By now you have probably heard about the young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world. Jay Austin was a vegan who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Lauren Geoghegan was a vegetarian who worked in the Georgetown University admissions office. Both were 29 years old when they decided to quit their jobs last year and make their trip.
It would be fair to say that these two young idealists lived in a bubble. They convinced themselves that evil was a “make-believe concept.” Austin wrote in his journal:
“I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige. I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed.”
A romantic notion, to say the least. We can admire his willingness to follow through on it. But his refusal to believe that there are bad people out in the world who will do bad things to people without provocation was a tragically naïve belief that cost him and Lauren Geoghegan their lives.
Their trip went on for 369 days, taking them from the southernmost tip of Africa in Capetown, South Africa, to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and finally Tajikistan, where their journey ended where they were murdered along with a cyclist from Switzerland and another from the Netherlands. Five men exited a car and stabbed all four of them to death. ISIS claimed responsibility in print and then followed up with a video showing the five attackers pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
We can say the same thing about the Jihadi training camp in New Mexico where children were being trained to carry out school shootings. Disturbing details are still emerging from this news story. The children in the compound were armed and ready to engage law enforcement until one of the adults told them to stand down. A deceased 3-year-old disabled boy found at the compound died from being denied his medication and lost his life during an Islamic prayer session to expel the demons they believed were inside him. One of the children said they believed the deceased boy would resurrect in about four months and inform the compound residents of their specific targets. He mentioned law enforcement personnel, educational institutions, financial institutions and banks as potential targets.
As shocking as it was for some to discover that a camp like this was operating in the United States, (it was no surprise at all for others that have been warning of such compounds for years), as shocking as the many details that continue to surface about the people who were involved and what they were doing there, nothing could have prepared us for what happened when the people running this compound stood in front of Judge Sarah Backus. Judge Backus released four of the five adults to house arrest and on a $20,000 “signature bond,” which means they just sign a document promising to return to court when it is time for trial. If they do not show up to court, then they will face arrest and be required to pay $20,000 as a penalty. Judge Backus also ruled they must reside in “acceptable” living conditions, wear ankle monitors, cannot have firearms, cannot leave the country and can only see their children during supervised visits.
How did the judge come up with this ruling? Well, the defense attorney for the arrested extremists claimed they were the victims of discrimination because they are Muslims and black. They argued that there was no strong evidence of a specific terrorist plot, only aspirations. And the judge agreed that not having a specific plan somehow makes them less dangerous. Backus also pointed out that four of the five had no criminal record (the fifth was a fugitive with an outstanding warrant in Georgia). The guns at the compound were acquired legally, and even though the children were prepared to, they did not resist law enforcement. (I would argue at this point that none of that accounts for the child abuse and the death of the three-year-old, but that’s just me.)
Judge Sarah Backus is a San Francisco transplant to New Mexico. She has a history of issuing low bail to violent offenders. This has led many to speculate that she was motivated more by a social justice activist mindset than from upholding her oath to render justice and protect the public. Given the evidence that the defense presented and the testimony of law enforcement at the hearing, one could be forgiven for thinking that she was indeed acting as a Social Justice Warrior rather than an officer of the court. It certainly appears that for Judge Backus the rules of Political Correctness trumped the law.
Yes, there is evil in the world. There are people prepared to carry out acts of evil. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan didn’t deserve to be murdered. Members of ISIS committed this act of evil and then bragged about it. The people living at the compound in New Mexico shared a belief that many ISIS members would call an “extremist cult.” Those people are now (house arrest or not) out of custody, and free to commit an act of violence should their “true target” be revealed with little chance of stopping it until it’s too late. It leaves us pondering; which is eviler, the attacks the jihadist in New Mexico were training to carry out, or the release of clearly dangerous people in the name of Political Correctness? Let’s just pray that no innocent person pays the price for this judge’s lapse in judgment.