Thursday, February 6, 2014
Hurry up and die
New Hampshire’s motto “Live Free or Die” has always appealed to the libertarian in me...philosophically. Taken literally and it’s a lot more complicated. In Missouri inmates on Death row are now being executed before all appeals are completed. In one instance, the final ruling came 20 minutes AFTER the execution began, and 10 minutes after the inmate was already dead. Federal prosecutors announced this week they will seek the death penalty against 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing. Many in town cheer the decision. Not me.
In October 2012 I wrote about the pros and cons of death. “Government should not be in the business of killing people. The U.S. system is based on justice, not vengeance. It’s really that simple.” There are many arguments for the death penalty – and Amnesty International dispels them rather easily. Those arguments are not the focus of this blog.
Capital Punishment has been around since mankind and laws intersected. The oft quoted Biblical reference supporting the death penalty comes from the Book of Deuteronomy, 19:21 "And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Taken literally, though, there would be a world of blind, toothless and limbless people.
As a person of the Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian faith tradition – I too look towards to the Bible. While I’m not a liturgical expert (by any means) this quote summarizes my view of God and religion: "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12-13
I’m not so naïve to think that love is the solution to evil, but it’s a good place to start. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in redemption. I believe in people paying for their crimes. I believe in punishment. I believe we’re fallible. And when you kill somebody, there’s no do-over.
Let’s leave issues of life and death to religion – and separate it from the role of Government. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does a good job in outlining that even though in practice it's not so great. Why? Because Government does not have a particularly strong track record of doing things well, let alone executions. There are stories of attempts to kill somebody going awry. One site lists 43 calamities - from limbs catching fire to hours long struggles to find veins. It’s barbaric.
There’s something terribly wrong in a society that is so anxious to kill its citizens – even those who have done awful and horrible acts. Even those who terrorize their fellow citizens. The U.S. once was governed by the Rule of Law – and from the President’s personal Kill List to one branch of government executing citizens before the Judiciary has ruled – we seem to be in an awful rush to kill. Perhaps it would be best if people would hurry up and die already.