Return to Transcripts main page

Paula Zahn Now

The Bible & Gays; Arrest Made in 40-Year-Old Double Murder Case

Aired January 25, 2007 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Thanks for joining us.
Across America, racism and intolerance lurk just below the surface. Every night, we are bringing you those hidden secrets out into the open.

Tonight: quoting Scripture. We're going chapter and verse on a movie that accuses anti-gay activists of misusing the Bible to justify bigotry and violence.

Also: justice delayed. After more than 42 years, there's finally an arrest in two notorious killings from the civil rights era.

And left at the curb -- some Muslim cabbies won't pick up travelers who are carrying alcohol. Are they being strictly religious or strictly intolerant?

The first story we're bringing out into the open tonight: a new movie that is bound to be controversial, because it questions the common belief that the Bible forbids homosexuality -- the film's point, that many religious leaders twist the Bible, mislead their followers, and promote fear and intolerance of gays. The documentary is getting a lot of attention this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

And our entertainment correspondent, Brooke Anderson, is there, and has just filed this report.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Biblical passages familiar to millions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 13, says, if a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall be put to death.


ANDERSON: Some believe that kind of passage can promote intolerance against homosexuals and even lead to violence against them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him.


ANDERSON: But the new Sundance film, "For the Bible Tells Me So," argues, fundamentalist Christians have misinterpreted and misused Scripture to stigmatize gays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the religious right has got it wrong about what the Bible really says about homosexuality.

ANDERSON: In the documentary, moderate religious leaders insist, some conservatives have latched on to certain verses, while conveniently ignoring others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's interesting that we never hear the fundamentals arguing for the portion of Luke that says -- has Jesus saying, if want to be a follower of mine, you must give up all your possessions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother and sisters in Christ, greet your new bishop.

ANDERSON: Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, appears in the film with his elderly parents. They are among several Christian couples in the film who believed the Bible condemned homosexuality, until they discovered their own child was gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When my kids were growing up, I said, God, please, don't let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter a slut. And he did not. He did not do that. He reversed it.

ANDERSON: David Potite (ph) and wife, Brenda (ph), preachers in Haw River, North Carolina, are still uncomfortable with homosexuality, but they stand by their lesbian daughter. And they are reexamining their stereotypical opinion of gays.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would think of the girlfriend-acting fellow, or the butch, dykey-acting woman.

JANE GEPHARDT, WIFE OF DICK GEPHARDT: He was always in shock. I mean...

DICK GEPHARDT (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: She -- we thought she was athletic and...


J. GEPHARDT: She was good, too. She was a good athlete.

GEPHARDT: She was a good athlete.


GEPHARDT: But she also wore pants more than skirts and -- and dresses.

ANDERSON: Among the other couples in the film, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and his wife, Jane. Their daughter, Chrissy, was married, and then, later, she came out.

(on camera): How difficult was it for you to tell your parents?

CHRISSY GEPHARDT, DAUGHTER OF DICK GEPHARDT: Well, it was -- it was brutal. I mean, it was the hardest thing I have ever done.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The Gephardts embraced their daughter.

D. GEPHARDT: It was a no-brainer for us. We love our kids unconditionally.

C. GEPHARDT: My parents are exposed to a whole new world as well. And they have got the lingo down and everything now.


D. GEPHARDT: We have learned a lot. For old goats, we're doing OK.

J. GEPHARDT: I was going to say, as hips as old goats can be.


ANDERSON: Filmmaker Daniel Karslake, who is gay and Christian, hopes the documentary triggers a debate.

DANIEL KARSLAKE, FILMMAKER: I want people to have tools to have the discussion, because, once the discussion happens, then minds and hearts change, and at least love can survive.

ANDERSON: But Karslake is unlikely to convince everyone.

Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association hasn't seen the film, but he dismisses a more liberal view of the Bible's teachings.

ED VITAGLIANO, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION: These are the kind of arguments that homosexual activists have been making for -- for almost 35 years. The kinds of scholars who hold to them are very fringe.

ANDERSON: It will take time to bridge the gap between such different views of the Bible. But some people believe, the tide is turning.

D. GEPHARDT: I think we're -- we're -- we're changing. We're moving. This is a journey for the whole country, for all of the people. And I think, while we're not where we need to be and where I hope we can be, we're making great progress.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Park City, Utah.


ZAHN: Let's take a closer look now at what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Joining me now, faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher.



ZAHN: So, according to this movie, are Christians being misled about what the Bible says about homosexuality?

GALLAGHER: Well, I think most Christians will tell you, absolutely not, that it's there; it's in black and white, doesn't require any interpretation.

And, furthermore, the Christian view of homosexuality, I think, for many Christians, is based not just on the sort of six or seven phrases that are referred to in Leviticus or in Corinthians, but also in Genesis, on this idea of man and woman being created by God for each other. They have the physical apparatus, and that's how you know that's what God sort of intended for them.

So, I think that, even if you were to say, these phrases in the Bible, these verses in the Bible don't refer to homosexuality, as we understand it today, which is part of the argument that the movie makes, for many Christians, that would be something that would, A, be difficult to accept, but, B, wouldn't necessarily change their view of homosexuality.

ZAHN: Let's look at -- specifically at some of the biblical verses that have inspired so much controversy.

Leviticus, Chapter 18, Verse 22: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable."

Corinthians 1, Chapter 6, Verse 9 through 10: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders."

Well, some Christians would say, that's pretty clear in the writings.

So, why is it subject to so many interpretations?

GALLAGHER: Well, there's -- the Bible is, you know, open to interpretation.

Now, there are some Christians who take it very literally, as we know. And there are some who think it's OK to interpret it. Now, in those particular instances, for example, what -- what some people want to say -- and some of them are Christians -- is that, at that time, in that context, it wasn't referring to homosexuality. It was referring to male prostitution, or it was referring to promiscuity. So, there are these kind of interpretations of what exactly is the reference to homosexuality in those verses. And, of course, this has been debated and can be debated quite widely. But, I think, for the average Christian who reads that, as you say, it seems fairly clear that it refers to homosexuality, as they understand it today.

ZAHN: Well, we're going to continue the debate tonight after you leave us.

Delia Gallagher, thank you. Appreciate it.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.

So, let's turn to our -- tonight's "Out in the Open" panel, Republican political consultant Reverend Joe Watkins, liberal Air America radio host Rachel Maddow, and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

Good to see you all.


ZAHN: All right, Reverend, I get to start with you.



ZAHN: You are the guy that has studied this most.

How many Christian conservatives out there actually buy into the idea that this documentary suggests, that they are, in a misleading way, using the Bible to justify intolerance, bigotry, in some cases,even violence against gays?

WATKINS: Well, I'm a Christian. And I also happen to be a pastor.

And I really don't know of any ministers that are out there preaching intolerance or bigotry toward anybody, because we are supposed to be telling people to love each other and not to judge each other.

ZAHN: All right. But hang on a minute.

Polls would suggest that half of people going to church in Christian churches across the churches are getting very negative messages about what it means to be gay in America today.

WATKINS: Well, the Bible says what it says. I mean, we can't change the words of the Bible.

ZAHN: Says what it says, but it's subject to so many different interpretations.

WATKINS: I don't think so. ZAHN: No one can agree with...


WATKINS: For instance, the Bible says honor your mother and your father. How do you interpret that? Well, you're supposed to honor your mother and your father. It's very, very simple.

The same thing is true with regards to lying, or cheating, or killing somebody, with regards to adultery or fornication. The Bible is very clear about that.

Now, we may not like what it says. There are lots of people that say, well, you know, that was then, and, in this new society...

ZAHN: Well...


ZAHN: ... scholars say where women had no involvement in the church at that point, so they really weren't even referring to women in Leviticus.

WATKINS: Well, with regards to fornication or adultery or any of the other things, I mean, obviously, it takes two to tango, as they say.

ZAHN: Well...

WATKINS: But the Bible speaks clearly about it.

And the point is, is that we're supposed to love everybody and preach the Gospel of Jesus, just as it is there in the Bible, and love everybody, not judge them, and remember the fact that -- guess what -- the Bible says we're all sinners, that everybody, including the preachers, are people who have sinned and who have been saved by grace.

And, so, we're supposed to love folks and preach the Gospel to them, and not try to change it, and not try to change it to make it sound like people want it to sound, but to preach it in love.

ZAHN: As a gay woman...


ZAHN: ... do you think that the Christian conservatives that are referred to in this documentary are as tolerant as the reverend would suggest he is?


If everybody was like Joe, and saying that, really, the message of the Bible is that we have got to love everybody, then we probably wouldn't be having this discussion. You know that there's other people out there who are saying the word of God and the word of the Bible is that homosexuality is an abomination. And, therefore, we must discriminate against gay people. We must do everything we can to delegitimize the gay agenda and the gay lifestyle. And, in some cases, people are calling for violence.

The problem is...

ZAHN: Have you personally been victimized by that? Have people treated you...


MADDOW: I have been the target of anti-gay violence in my life, yes. I have been the target of religious bigotry. When I came out, I certainly was preached to and had my family preached to about the virtues or vices of me coming out. And it was not a pleasure experience.

The fact is that there is stuff in Leviticus about homosexuality. There's also stuff in Leviticus about eating ostrich and about eating rabbit and about -- and they do say, yes, honor your mother and your father.

WATKINS: I don't eat those anyway.



WATKINS: Oh, so -- and that's why?


WATKINS: You brought up honoring your mother and your father.

In Leviticus, it says, if you curse your mother or your father, you should be killed. That's in Leviticus. That's very close to the abomination of homosexuality stuff. We don't take that literally. I don't think we ought to take the homosexuality stuff literally either.

ZAHN: Jamal, jump in here. The young man who made this documentary we were introduced to in the piece is Christian. He describes himself as gay. He said he hopes this sparks a debate.

What is the debate you think it should be sparking?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the debate ought to be between whether or not -- even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin, does that then legitimize your going out and -- and acting violently or discriminating against gays and lesbians? And...

ZAHN: Do you think there are people who are hiding behind the Bible and their interpretation of Leviticus to gay-bash?

SIMMONS: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK) SIMMONS: There are people in American society who are not open- minded. And they use whatever they can use to be not open-minded.

In the Bible, it says very clearly, whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. It doesn't say whosoever is straight.

So, our commandment is to love each other, even if the other person is sinning. And, as Joe said -- and we rarely get to agree -- even if the other person is sinning, we are still supposed to love each other.

ZAHN: We have got to end on that note. I'm thinking, like, we should sing kumbaya together...


ZAHN: ... even though you do not think that that is the resolution of this debate.

Joe Watkins, Rachel Maddow, and Jamal Simmons, lots more to talk about with all of you here in just a little bit.

A pair of cold cases involving racism are out in the open and back in the news tonight. Coming up next: A man some thought was dead is not only alive; he has been charged in connection with the killings of two black teenagers way back in 1964.

And, in a case nearly as old, some former Black Panthers are accused of killing a white police officer.

We will be right back with more.


ZAHN: Another story we're bringing out in the open tonight: Muslim cab drivers who won't pick up people who carry alcohol. If they are that strict about their religion, should they get another job?

Next, we are bringing two racially charged murder cases out in the open tonight. All but forgotten for decades, they are suddenly red hot.

The first takes us back to Mississippi during the civil rights era and the brutal unsolved killing of two black teenagers. Well, tonight, more than 40 years later, a suspect is finally facing charges in those deaths. And it's thanks to two men, a dedicated filmmaker and a man who refused to let the memory of his dead brother fade away.

Rusty Dornin on that case that defied investigators for so many decades.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 43 years, this was the only marker of the death of 19-year-old Charles Moore, a misspelled tombstone in the outer reaches of the local cemetery. Then, two years ago, his brother Thomas decided that was it.

THOMAS MOORE, BROTHER OF CHARLES EDDIE MOORE: I promised him, in 2005, at his grave in -- in Franklin County, Mount Olive Cemetery, that I will fight until I die.

DORNIN: A promise to find justice in the deaths of his brother Charles and Charles' friend Henry Dee, two African-American teens brutally murdered in 1964, their killings never solved.

So, Thomas Moore went home to Meadville, Mississippi, where the CBC documentary filmmaker and Donna Ladd, a reporter from "The Jackson Free Press." She took us to where it all began, on Main Street.

DONNA LADD, "JACKSON FREE PRESS": This spot is where they were hitchhiking.

DORNIN: According to FBI informants in documents dating from 1964, the African-American teens were picked up by James Seale and Charles Edwards, reputed members of the Ku Klux Klan. The documents allege, and Edwards took the young man here, to the Homochitto National Forest.

LAND: They took them out of the car. They tied them to a tree and kind of around their waist. And then they took these long, skinny sticks that we call bean sticks and just started beating them.

DORNIN: When Thomas Moore went with CBC filmmaker David Ridgen to this spot, the impassioned brother acted out the deed.

The two young men are believed to have been alive when they were reportedly then tied to an engine block and thrown into the Old Mississippi River. Edwards and Seale were arrested in 1964, charged with kidnapping and murder. The FBI turned the case over to local authorities.

But a justice of peace said witnesses refused to testify. And the charges against Seale and Edwards were dropped. There just wasn't enough evidence, they said.

When Thomas Moore vowed justice for her brother, James Seale was thought to have died years earlier. Then, to his utter shock, Moore found out otherwise.

MOORE: They said, no, he hasn't passed away. And they directed us to where he lived. That changed our mission.

DORNIN: Seale lived here, in an R.V. on his brother's property.

MOORE: I'm calling for James Ford Seale!

DORNIN: Moore did everything but walk up to Seale's door. He even planted signs outside the property.

In July 2005, the U.S. attorney's office agreed to take a fresh look at the case. Then, 19 months later, just yesterday, James Seale was arrested.

Meadville resident Gloria Bonds went to school with one of the murder victims.

GLORIA BONDS, RESIDENT OF MEADVILLE, MISSISSIPPI: I never thought that I would live to see this day, you know, that -- when someone was arrested for their murders.

DORNIN: Seale has consistently denied involvement in the murders.

Almost exactly 42 years after charges against him were dropped, today, James Seale was walked into federal court under heavy guard, arraigned on kidnapping and conspiracy charges in the deaths of Charles Moore and Henry Dee.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Meadville, Mississippi.


ZAHN: And joining me now, the man who swore he would pursue justice in the Mississippi murders, Charles Moore's brother, Thomas Moore, and David Ridgen, a producer, who you just met in the piece for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Good to have both of you with us tonight.

So, Thomas, after all of these years, tell me what these last two days have meant to you.

MOORE: I'm still trying to describe the way I feel.

Naturally, I'm very satisfied as to what has happened. I guess, most of all, I'm satisfied that I was allowed to participate in trying to help solve this terrible crime.

ZAHN: And you have been at this for decades and decades.

What was it like for your family to have to live through that period of time where there was no justice?

MOORE: It was terrible.

I had no one to turn to. I watched my mother fade away after 13 years after Charles Moore was killed. No one came to assist me, to the point where David Ridgen and the Canadian Broadcasting Company came and helped me 19 months ago.

ZAHN: And, David, a lot of people think this case might never have been solved, had it not been for your interest in this case, your involvement with Thomas, and trying to better understand what really happened to his brother.

Did you ever think that your efforts would result in the arrest of someone? DAVID RIDGEN, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCER: Well, it's really like a dream, Paula. Who knew that, when this idea came in my head 19 months ago, that we would end up so far down that road?

I mean, we traveled roads in Mississippi for over -- five trips, Thomas and I together, over the last 19 months. And, really, this feels like a fairy tale or something. Like, watching your story that you showed here with the shots, some of the shots I took, and other shots other people took, it's like revisiting my life over the last two years. It's really an incredible story.

ZAHN: Thomas, on one hand, we heard David describe this as a fairy tale.

And, yet, I know it must still be difficult for you to sort of split apart your joy in knowing that someone finally has been held responsible for killing your brother, but he wasn't actually, James Seale, charged with murder. Does that make you angry?

MOORE: (AUDIO GAP) because, as the U.S. attorney -- or -- correction -- the attorney general stated today, this is an old case. For different reasons or another, this is the best thing that they could come up with, or the only thing they could come up with at this time. And I'm satisfied with that.

ZAHN: And there was no time during this period, when you watched your mother suffer so horribly, that you were even tempted to give up the search for his killer?


I mean, I wanted to -- I wanted do all I could, because I felt I had an obligation to Charles Moore and Henry Dee. I fought for this country 30 years and 15 days in the United States Army. And I kept telling myself that there is justice. But I did not have anyone to -- to go with me. It was a lonely trip for me, 42 years -- 41 years, rather. And David Ridgen finally tracked me down.

There have been other times that opportunity presented itself, but it didn't go anywhere. So, when we started from Colorado Springs in July, we said, let's go.

ZAHN: And the two of you went. And that's the reason why we're talking this huge -- about this huge break in the case tonight.

Thomas Moore, thank you so much for your time, David Ridgen, as well.

RIDGEN: Thank you.

ZAHN: We wish both of you the best of luck.

MOORE: Thank you.

ZAHN: We're going to talk about another racial killing, this one from the early 1970s. It is also out in the open tonight -- coming up next: why it took so long to accuse some former Black Panthers of plotting to kill a white policeman.

Then, we will head for an airport where some travelers they can't catch a cab, because the Muslim cab drivers are being too strict about religion, like not wanting to take them anywhere because they have alcohol. We will see what that sparked.

We will be right back.


ZAHN: We continue now with another unsolved murder mystery suddenly out in the open, thanks to modern DNA detective work.

This week, authorities arrested eight men for their alleged role in the 1971 murder of a white police officer in San Francisco. Now, prosecutors say the suspects were part of a violent radical group with ties to the Black Panther Party.

Dan Simon is following this case that dates all the way back to a time when some black militants spread their own brand of intolerance.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Black Panther Party started in Oakland, California in the 1960s, a group that believed military tactics could help African-Americans achieve civil rights -- in the Panthers' crosshairs, law enforcement officers, perceived as oppressors in that turbulent time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of black people.


SIMON: On August 29, 1971, four men burst into a San Francisco police station, and opened fire, killing an officer in the reception area.

Nearly 36 years later, a picture of Sergeant John Young hangs just feet from where he was killed. Attempts to bring people to justice over the years have been unsuccessful. The case went cold.

But police say, advances in forensic science offered fresh leads, and led to this stunning announcement.

HEATHER FONG, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE CHIEF: I'm pleased to announce that multiple arrests have been made in the 1971 killing of San Francisco Police Sergeant John V. Young.

SIMON (on camera): The arrest, eight of them, were carried out in New York, Florida, and California. Some of the suspects are now grandfathers with respectable jobs. But police say all but one of them are former members of the Black Liberation Army, a violent offshoot of the Black Panthers.

(voice-over): Seven have been charged with Young's murder, one charged only with conspiracy to murder police officers.

Attorneys for two of the suspects questioned the motives behind the arrests and whether there's truly new evidence.

STU HANLON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is 35 years old. I think, by the government's own concession, they concede that there's no new scientific evidence. And I have not seen or heard of anything new.

JIM BUSTAMANTE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a broad conspiracy that covered the entire 1960s, late '60s and early '70s, and the political landscape of that time. And I don't see how we can try that period of history.

SIMON: But some find that sentiment offensive. Diarmuid Philpott spent 32 years in the San Francisco Police Department, and was a close friend of the murdered officer.

DIARMUID PHILPOTT, RETIRED SAN FRANCISCO POLICE OFFICER: If you take that to an extreme, somebody could commit a heinous crime now and say -- 20 years from now, say, well, oh, it's 20 years ago. I'm sorry. It's all over.

Oh, no. There's a responsibility.

SIMON: For Philpott and other retired officers, the case brings back memories of an era when race relations boiled over in the city and across the country.

PHILPOTT: It was a very tense time. It was very stressful. But you -- you grew accustomed to it. Over 12-month period we lost seven police officers shot dead on the streets or shot in bombing or shooting attacks on the stations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the way the racist government works?

SIMON: The Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army have long since collapsed but their legacy is still being debated. Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


ZAHN: Once again, our "Out in the Open" panel is standing by. Republican consultant Reverend Joe Watkins, Air America's Rachel Maddow and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Welcome back.

Let's start with the San Francisco case tonight. As we know, attorneys for the defendants are questioning the motive for following through with these arrests. Is this about revenge?

WATKINS: I don't think so. I think ultimately it's about justice. Justice is supposed to be colorblind and blind, period, so anybody who has done an injustice would have the person who committed the crime brought to justice. And I agree with what the police officer said just a few seconds ago, even if a crime was committed 20 or 30 years ago, it's important for the person who committed it to be brought to justice.

ZAHN: What kind of wounds does this reopen?

MADDOW: Well, there's no statute of limitations on murder for a reason. Because murder is a crime we treat specially. You wouldn't 35 years later try a property crime, you wouldn't 35 years later even try an assault. But with murder it's different. It never goes away in terms of the statute of limitations. That's why that's important.

In terms of what wounds this is going to open and whether or not this looks like more revenge or more like a political case rather than justice, we're going to have to wait to see what evidence there is. If there isn't new scientific evidence, if there isn't something new that indicates the guilt of these men who they've arrested, there are going to be questions to be asked about why now?

ZAHN: And those are legitimate questions, aren't they, Jamal?

SIMMONS: Those are absolutely legitimate questions.

In some sense I feel like we need a truth and reconciliation commission to go back into the '60s and look at all these different crimes. But if someone has murdered a police officer they should be held to account for that.

Now the question that we don't know, at that time there was a lot of FBI activity monitoring the groups, COINTELPRO, setting people up for different altercations. I would also like to see some investigation into whether the police forces had any role in that altercation.

ZAHN: Let's go back to the case I just talked about with Charles Moore whose brother of course was murdered some 43 years ago, finally, after decades and decades of looking for his murderer, the family has justice. A man has been arrested. What does it say that it took that long to get an arrest in this case? Does it say anything about the dead man's race? He was black.

SIMMONS: Well, it's clear that back when the crime occurred there was not the pursuit of justice that should have taken place. What's positive is maybe that now we're at a place in society where we will hold white men accountable for killing black men, which was not necessarily the case 40 years ago.

For some reason, that may be cause for a little celebration.

ZAHN: Your thoughts on that?

WATKINS: Again, justice in a perfect world, justice is blind. If anybody commits a crime, be that person black or white, takes another person's life, they ought to pay for it or be prepared to pay for it. And it has taken a long time. It's just as sweet for the families of those two men, who were killed, it's just as sweet for them today knowing somebody has been arrested for the crime. MADDOW: We've got to say something about justice delayed is justice denied. There is something different about someone being held to account when that happened.

The guy who they arrested today, this week, is the guy they arrested when the crime happened but the local authorities decided never to prosecute it. And they had to wait this long for somebody else to come in from outside the state, from outside the area and make it happen.

That affects how we think of justice being done in this case.

ZAHN: In the case of the murder of Charles Moore, the attorney general made it clear that today they couldn't charge him with murder because they just didn't have that evidence.

MADDOW: But they could charge him with something. Nobody was ever charged with anything before.

WATKINS: You have to ask the brother. You did. And the sister of the other fellow who was murdered. I mean, are they happy about this? Do they feel this is some semblance of justice? I think the answer is yes.

ZAHN: Certainly Thomas Moore was relieved.

SIMMONS: Happy maybe is too strong of a word. But satisfaction.

MADDOW: I think there's something important about how ambivalent we all feel about the prospect of 71-year-old, 75, 65-year-old men going to prison for crimes committed long ago. It kind of shows you that prison maybe shouldn't be the only thing we have to do to people in our justice system. Prison doesn't necessarily feel right in this case. I'm not sure what would be right.

We only have got one tool, prison. That's it. And it makes you wish we had some sort of reconciliation process beyond just locking people up.

ZAHN: Well that will fuel another debate another night. We don't have time to bite that one off.

We wanted you all to stick around. Thank you.

Just about every traveler knows the frustration of waiting for a cab only to have one zip right by you without stopping. Well something like that is happening a lot at one airport. Coming up, is it because the Muslim drivers are practicing their religion or intolerance?


ZAHN: A clash of culture and religion is "Out in the Open" tonight in Minnesota. Most of the taxi drivers who serve the main airport in Minneapolis and St. Paul are Muslim. And many of them are refusing to pick up people who have alcohol with them. They drivers say transporting liquor violates their religion. But airport officials say those drivers could end up losing their job over this. Keith Oppenheim has the story tonight from Minneapolis.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you see yourself as an American?

ABDULKADDIR ADAN, MUSLIM CAB DRIVER: I'm an American. I see myself as an American.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Abdulkaddir Adan has been driving a cab in the Twin Cities for two years. Adan says he would take me anywhere unless I was carrying alcohol.

ADAN: The one who drinks, the one who transports, and the one who makes business of it, they are the same category.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): So by taking my alcohol into your cab you are sinning.

ADAN: Sinning to God, yeah.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Adan is not alone. About 3/4 of the 900 cabbies serving the airport are Muslims. Many who say they will not pick up any passenger who has beer, wine or liquor.

ABDI AHMED, MUSLIM CAB DRIVER: This is America. We have freedom of religion.

OPPENHEIM: Bob Dildine is one of 54 passengers who has been refused in the last five years.

BOB DILDINE, PASSENGER: We were standing right in this area right here.

OPPENHEIM: Last May Dildine says was traveling with wine he bought on vacation when five cab drivers refused to give him and his daughter a ride.

DILDINE: They're here to provide service to people. We were a lawful customer and we were denied service. That's not our way of doing things.

OPPENHEIM: The Metropolitan Airport Commission or MAC, consulted the local Muslim-American society which issued this religion opinion or fatwa, or religious opinion.

KHALID ELMASRY, MUSLIM AMERICAN SOCIETY: It is clear and expressly stated that transportation of alcohol for Muslims is against the Islamic faith and, therefore, forbidden.

OPPENHEIM: Airport officials say after thousands of complaints from passengers they looked for a compromise.

(on camera): Last September, an idea was floated to put distinctive lights on the roofs of cabs of observant Muslim drivers. The idea was that the taxi stalker (ph), the person who directs you to a cab, you would be able to send people with packages like this to those cab drivers who have no objection to transporting alcohol.

PAT HOGAN, AIRPORT SPOKESPERSON: But the feedback we got, not only locally but really from around the country and in fact around the world was almost entirely negative. People saw that as condoning discrimination against people who had alcohol.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Right now any cabby who refuses a passenger carrying alcohol has to go to the back of the line. That could mean another three-hour wait for a fare. But now MAC is considering stiffer penalties, a 30-day suspension for a first refusal, a two-year suspension for a second.

HOGAN: We're now at a point where the taxi drivers may have to make a choice. That either this is a good fit for them in terms of their career options or they might need to look for another place to earn a living.

OPPENHEIM: Like many cabbies here, Adan feels the airport is unsympathetic and intolerant.

ADAN: I would leave my job instead of doing something that's not allowed in my religion.

OPPENHEIM: If he does leave, Adan could be one of hundreds of Minnesota cabbies who choose their faith over the next fare. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Minneapolis.


ZAHN: And airport officials tell us they are planning a public hearing next month on this divisive issue. They say if new penalties are put in place they would hold a job fair for any cab drivers who need to find work. Coming up in a moment, our "Out in the Open" panel digs into this story.

And if you ever dreamed of being on "American Idol," be sure to stay tuned for LARRY KING LIVE at the top of the hour.

Some former "Idol" contestants share the secrets of what it takes to get past those judges. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Welcome back. We were talking about the conflict over Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis-St. Paul who refuse to take passengers who have alcohol with them. Let's go back to our "Out in the Open" panel, the Reverend Joe Watkins, Rachel Maddow and Jamal Simmons.

All right. So, Rachel, is this more about the intolerance of these Muslim drivers who refuse to carry passengers who have alcohol on them or the intolerance of airport officials who won't honor the religious convictions of these drivers. MADDOW: I think it's about the limits of religious freedom. I think it's when your religious expression conflicts with civil non- discrimination and public accommodation, traditions and laws that we have in our constitutional democracy.

ZAHN: What does that mean?

MADDOW: What it means ...

ZAHN: I caught half of that.

MADDOW: It means that you can say that I can't be a priest in your religious domination, you can say that I can't be married in your religious church. You can say all those things. But if you are a business owner, if those are your religious beliefs, you can't say I can't sit at your lunch counter, you can't get in my cab, you can't say, I won't rent an apartment to you.

Public accommodation is protected by the Constitution. People have religious values. They're free to exhibit an of those religious beliefs any way they want to up until the point when you start talking about how you behave toward your fellow citizens in this democracy.

ZAHN: How do you reconcile this? Because you have been passed over by cabs in the past. If these same drivers are refusing to pick up blacks, is it fair for them to hand pick what their religious convictions are?

SIMMONS: Absolutely not.

ZAHN: And I think some people would charge, hide behind them.

SIMMONS: Absolutely not. And there is a couple of things here. One, how do you know the person has alcohol unless they're carrying it in the open. If a person was drunk, that was one thing.

But Muslims are just as selective about religion as Christians. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. There is a large Muslim concentration. They sell pork, they sell alcohol. They don't seem have a problem with it. So clearly these people are choosing to select this one particular rule to follow and I just don't know if American society you can express your religious values that really encroaches on other people's ability to have services.

ZAHN: Should they or should they not have a right to boycott passengers who are carrying alcohol?

WATKINS: Jamal hit the nail on the head. There are so many divisions within Islam. Most American Muslim cab drivers don't seem to have a problem picking people up. This is, I think, a cultural thing, these are foreign Muslim drivers who have a specific thing against people who have dogs or alcohol or they think may have alcohol.

MADDOW: You don't know they're all foreigners. There could be some American Muslims and we'd still be having the same debate. I mean, to me this is a big question about religious freedom. Should a Catholic pharmacist who is super pro-life be allowed to say no, I'm not going to give you that prescription that your doctor gave you? I say no. That religious ability (ph) prohibits you from being a good pharmacist then you shouldn't be a pharmacist.

ZAHN: But we know, of course, we're getting off on a tangent here, there have been pharmacists that won't dispense the pill and any forms of contraception.

SIMMONS: Aren't they picking people up because they're doing it for a living and they want to make Money?

MADDOW: If you're Amish, you can't be a bus driver, either. If your religion says you can't do something, that can't be your job.

WATKINS: Are they not going to pick up women who are not wearing veils? Is that going to be the next thing? Are Catholics going to demand women wear head covering when they get in the car? Everyone -- If we all went through this we would have a number of rules and we would all be trying to contort ourselves to fit into each person's religious framework, just to use their business.

ZAHN: We know these airport officials are going to be holding a hearing on this. What would you advise to do? How do they honor the integrity of one's religious convictions and also balance that with what, you were right, what you said earlier about the public's right to accommodation.

WATKINS: The public has a right to accommodation also. This is business. This is the free enterprise system at its best.

ZAHN: So fire these guys and find some drivers who will carry people who are toting around their kegs of beer.

WATKINS: This is the United States of America and in the United States you are supposed to pick up people who want a ride and want to pay you for a ride.

MADDOW: I think you could form a right to life pharmacy association and market yourself that way. You could say No Alcohol Guaranteed Cab Association and do that, too. But if you're not regulated by the airport authority and you're picking up passengers, you're going to pick up everybody. And you better prescribe what I've been prescribed, too, if you're a pharmacist.

ZAHN: What you essentially are saying, while you have empathy for their religious convictions, they shouldn't be cab drivers in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

SIMMONS: They shouldn't be picking up people at the airport if the rule is everybody gets picked up regardless of whether or not they're carrying alcohol. You can't have a special rule for your cab.

ZAHN: Bottom line. WATKINS: I agree. What if somebody has a seeing eye dog and they need a cab ride and he says, oh, it's against my religion to pick you up because you have a dog and dogs are unclean.

I think the board has an obligation to let these cabbies know, this is the United States of America. You pick that person up.

ZAHN: So there is no way that you are at all sympathetic to the argument that this is the -- the criticism of this is anti Muslim.

MADDOW: Religious freedom should be accommodated to the extent that it can. People should be allowed to wear their hair, religious dress, whatever they need to do. But when it comes to interfering with what you're doing, and what you're doing is providing a public accommodation, you have civil rights laws, non discrimination laws and public access laws and discrimination laws for a reason.

You've got to play by the rules.

SIMMONS: And what you do in your home, what you do in your church, that's up to you. But when you're providing a public service, you have to live by the rules.

ZAHN: I want to know the last time you were in Minneapolis-St. Paul when you were toting liquor around.

WATKINS: I'm a nondrinker but I like dogs.

SIMMONS: You might need it in the cold weather.

MADDOW: My seeing eye dog carries one of those little barrels of rum around his neck, so I'm going to have a really hard time.

ZAHN: You're going to be walking.

MADDOW: Yeah, I'm going to be walking.

ZAHN: Joe Watkins, Rachel Maddow, Jamal Simmons. Thanks.

A woman who spent her career fighting for the rights of crime victims has discovered a new way to keep fighting but without going to work. Let's see how she does it. Coming up next. You might recognize her face.


ZAHN: And welcome back in this week's life after work, a woman spent her whole life fighting crime. Well, now she's turning that experience into a series of best sellers. Randi Kaye has her story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's spent her life fighting for victims of sexual assault.

LINDA FAIRSTEIN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: When I came to the practice of law in 1972, the laws in this state and across the country were so archaic that most victims of sexual assault were not allowed to have a day in court. So the year I joined the office more than 1,000 men in the City of New York were arrested for sexual assault. Eighteen of them were convicted.

KAYE: Linda Fairstein spent 30 years trying to change that. As head of the sex crimes unit in the New York district attorney's office, she pioneered the use of DNA evidence and made other real changes.

FAIRSTEIN: There was no victim advocacy, there were no rape crisis units, there were no rape evidence collection kits. Those all came to be through the years that I did the work.

KAYE: But she had another passion, writing crime novels.

FAIRSTEIN: The summer of 1994 we went to Martha's Vineyard and I spent a few hours every couple days writing this first crime novel that became "Final Jeopardy."

KAYE: In 2002 with the success of her writing career, Fairstein retired from the D.A.'s office. But not from the fight for victims of sexual assault.

FAIRSTEIN: It's interesting now that some of the celebrity, if you will, of the fictional career gets me in doors. People will listen who didn't listen to a Linda Fairstein, 35-year-old prosecutor.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: She is so humble. She had impact way back then.

Time now for a "Biz Break."

Worries about the economy, higher interest rates sparked a sell- off thing on Wall Street. Quite a change from yesterday.

The Dow dropping 119. The NASDAQ lost 32 points. The S&P was down 16.

Existing home sales fell in December. And 2006 saw the biggest drop in home sales in 17 years. The National Association of Realtors says prices remain nearly flat with a median home priced at $222,000.

Ford Motor Company reported the largest yearly loss in its history, $12.7 billion in 2006. Ford warned of more losses ahead. It's in the process of closing 16 plants, getting rid of some 45,000 jobs.

We're minutes away from the top of the hour. LARRY KING LIVE tonight, some of your favorite "American Idol" contest ants are sharing their secrets with Larry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

Tomorrow night we hope you join us because we'll be talking about a controversial new proposal to abolish race-based organizations in Congress. Do groups like the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus promote people's common interest or intolerance? We're going to debate that tomorrow night and we'll be checking in with one of the men who is behind this effort. We'll hope you'll join us then.

Again, appreciate you dropping by. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. Until then have a great night. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.