  I hate to be so overtly political, but the left are the ruin of this country.  And culture.

    • #13
  14. user_129448 Inactive
    user_129448
    @StephenDawson

    I’m always puzzled about this special power that US Senators seem to have. (The political villains in quite a few US movies seem to be Senators who somehow have control of executive resources, including some with fire power.)

    Why do the executive branches even listen to them? Is the straying of the legislature into executive function the flip side of the executive de facto legislating?

    • #14
  15. liberal jim Inactive
    liberal jim
    @liberaljim

    Joseph Eagar:The first thought that popped into my head on reading this was that this guy has the moral right to impregnate his wife due to the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. On further reflection I’m not so sure, though.

    It seems intriguing: does forgiveness compel us to allow this guy to start a family, even as he is incarcerated as an enemy of the state? I don’t know the theological details, but it sounds like an interesting question. I’m not sure I have a strong opinion either way (like I said, that was just the first thought that popped into my head).

    ” Christian doctrine of forgiveness” – who, may I ask elected  you God?  Perhaps one might argue the immediate family of the people he slaughtered might be in the position to forgive the wrong that was done to them, but I doubt you or the egotistical senator qualify.

    • #15
  16. EstoniaKat Inactive
    EstoniaKat
    @ScottAbel

    The Baltic States have conjugal visits for prisoners. It is a tradition in those countries, that dates back to the 19th century (and still remained during the Soviet occupation) when they were part of the Czarist empire. The country was so big that it would sometimes take weeks for family members to meet the convicted in prison, or in exile, so I’m told the practice sprung from that.

    I once got to visit a prison outside of Tartu, Estonia, a few years back with a group of academics. There is a small apartment on the prison grounds, where prisoners get to be alone with their significant for a few days a year. Essentially they put the couple in the apartment and lock the door on them. The length of time they get is based on their sentence, and their good behavior while serving their term. So you have to earn the privilege.

    I found it a rather shocking idea when I first found out about it, but I fully support it now. The number of rapes in prison is very low, as a consequence (I find it completely distasteful, and barbaric, that prison rape is a joking matter in American society). For the overwhelming number of prisoners who are not serving life sentences, the conjugal visits and familial relations (and the occasional kid) give them tangible incentives. That is, if you believe that prison sentences should be about rehabilitation, and not simply punishment.

    • #16
  17. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Scott Abel:……… (I find it completely distasteful, and barbaric, that prison rape is a joking matter in American society). ….

    Fully agreed on this. We may not have an obligation to enable a prisoner to impregnate his wife or even to merely relieve his stress, but I think we are certainly obligated to ensure a prisoner’s safe keeping. Prison rape and other prison violence is an affront to the system and to decency. That it’s all a punchline is just discouraging.

    • #17
  18. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Joseph Eagar:The first thought that popped into my head on reading this was that this guy has the moral right to impregnate his wife due to the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. On further reflection I’m not so sure, though.

    It seems intriguing: does forgiveness compel us to allow this guy to start a family, even as he is incarcerated as an enemy of the state? I don’t know the theological details, but it sounds like an interesting question. I’m not sure I have a strong opinion either way (like I said, that was just the first thought that popped into my head).

    I’m not an authority on this either, but it seems to me that forgiveness is something that occurs in the heart of the individual. Imprisonment is something imposed by a larger community.

    What we are now witnessing is the result of a self-aggrandizing career politician assigning to himself the authority to covertly act on behalf of the community to impose his own personal forgiveness.

    • #18
  19. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    rico:

    Joseph Eagar:The first thought that popped into my head on reading this was that this guy has the moral right to impregnate his wife due to the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. On further reflection I’m not so sure, though.

    It seems intriguing: does forgiveness compel us to allow this guy to start a family, even as he is incarcerated as an enemy of the state? I don’t know the theological details, but it sounds like an interesting question. I’m not sure I have a strong opinion either way (like I said, that was just the first thought that popped into my head).

    I’m not an authority on this either, but it seems to me that forgiveness is something that occurs in the heart of the individual. Imprisonment is something imposed by a larger community.

    What we are now witnessing is the result of a self-aggrandizing career politician assigning to himself the authority to covertly act on behalf of the community to impose his own personal forgiveness.

    Leahy is doing a solid for his brothers on the left. Fidel is viewed as a great man to Leahy and spying against America is completely OK. He probably hopes to meet him and shake his and Raul’s hands. (Or has he already had that incredible privilege?)

    • #19
  20. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    I have a hard time getting outraged about this.  My view is that conjugal visits have more benefits to keeping order in prisons than not and wonder why they haven’t caught on more in the U.S.

    This issue isn’t about conjugal visits, but an exception being made for a federal prisoner who is a very bad actor, and as someone else mentioned, it’s a little bizarre.

    But on a scale of 1 to 10 on an abuse of power by a U.S. Senator, I see very little harm.  I’m more concerned about how they govern in general as opposed to individual incidents like this.  They govern horribly.

    rico:

    Nor do I feel empathy for the mother, who was “desperate to have a child.” The mother is not American and doesn’t even live in America. But my range of emotional outreach is stunted, in comparison to a U.S. Senator with a global constituency: “Senator Leahy and Marcelle Leahy are parents and grandparents, and they sympathized with her on a human level and they wanted to help her, and they did it for her.”

    She’s not a prisoner and legally speaking she’s an innocent, in the sense that she’s not been convicted of a crime (that I know of).

    My having empathy is too strong a word for her desire to have a child by her husband, but I am willing to give her, and women like her, some slack.  Without getting into her story in particular, I do have some admiration for women who take their wedding vows seriously enough to remain married to a husband who has gone bad and serving time.

    Let her have a child by her husband.

    • #20
  21. user_615140 Inactive
    user_615140
    @StephenHall

    Do a majority of Vermont voters support the Cuban regime? Alternatively, are they sweet with foreign communist spies operating in the United States?

    • #21
  22. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    We’re paying aging and hapless Senators to help spies impregnate their wives while they’re in jail in the US.

    We’re not paying them to pass budgets.  Or tackle unfunded liabilities that are in the tens of trillions.  Nope.  We’re paying them so Castro regime supporters can have children.

    Next we’ll be sending barbershop grants to North Korea so Kim-Jong Un can ditch that hideous hairstyle.  Then, we will all be allotted a 2-minute Laud whereby we can, and are expected to, praise our doughy bettors as they go about their daily duties inherent in running the patriarchy.

    We would do well to get ahead of the lauding curve here, so we, too, can one day participate in the statist paradise at levels the tax-generating plebes can only dream about.

    • #22
  23. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Stephen Hall:Do a majority of Vermont voters support the Cuban regime? Alternatively, are they sweet with foreign communist spies operating in the United States?

    Not outside of the Burlington area, we don’t.  Blame the state’s “progressivism” on Burlington having 4 colleges in town and a bunch of aging hipsters on the city council.  For decades.

    Oh, wait.  It’s 3 colleges now.  Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane managed to drive Burlington College straight into the financial ditch and is likely to close.  Shocking that you put a socialist’s wife in charge of an organization and it utterly collapses due to her actions, but she bails out (complete with a semi-golden-parachute) so she’s not in the job anymore when the walls come down.

    But I digress.  Go Leahy!

    • #23
  24. user_358258 Member
    user_358258
    @RandyWebster

    Did I misread the article?  I thought it said it was in vitro fertilization, an extremely expensive proposition from what I hear.  Who paid for it (as if I need to ask)?

    • #24
  25. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Al Sparks: She’s not a prisoner and legally speaking she’s an innocent, in the sense that she’s not been convicted of a crime (that I know of).

    My having empathy is too strong a word for her desire to have a child by her husband, but I am willing to give her, and women like her, some slack. Without getting into her story in particular, I do have some admiration for women who take their wedding vows seriously enough to remain married to a husband who has gone bad and serving time.

    Let her have a child by her husband.

    With credentials like she’s not a prisoner and legally speaking she’s an innocent, in the sense that she’s not been convicted of a crime being sufficient, I guess we should start showing our empathy by providing artificial insemination for all the abandoned wives of jailed criminals.

    • #25
  26. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Chris Campion: Next we’ll be sending barbershop grants to North Korea so Kim-Jong Un can ditch that hideous hairstyle. Then, we will all be allotted a 2-minute Laud whereby we can, and are expected to, praise our doughy bettors as they go about their daily duties inherent in running the patriarchy.

    Can we get a little of that action out here in Washington? We’ve got one of our own hideously-styled doughy betters running the patriarchy.

    murray2

    • #26
  27. user_48342 Member
    user_48342
    @JosephEagar

    rico:

    I’m not an authority on this either, but it seems to me that forgiveness is something that occurs in the heart of the individual. Imprisonment is something imposed by a larger community.

    That makes sense.

    • #27
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