Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death penalty. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Your precious-feet pin won't get you into heaven anymore

Here's what it means to be a "pro-life" Republican politician these days in a most Republican state like . . . say . . . Nebraska.

(And, yes, I'm looking at you, Gov. Pete Ricketts, and especially you, Attorney General Doug Peterson.)

First, you make a lot of noise about "the sanctity of life." Then you advocate laws you damn well know will be shot down about 3.2 seconds after they land before a federal judge. This is fine with you, because then you can keep flogging the same ol' same ol' and keep raking in knee-jerk votes from knee-jerk voters. (Secretly, though, you worry that folks might realize someday that you and yours have accomplished absolutely nothing substantive on abortion since it became law of the land in 1973.)
After talking a good pro-life game about mamas, babies and the evil lib'ruls, you gut all the social programs that might make it easier for women to have and raise their children. Because pro-life.


Forget it, they're rolling.

Then, you make sure Nebraska's gun laws are loose enough so folks can kill one another as easily as possible. After all, you're pro-life, and assault weapons are, too. Because God, constitutional rights and freedom.


After pro-life criminal elements commit pro-life homicides, pro-life law-enforcement officers catch the perpetrators. Then pro-life judges impose pro-life death sentences, all to demonstrate the sacredness of the sanctity of life. Because thou shalt not kill.
FINALLY, you have your corrections department try to buy lethal injection drugs on the black(ish) market because drug companies don't want your money -- or blood on their corporate hands. This is because they, no doubt, are anti-life pussies.

On your first foray into "Psst . . . you got the stuff?" you waste almost $28,000. Alas, the FDA was against you. So was UPS -- it sent your stash back to India for lack of proper paperwork.

Several years later, when you finally come up with the ingredients for a toxic cocktail, you find a legislative committee is wary enough to subpoena the corrections director to a hearing.

So, in the name of the rule of law and the sanctity of human life, you sue the legislative committee to keep the corrections director from appearing . . . or answering any questions about where he got the drugs. Or even what drugs the state bought.

Pro-life means never having to say you're sorry -- or anything at all, actually.

This all makes complete sense to me. Then again, I've been dropping a lot of the brown acid lately, man.

Pay no attention to the Mexican gorilla bench-pressing a cow. The socialist baby-killers sent them here to distract you. And the air tastes like Jesus. Squirrel!

God Bless America.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Coincidence? I think not

Of all the things Nebraska's bazillionnaire governor could throw his fortune behind that actually might benefit his state, what does Pete Ricketts choose to bankroll to the tune of $200,000?

Education initiatives for the state's poorest residents? Nope.

Higher education?  Nope.

Job training for the chronically unemployed? Nope.

Food banks? Nope.

After school programs for underprivileged kids? Nope.

Antiviolence efforts in north and south Omaha? Nope.

A petition drive to restore the death penalty, which was eliminated by the Nebraska Legislature over the veto of the governor, who likes to tout his pro-life Catholicism? Bingo!

Proceed to "GO" . . . and pick up a batch of black-market execution drugs on your way there. Gov. Pete still has hope.

FROM Saturday's Omaha World-Herald:
Gov. Pete Ricketts has doubled his monetary backing of the petition drive to restore the death penalty in Nebraska.

A report filed Friday shows the governor gave $100,000 to Nebraskans for the Death Penalty in early July, which comes on top of the $100,000 he gave to the campaign in June.

His donations account for nearly one-third of the funds raised by the group, which has less than a month left to gather signatures on a petition seeking to put the fate of capital punishment on next year’s ballot.

The referendum petition would ask voters whether they want to undo legislation repealing the state’s death penalty. 
Ricketts’ role in financing the petition drive appears to be a first, at least in recent decades. Past governors have signed petitions or thrown their political support behind them but have not been top contributors to the drives.
PERHAPS the governor's parish priest needs to have a loooooooong talk with hizzoner. For a "pro-life" kind of guy, Pete Ricketts surely does seem to be quite enamored with killing.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.
2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
AUSTIN POWERS, call your office. Nebraska needs your help.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

You gotta kill somebody

Yesterday, Nebraska had the death penalty. Today, it doesn't.

Be that is it may, the execution executive branch of state government isn't taking the unicameral's override of Gov. Pete Rickett's veto of legislation abolishing the death penalty lying down. On the question of making murderers dead -- despite Nebraska not executing anyone since 1997 and its problems obtaining the proper drugs for lethal injection -- Attorney General Doug Peterson's attitude can only be described as "never say die."

Because he wants to kill. Kill! KILL! KILLLLLLL!
Doug Peterson
One day after state lawmakers repealed the death penalty, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is questioning a portion of a repeal law dealing with the fate of the 10 men currently on death row.

But State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the sponsor of the repeal law, said Thursday that the attorney general doesn’t have a case.

"There’s no legal issue here," Chambers said.

Peterson, in a press release, said its office, "at the appropriate time," will seek a court decision to resolve the state’s ability to execute those currently on death row.

He pointed to language in Legislative Bill 268 that states: "It is the intent of the Legislature that in any criminal proceeding in which the death penalty has been imposed but not carried out prior to the effective date of this act, such penalty shall be changed to life imprisonment."

"We believe this stated intent is unconstitutional," Peterson said.

Only the State Pardons Board, under the state constitution, can change a criminal sentence, he said, the Legislature cannot do that.

Chambers, in an interview, said he knows that and reflected that in drafting the bill. He said he also made it clear during floor debate on LB 268 that while the Legislature’s "intent" was that death-row inmates get life sentences, the body has no power to do that.

"Courts have always said that intent language has no legal effect," the senator said. "We recognized that the bill would not change the (death) sentences."

However, Chambers added, LB 268 removes the state’s method for carrying out a death sentence.

Because of the new law, the 10 men on death row would continue to have death sentences, he said, but the state would have no way to execute them unless the Legislature enacted a new method of execution.

"And the Legislature is not going to authorize any method of execution," Chambers said.
NOW, BEING that Nebraskans deserve full disclosure from its elected officials, Peterson should immediately reveal whether he ever sat on the Group W bench and, if so, for how long.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who needs killin'?

When you get right down to it, the United States is really just a great big Texas. We're pretty sure that some people just need killin'.

Cop killers need killin'. They're at the top of the killin' list. They need killin' even if we're only pretty sure they actually killed a cop.

Troy Davis, down in Georgia, needs killin' bad. The convicted cop killer needs killin' so bad that the state parole board looked past seven of nine original witnesses recanting all or a portion of their testimony, as well as a dearth of physical evidence, to make it so come Wednesday night.

HERE IS the latest from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A landmark Georgia case brought about the abolition of capital punishment in the United States, and another landmark Georgia case reinstated it. But even with those monumental precedents on the books, no Georgia death sentence has drawn as much international attention and controversy as the one scheduled Wednesday night for Troy Anthony Davis.

If Davis is put to death as scheduled, the legacy of this bitterly fought case could be the persistence of unyielding prosecutors -- and the victim's family -- who stared down worldwide criticism and innocence claims to see his execution carried out. It will also leave many wondering if the state executed an innocent man.

"Justice will be done and that's what we were fighting for," said Anneliese MacPhail, whose son was a 27-year-old Savannah police officer when he was gunned down 22 years ago. When asked if she thinks Davis killed her son, she answered, "There is no doubt in my mind."

Davis sits on death row for the 1989 killing of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail, a former Army Ranger who was moonlighting on a security detail when he was shot three times before he could draw his handgun. Today marks the fourth execution date for Davis; on the three prior occasions, he was granted a stay.

A decision early Tuesday by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejecting pleas to halt Davis' execution appears to have all but sealed his fate. The board has the sole authority in Georgia to grant clemency to a condemned inmate.

Still, Davis' lawyers said they plan to file last-ditch appeals today claiming there remains new evidence that shows Davis was convicted and sentenced to death based on misleading evidence and testimony. "I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice," Brian Kammer, one of Davis' attorneys, said.

Davis' supporters said they would ask Chatham County prosecutors to void the execution warrant. "This is a civil rights violation, a human rights violation in the worst way," the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, said at a Tuesday press conference.

The five-member parole board did not disclose the breakdown of its vote. It also did not address questions involving Davis' innocence claims or say it was convinced beyond any doubt he is guilty.

Instead, in a statement, the board said its members "have not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death-penalty case." The board said it considered all the information and "deliberated thoroughly" before reaching its decision.

I DON'T KNOW that anything will change how in love with death -- and the death penalty -- we Americans are. Some people just need killin'. That's it. Period. End of discussion.

We kill crooks because they done killed somebody. We kill fetuses because they done inconvenienced somebody -- or their presence done scared somebody to death . . . or they might be born deformed . . . or Mama and Daddy are dead broke . . . or something.

In foreign lands, we kill foreigners -- with bombs and tanks and assault rifles. We get pissed off, and they get in the way.

That's just the way we are. There is no problem so daunting that we can't fix it with somebody's premature demise.

What part of "end of discussion" do you not understand?

Then again, since we're stuck with our penchant for "the final solution," it seems to me that we can at least be sporting about it. Take executions, for example. The Georgia parole board is dead-set (pun intended) on executing Troy Davis no matter the doubts, no matter the protests . . . and no matter getting seriously on the wrong side of the pope.

Fine. Obviously the members are sure enough to stake a man's life on their findings.

But are they sure enough to stake their own lives on it? It would only be sporting if they weren't as sure as they ought to have been -- screw up and kill an innocent man, give up your own lives as retribution. It's the American Way, and we Americans are about nothing if not retribution.

If we are to have the death penalty, that is the only fair way to implement it . . . and to make sure we're not killing innocent people for others' sins. If a parole board orders an unjust execution, and it's carried out, and the error is uncovered, the members should be given just enough time to get their affairs in order before their case is forwarded to the Court of Heavenly Appeals.

The same should apply to sentencing judges, condemning jurors and clemency-denying governors. After all, fair is fair.

And we Americans are about nothing if not fairness, right?


The 'Party of Life'

Pro-lifers associate themselves with this bunch -- pols like Mitch McConnell and his ilk --at their own cultural, political and spiritual peril.

There is a big difference between anti-abortion and pro-life. Anti-abortionites have no problem with cheering for executions and demanding that society let people die for lack of health insurance; pro-lifers, on the other hand, are deeply troubled by the former and absolutely horrified by the latter.

The Republican Party is nominally anti-abortion, and the "pro-life" establishment is just fine with making that particular deal with the devil.

Even more distressing is how many Catholics have bought into such a limited vision of defending human life.

The church
teaches that the sanctity of human life begins at conception and continues until natural death.
It's therefore unacceptable to accept a vision of "pro-life" that ends the moment an infant emerges from the birth canal and gets a sharp slap on the buttocks. In a "pro-life" world, there is no room for "Let 'em die!" or wild applause for the death penalty.

THERE IS plenty of room for that under the banner of "anti-abortion," and plenty of lemmings to march beneath it.

Anti-abortion is what Republican presidential candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the nation's fastest and loosest executioner, really mean when they talk about the GOP being "the party of life." Pro-life is a bridge too far, as evidenced by the indifference toward "the least of these" who make it out of the womb.

For America's highly politicized "pro-life" operatives, letting vulnerable humanity shift for itself after the first nine months is "good enough for government work." Unfortunately for them, I suspect the Almighty doesn't grade on a curve.

HAT TIP: Think Progress.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

'Kill! Kiilll! Kiiilllll!'

Too bad there's not a Group W bench for governors.

And it's too bad you can't send them there for disrespecting constitutional governance.

I know Nebraska's "pro-life" chief execute-ive, "Lethal" Dave Heineman, thinks it's too bad the statehouse isn't the Army induction center in Alice's Restaurant, and that the U.S. Constitution doesn't hand out gold stars for political bloodlust.

BUT THERE he is, and there we are, and the Lincoln Journal-Star is there to report on the latest unseemly spectacle put on by a guy who's against abortion for all the white, er right, babies but fairly enthusiastic about the Grim Reaper otherwise:
Gov. Dave Heineman said Wednesday he is more determined than ever that the state execute the men on Nebraska's death row.

Heineman made the comment in a conference call with reporters after being asked about the state's difficulty in obtaining one of the three drugs called for in Nebraska's lethal injection protocol.

"At the end of the day, we need to find a way to carry out the death sentences that are appropriate for these first-degree murderers," he said.

The Department of Correctional Services has had trouble finding a supply of sodium thiopental, which has been in short supply since last year, when the only U.S. manufacturer, Hospira Inc., said it was ending production because of death-penalty opposition overseas.


Meanwhile, an attorney for Carey Dean Moore plans to ask for Moore's death sentence to be vacated because he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being allowed to believe he might be executed, even though prison officials knew the drug they bought earlier could not be used.

"I find it frustrating, and it makes me more than a bit angry that we are worried about the cruel and unusual punishment regarding these criminals who ... were involved in first-degree murders," Heineman said.

He said he strongly supports the death penalty.

"I haven't heard them express any remorse for their victims or their families. It's not going to bring back their son or daughter, their mom or dad," Heineman said. "So no, I'm more determined than ever" to make sure the executions are carried out.
IN OTHER WORDS, "Kill! Kiilll! Kiiilllll!"

I would say "Lord, have mercy!" at this point, but I think we're done with that. The Good Lord is, I am fairly certain, in the process of letting us have exactly what we want. Good and hard, as H.L. Mencken once said.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How not to win friends and influence juries

Some people are indeed too stupid to live.

One of these would be Mr. Isaiah Doyle of Jefferson Parish, La.

I'm not a supporter of the death penalty but, frankly, it's hard to say that Mr. Doyle doesn't have it coming. And if I had been a member of this particular jury, as you will see in
The Times-Picayune's trial coverage here, I probably would have insisted that the sentence be, uh, executed right there on the spot:
Hours after he claimed he'd like to kill all the members of the jury that convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of a store clerk in Marrero, the same Jefferson Parish jury recommended that Isaiah Doyle die by lethal injection.

The jury of three men and nine women deliberated just under two hours returning a verdict just before 11 p.m.

Doyle showed no emotion as the verdict was read. His mother, Yvette Doyle, collapsed in tears in the audience and was helped by family out of the courtroom.

Doyle, 28, killed Hwa Lee, 26, on Aug. 4, 2005, even though she complied with his demands that she give him cash from the register behind the counter of her parents' Barataria Boulevard convenience Store.

He blasted her with four .45-caliber rounds and initially told Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office detectives it was an accident. For that, he was convicted of murder by a jury Thursday night.

But, after warning court officials for days he'd take the witness stand, he testified Friday during his penalty hearing that the shooting was no mistake.

"The only reason she was shot four times is because the gun jammed," he told the jury. "Otherwise, I would have emptied the gun in her f****** head."


Doyle testified against the advice of his attorneys and said he had no remorse for what he did to Lee. He said he had no sympathy for her or her family. And he lashed out at the jury.

"I hate every last one of you, especially him right there," he said pointing to a man on the panel. "I wish I could cut his head off."

At another point in his testimony, he said, "If I had an AK-47 (assault rifle), I'd kill every last one of you."
WHEN YOU'RE busy failing at life (and at getting life), it's probably no big whoop to fail at Dale Carnegie, too. In this case, that's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't mess with Cokie

You can take the girl out of Louisiana, but you can't always take the Louisiana out of the girl.

And, you know, that ain't always a bad thing.

I suppose I need to follow This Week more carefully, because I totally missed this gem of a moment from early October, when veteran ABC and National Public Radio correspondent Cokie Roberts gave a short, blunt and quite reasonable answer to the question "How do you solve a problem like Polanski?"

REALLY, there's a certain rough elegance to prescription written by the daughter of two Louisiana members of Congress -- just take Roman Polanski out and shoot him. While we can argue about state violence and the death penalty -- which I'd just as soon abolish -- it takes a moral midget (of which we have plenty) to equivocate about the gravity of what the acclaimed director did.

He took a 13-year-old girl, plied her with drugs and champagne, then had his way with her. The law calls that rape. Most also would call it pedophilia. And what he has coming would pretty much involve taking him out and shooting him.

And though I would like the state to operate on a plain slightly above "He needed killin'" . . . well, sometimes, it just has to be said.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Does he just play a hypocrite on television?

When the subject is capital punishment, things get real weird real fast in the Nebraska Legislature.

THE QUESTION before the body (pun unintended) today is whether unicameral Speaker Mike Flood is really a massive hypocrite, or whether he just plays one on television.

From the Omaha World-Herald:
The 31-7 vote came as the Nebraska Legislature had first-round debate to a bill that would change the method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection.

The rejected amendment, offered Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, was based on a recently passed law in Virginia. It narrowed who qualifies for the death penalty to only those murderers whose crimes was confirmed by DNA evidence, who confessed in a video recording or whose crime was caught on video.

Avery said the recent case of the Beatrice 6 - in which six people convicted of a 1985 murder in Beatrice and were exonerated via DNA evidence - is a reason to narrow the application of the death penalty to those who could be convincingly proven to have committed a heinous murder. "We have an obligation if we are to use lethal injection that we get it right," Avery said.

State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, the chief sponsor of the lethal injection bill, said that Avery must be "watching CSI" because DNA and video evidence doesn't exist in every murder case.

"That is a fantasy you on television," Flood said, adding that Avery's bill would change the burden of proof from "without a reasonable doubt" to "conclusive proof."
BUT WAS IT a "fantasy Flood" playing the part of a pretentious butthead, live on the state's NET 2 educational-television channel, which covers the Legislature gavel-to-gavel?

Really, viewers want to know whether the speaker's a clown only when the red light's on. When the gavel came down and the cameras cut out, did Flood go up to Avery, slap him on the back and ask "Was that an over-the-top performance or what?"

Yeah, I was ROFLMAO right in front of the big screen.

AS FAR AS Nebraska's death penalty goes, I have an idea: Do away with it. Save the money, the court fights and the nagging worry about whether -- or when -- we're going to execute an innocent person.

And bypass the whole question surrounding the justice of condemning some kinds of folk to die versus letting others die of old age someday in a prison hospital ward, or even walking out of the state pen on some distant day . . . free as an ex-jailbird.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bobby Jindal: Cafeteria Catholic

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is furious that the U.S. Supreme Court told his state, "No, you can't execute child-rapers," but plans to do nothing about it -- beyond affecting outrage in a bid to placate Bubba -- so the justices have no excuse to strike down his reform agenda.

WHAT THE GUB'NA has failed to address is that Louisiana's penchant for killing murderers -- and trying to kill those who rape kids -- seemingly has done nothing to lower the stratospheric rate at which its citizens assault, maim, bugger and slay one another. In a state where life already is cheap, government policy has been to make it even cheaper by dispensing death sentences like so many Chiclets out of a penny gum machine.

And in a state where educational achievement has always lagged, Louisianians never have figured out, exactly, that death + death = more death. Not respect for life.

Neither have they figured out that kiddie rape + death = one dead rapist plus a lot more live ones in the pipeline. Death is no "deterrent" to people already sick enough to rape children. And the state's murder of killers and rapists capable of being punished and removed from society without use of the death penalty is not justice . . . or punishment.

It is vengeance. The modern state has no business in the vengeance business. The vengeance business is the monopoly of the Almighty.

YOU'D THINK SOMEONE who styles himself as
something of a Catholic apologist would know that. And you'd think that someone who goes around writing essays about the Catholic Church being The Church would pay a little bit more attention to its clear teaching:

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

[Emphasis mine -- R21]

INSTEAD, THIS is what we get from Louisiana's holier-than-thou chief executive, who suddenly discovered the joys of "cafeteria Catholicism," where you get to pick and choose the moral truths that suit you:
"I am outraged by the Supreme Court's decision. It is an affront to the people of Louisiana and the jury's unanimous decision in this case. The opinion reflects a clear abuse of judicial authority, trampling the constitutional authority of states to act through the legislative process. The Court found, 'there is a distinction between intentional first degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot be compared to murder in their severity and irrevocability.'

"The Supreme Court is dead wrong. It is fundamentally improper for the Supreme Court to base an important decision like this on its 'independent judgment' about a perceived 'national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape.' The opinion reads more like an out-of-control legislative debate than a constitutional analysis.

One thing is clear: the five members of the Court who issued the opinion do not share the same ‘standards of decency' as the people of Louisiana. One Justice said that 'the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child.' That is incredibly absurd. The most repugnant crimes deserve the harshest penalties, and nothing is more repugnant than the brutal rape of an eight-year-old child.

We will evaluate ways to amend our statute to maintain death as a penalty for this horrific crime."
IF SOME SICK S.O.B. brutally raped a daughter of mine, would I want him dead? Would I be capable of killing him myself, in cold blood? Probably so.

And I would expect that, in a civilized and just world, I would be arrested and put away for a long, long time. My desire to see that rapist dead -- and my ability to make it a do-it-yourself project -- is not a reflection of my goodness, but instead of what a fallen, wretched and sinful creature I am.

The state exists to help save me from myself and -- failing that -- to save others from my baser instincts. Even crooks.

When the state decides it's against only some baser instincts -- and not only that, but decides it will codify some of our baser instincts . . . provided they're carried out only against the "right" people -- the barbarians no longer are at the gate, but are running the show.

You'd think that an Ivy League-educated, Catholic-apologist governor would know that. But, like his empty promises of "transparency" and "reform," that would be just another "bridge too far."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nobody 'needs' killing

The following post was meant to be a comment on Rod Dreher's Crunchy Con post about the Turlock, Calif., toddler-stomping madman who "needed killing."

After writing the thing and checking it twice, I hit the "post comment" button . . . and the damn thing went into the Beliefnet moderation queue, which is kind of like a black hole, only worse. And I'd worked so hard on it. . . .

So here you go.

Anyway, it occurred to me that what the man "needed" wasn't killing but, instead, stopping. And the only way the cops could do that was by killing him. The difference may seem to be nothing more than mere semantics, but it's not.

The difference is between civilization and barbarism.

MY COMMENT BELOW takes the bait of a poster who asked "Libs in the room who are anti-abortion and pro-death penalty please raise your hands."
I'm a lib in the room who's anti-abortion AND anti-death-penalty.

It just seems to me -- even apart from any religious convictions I have on those matters -- than any "solution" to a problem that leaves someone dead isn't much of a solution at all.

In the case of abortion, there are possible solutions where no one has to die. The expectant mother can be assisted by government programs and by churches, crisis-pregnancy centers and other private initiatives. If she chooses to keep her child, there are programs to assist her in that as well -- though not enough.

And I know this is a radical concept, but the father also could, like, step up, be a man and take 50 percent responsibility in supporting and raising that child.

Then, there always is the option of adoption. Back in the "bad old days," we somehow recognized that option, and there was an entire infrastructure -- usually private -- for caring for young women in a tough spot who were willing to agree to adoption.

Sometimes, there isn't a solution that leaves no one dead . . . like in the case of "just war" (which Iraq ain't). That would be called an unavoidable tragedy, if not a catastrophe.

Likewise, in the case of the California maniac, it looks like the only way to stop the madman (albeit too late) was for the cops to take him out. No one ought to rejoice in that, or to say he "needed" killing.

Obviously, what he "needed" was help. He didn't get it. He killed his kid, and the cops had to end the threat in whatever way they could. It was a lose-lose situation.

But the minute we start thinking that someone "needed killing" in order for some greater good to occur -- that killing is a necessity, a good thing in itself, instead of a profound FAILURE of some sort -- we surrender yet another part of our soul to the barbarian within. And we surrender yet another piece of our incredibly fragile society to the barbarians at the gate.

Who would be us.

It is insufficient to be against the death penalty only because we might screw up in X number of convictions. We must be against the death penalty in all but the most extreme and desperate circumstances -- as in, that's the only reasonable and possible way to remove the threat of the evildoer . . . circumstances that are exceedingly rare, indeed -- because the life of even the worst murderer has worth and possesses some inherent dignity.

And when we violate that dignity, we violate our own and coarsen our society just that much more.

I will be the first to admit that there are some evil, violent SOBs who I think "deserve" killing in the worst way. That's emotion talking. Not only that, telling me to kill is the part of myself that has a hell of a lot in common with the evil SOB I so hate.

Giving in to that -- deciding that, yes, some people "need killing" -- is no virtue. It's a horrible vice.