I think I've heard it all now.

As we're trying to figure out the best way to execute one of his co-conspirators, one South Dakota State Penitentiary inmate is hoping the administration will let him exchange his cardboard sword for a plastic one as he worships the Norse god Odin... as related in this Associated Press story in the Rapid City Journal:

An inmate serving life in prison for a torture murder that sent two co-defendants to death row wants a federal judge to approve a toy sword and other items and privileges for the practice of an ancient European religion.

Darrell Hoadley of Lead, who was convicted of murder for his part in the 2000 slaying of Chester Allan Poage near Spearfish, filed the handwritten complaint in U.S. District Court. He lists himself in court documents as counsel elder of the Asatru religious group.

And...

In the administrative comments section of some of the requests, prison officials cite a legal settlement on the Asatru religion and another case that’s pending as reasons for why some things are allowed and others are not.

Hoadley said members of the Asatru religious group would make or buy the items themselves or ask for donations. Several times in the court documents, he acknowledged security and safety issues.

A passage from Hoadley’s handwritten document states: “Obviously, no sane person (would) request a real sword in the penitentiary. Therefor I am requesting to be allowed to purchase a small (no more than 2 feet) plastic or costume sword to be kept in the asatru locker. A cardboard sword is approved but it gets wet or bent or miraculously disappears from the Asatru locker and has to be replaced.”

And..

Some followers of Asatru, which often is referred to as Odinism, say the religion is misunderstood and that the most adherent inmates do not use it to further violent agendas. Religious leaders and prison experts have said they believe its roots in Viking mythology attract prisoners seeking power, protection and unity.
Read it all here and shake your head in disbelief. I know I am. Why do I somehow categorize this as something inmates are doing to mess with the Warden? Check out what USA today has to say about it:

Asatru has been gaining popularity among inmates, say religious leaders and prison experts who believe its roots in Viking mythology attract prisoners seeking power, protection and unity.

The gang culture in prison also contributes, said theologian Britt Minshall, a former police officer and Baltimore pastor who ministers to inmates. Some white inmates who felt threatened by black prison gangs formed their own gangs and sought out a belief system they felt would provide additional security, he said.

And...

Asatru is often referred to as Odinism, although some followers believe the two are separate religions. It is a polytheistic, pre-Christian faith native to Scandinavia whose adherents worship gods including Thor and Odin.

And...

No national statistics are kept on how many inmates follow Asatru. But experts say its popularity enjoyed a boost from the Supreme Court, which last year sided with an Asatru inmate by upholding a federal law requiring state prisons to accommodate prisoners' religious affiliations.

Asatru is often associated with white supremacy, although most Asatru leaders bristle at suggestions of such a relationship.

A 1999 FBI report on domestic terrorism described Odinism as a "white supremacist ideology that lends itself to violence."

So, if an inmate tells you their God is Thor, you probably don't want to tell them that if they stop picking at it, it will heal.

Me? I'll just watch and see what the courts have to say about this kind of goofyness.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The RCJ Rapid Reply pretty much beat this to death, but, simply put, this whole thing is pure crap. I liked what one of the commenters said...ship him off to Gitmo where he can practice whatever religion he wants. I resent that SD taxpayers are footing the bill to respond to this baloney.
Anonymous said…
"Whatsoever you do unto the least of my bretheren, you do unto Me." -- JC
Anonymous said…
I do think this religion is just bizarre - but the flip side is this: If we give Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Native Americans whatever implements they need to practice their religions, who are we to not to the same for this religion? A plastic sword won't hurt anyone (or that's what I used to tell my brother).
...tired of footing the bill... said…
Give him the sword. In fact, give him a REAL sword and put him in Solitary Confinement. Maybe he'll throw himself on it and save us all a whole lot of money.
Irenesson said…
All spoken as true bigoted christians, eh? Your condescending dismissal of Asatru just illustrates your rampant auto-racism.
tired of footing the bill said…
Irenesson:

Get off your liberal high horse and quit jumping to conclusions.

I am a minority, and this has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with choices. This guy had choices, just like the rest of us. And he ended up making some very, very poor ones. And now he's paying the price, just as I would expect to if I did what he did.

I realize that we'd all like to think that equal rights for all is a possibility in this country. But the sad fact is, it simply is not. It follows then that if somebody is going to get shorted in that department, perhaps it needs to be those who, while offered the same choices as everyone else, chose to murder, rape, or otherwise reek havoc in society.

Did you read what these guys did to their victim? He was tricked into trusting them, only to be tortured and forced to listen to them discuss how he would be murdered. The medical examiner said that in the end, his ears were literally kicked off of his head. How nice.

I happen to work in a non-profit agency which provides, among other things, services to victims of crime. On a daily basis I see victims RE-VICTIMIZED by a system that is bent on ensuring that the rights of the perpetrator come first. I'm all for innocent until proven guilty and for everyone getting a fair trial, but I think that concept has gone a little too far.

I think it's absolutely ludicrous that the taxpayers have to foot the bill for frivolous lawsuits brought about by inmates who have not much else to do but dream up ways to jerk around the system and waste money. If you'd like to pay for inmate's lawsuits over cardboard swords, chunky peanut butter, and the right to have pornography (all real cases brought by inmates) you go right ahead. I'd rather my money go toward education, health care, or victim assistance.

I'm also all for forgiveness, but there are some things that frankly go beyond my pool of compassion. If you want to forgive this guy for what he did, go for it. As for me, I think that in the end it will be God's call. (And I do believe that if he's truly repentent he will be forgiven by God.)

I also find it offensive that you're attempting to turn this into a racial issue. I've never seen a photo of this guy and I have no idea his ethnic or racial background. My opinion is based on his actions, not his race.

As I mentioned, I am a minority and I was raised in a home that could be defined as "disadvantaged": I was abandoned by one parent and raised by the other, who had some emotional problems and could be rather heavy-handed in the discipline department. We lived well under the poverty level and I ended up putting myself through college and Graduate School, as many people do these days. And my story is in no way unique, and not nearly as tragic as many I've heard in the course of my career.
Yet I and many others who could be defined as "disadvantaged" CHOOSE to overcome the obstacles and become productive, law-abiding members of society.

Again, it's all about CHOICES. If you want to enjoy all the freedom and rights of the average citizen, DON'T MAKE CHOICES THAT LAND YOU IN THE PENNITENTIARY!

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