Cultural Justice

I’ll start with a disclaimer: when you discover the subject of this post, you’re intial reaction will be to stop reading. Please don’t. It’s not nearly as trite as it sounds.

I’m addicted to police reality shows. Karen constantly groans in disdain at how often I have Cops, or a similar program, on the television screen as I sit somewhat comatose on the sofa. Everyone deserves one vice, and this is mine. Mediocre sensationalist entertainment? Perhaps. But I can’t help it. It’s just cool.

About a year ago, before we were married and I could watch them whenever I wanted, I was channel surfing in search of just such a program when I paused on a show I really never thought I would be into: Dog the Bounty Hunter. I kept wanting to flip the channel, but I couldn’t. I was hooked. A few weeks later, I found it again. That was all it took. Then I was paying attention to when new episodes were scheduled to air. It had officially become one of my favorite forms of escapism.

Go ahead…laugh…

Done? Okay, now let me tell you why I’m relating this.

Duane Chapman, aka “The Dog,” is a fugitive recovery agent that became popular (some would say infamous) in 2003 when he pursued Andrew Luster, the heir of the Max Factor fortune, into Mexico after Mr. Luster fled there while facing charges for three alleged sexual assaults. The Dog found Luster, arrested him, and brought him back to the U.S., where he was subsequently tried and convicted. Luster is now serving quite a prison term.

The Dog was also arrested in Mexico for illegally detaining Luster. The business of bounty hunting, apparently, is illegal down there. He was eventually released back to the U.S.

Well, as so frequently happens, television rights were sold, and A&E developed the television show that follows Dog and his crew (all family members) as they apprehend fugitives from justice. His personality is engaging (perhaps in a voyeuristic way), and there’s the adrenaline rush that comes when they charge through the door and take the fugitive to the ground. Guys love that stuff. Watch an episode, though, and you discover that this isn’t just a business for the Dog. It’s a ministry. He makes every effort to turn the lives of these fugitives around. He prays for them. He prays with them. Frequently, he posts bond for them immediately after their apprehension so that they have an opportunity to turn their lives around again. Dog came from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks, and desires to see the life change that he experienced happen in others. His faith is unmistakeable, because his mercy and forgiveness demonstrate it.

You may have heard, though, that in September of 2006, Dog, his brother, and his son were arrested by U.S. Marshals because Mexico decided (Three years later? Sounds sketchy to me) that Dog should be extradited to face trial on charges of illegally detaining Mr. Luster. Interviews after they had appealed and posted bond revealed the pain and terror that this brought to Dog and his family. He actually stated that, if he went to a Mexican prison, he would likely not survive.

On February 15, 2007, Mexico denied Dog’s injuction request. They want him there to stand trial. For capturing a rapist.

I bet that, if you asked the three victims of sexual assault, they would call Dog a hero. I think anyone who prizes justice should call him a hero. God wants us to prize justice. Scripture says He prizes justice. Justice is what the Dog delivered. Perhaps outside technical legal boundaries. But he went when no one else would, so that a man who would later be convicted of violating three womens’ purity in the worst way would pay for his crimes.

Surely, America will stand behind him on this. Surely, we will not permit his extradition. His citizenship must count for something. His courage must count for something. His enforcement of the law must count for something.

So, if you pray, please do so for the Duane Chapman. It will feel odd at first, like you’re praying for a movie character. So use his real name. Because this is a real person, a real crisis, a real injustice.

After all, truth…and faith…must count for something.

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