Death penalty

by Richard on September 24, 2010

It won’t be a surprise to anyone that I’m an opponent of the death penalty. Judicial murder is wrong.

But even if you believe that capital punishment can be justified, how can a woman of limited intelligence be deemed deserving of execution because she arranged a killing, when those ho actually did the deed were not?

Something stinks.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }


Chris H 09.24.10 at 11:50 am

Whatever angle you look at it there’s something very unhealthy in their judicial system. For the life of me I can’t see what separated the sentence with the three of them.


Tony Buglass 09.24.10 at 12:30 pm

My sentiments exactly. If she deserved to die for setting it up (and I don’t think so), surely they deserved to die for actually pulling the trigger. She may have demonstrated intent, but they not only demonstrated intent but acted upon it.

The death penalty is wrong. This was judicial murder, and it was biassed and unjust. It stinks.


Kim 09.24.10 at 2:52 pm

Capital punishment is a lottery in the US, this (as Camus put it) most premeditated of murders, this killing folk to teach folk that killing folk is wrong.

There is no sustainable utilitarian argument in favour of capital punishment. In fact all the utilitarian arguments speak against capital punishment (unsafe, biased, and arbitrary convictions; non-deterrence - indeed the exacerbation of violence; social brutalisation; etc.) The only reputable argument for capital punishment is the deontological argument from retribution (not revenge). But can the case be made theologically? Only by those who follow Moses rather than Jesus. (Btw, as with war, so the early church too, before Constantine, argued overwhelmingly that Christians in good conscience can have nothing to do with this barbarous practice.)

But no doubt we will now hear our pro-life American friends argue the case for state-sponsored death.


PamBG 09.24.10 at 9:48 pm

I’m opposed to the death penalty too but the inequity between the sentences is heart-breaking. I heard on National Public Radio (which I believe is generally reliable) that there had been evidence presented at her appeal that one of the gunmen had actually incited her to this action as well. If that’s true, then that’s another tragedy.


Beth 09.27.10 at 7:52 pm

So barbarous practices are okay for those benighted Moses-following Jews, but not for you sanctified Christ-huggers, eh, Kim? Bit of respect for your elder brother would be nice…


Kim 09.27.10 at 9:34 pm

It is simply the case, Beth, that the Hebrew scriptures explicitly allow for, indeed command, capital punishment, while the teaching of Jesus, I submit - and certainly arguably - does not. See Matthew 6:38ff. - and the compelling story of the woman taken in adultery (usually found as John 8:1ff.). Of course there are enlightened Jews and benighted Christians who (as it were) cross the House on the issue.


Beth 10.05.10 at 8:23 pm

It’s not quite a simple as that, I don’t think - this isn’t capital punishment as it’s practiced in the U.S. - the BBC has a good, though very simple, article on the subject of capital punishment in Judaism.

Personally, I find an emphasis on life as an unquestionable good, regardless of circumstances, problematic. So does Christianity, in some ways - after all, how can you celebrate martyrs unless you believe that, in some cases, the preservation of life is not the highest moral good?


Richard 10.05.10 at 8:45 pm

That’s a good link - thanks for that, Beth


Beth 10.06.10 at 12:09 pm

No problem. Kim’s undeniably correct that the death penalty as it’s used today is barbarous. Often there is little or no evidence for the crimes that have been committed, or huge numbers of mitigating factors. Jewish law would not execute a person under those circumstances. Traditionally, a court who executed more than one person every seven years (some would claim, more than every seventy years) was considered suspect. It’s always important (as I’m sure you know, but it’s worth making the point) when considering Jewish laws as stated in the OT, that these are almost always subject to limitations by Talmudic law.

Of course, if one disagrees with the very possibility that a human being should be put to death for a crime, then any system, however rigorous in its application of justice and fairness, that allows for judicial killing will be by definition barbarous. I appreciate Kim’s position on that, and to that extent he is correct. But to lump Jewish religious law on the death penalty in with the horrendously unjust and flawed U.S. law would, I think, be a grave mistake. If nothing else, it would suggest that God encouraged his people to partake of a barbarous system of justice.


Kim 10.06.10 at 12:30 pm

But to lump Jewish religious law on the death penalty in with the horrendously unjust and flawed U.S. law would, I think, be a grave mistake. If nothing else, it would suggest that God encouraged his people to partake of a barbarous system of justice.

Agreed. Absolutely.


Beth 10.06.10 at 8:37 pm

Yay! We agree. I’m glad. I always worry I’m going badly wrong when we don’t.

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