Showing posts with label vengeance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vengeance. Show all posts

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.