Lex talionis… in Ohio

A CBS story reports that in Ohio a man was executed today for killing a "motorist who gave him a ride and shooting two others during a three-week string of shootings that terrorized the Cincinnati area in 1983."

Excerpts from the story:

Michael Beuke, 48, died by lethal injection at 10:53 a.m. EDT at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, about 90 minutes after the Ohio Supreme Court turned down his final appeal.

He spent an emotional 24 hours before his death crying, playing music on a portable keyboard and consulting with his spiritual advisers, to whom the prison released his body.

[...]

While on the gurney, Beuke looked directly at Craig’s widow, Susan, and at the son and daughter of Wahoff and apologized for all three shootings: "Mrs. Wahoff, I am sorry. Mrs. Craig, I am sorry. Mr. Graham, I am sorry."

Graham’s family sent no witnesses.

After the apology, he recited the Roman Catholic rosary and other prayers for 17 minutes before he died, choking back tears as he repeatedly said the Hail Mary with rosary beads in one hand. It was the longest final statement by a condemned Ohio inmate in memory. One of his spiritual advisers, Bishop R. Dann Conlon, sniffled and blew his nose throughout.

Beuke, dubbed by the media as the "homicidal hitchhiker," spent a quarter century on death row, where he said he had a spiritual conversion. He expressed remorse for his crimes and said in an unsuccessful request for clemency that he accepted responsibility and prayed "that God will ease the pain I have caused my victims."

Susan Craig said she was unsatisfied with his remorse.

"It’s like I tell my kids: ‘Sorry doesn’t cut it; you did it,’" Craig said after the execution. Her 27-year-old son Bob, named for a father he never knew, accompanied her to the prison but did not witness the execution. He called the day "surreal."

Dawn Wahoff, whose father was shot and paralyzed for life by Beuke, said she felt she could finally look to the future and felt "a sense of closure."

"I feel I can move on," she said. Her father died four years ago.

[...]

Lex talionis.

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64 Responses to Lex talionis… in Ohio

  1. “Sorry doesn’t cut it; you did it.”

    That’s not too far from what I tell my children: “Sorry doesn’t cut it; you have to fix it.”

    I’m not so sure lex talionis is the best way to describe this. How about penance and reparation? Is society handing out retribution, or an opportunity for Michael Beuke to make the ultimate reparation for his sins? This isn’t, after all, a sad end to this man’s life. Deo gratias, he converted, and I’d like to think he died in the embrace of God’s love.

  2. Roland de Chanson says:

    Absque lege talionis, regeremur lege ultionis.

  3. Paul H says:

    What terrible tragedies the victims and their families have experienced.

    But to die praying the rosary…. Please God grant me abundant grace and mercy when my hour comes, as it appears you have granted to this man.

  4. Mr Flapatap says:

    The anger and sense that nothing changed shown by victims’ relatives after executions were the turning point for me from pro to
    against the death penalty.

  5. EnoughRope says:

    I don’t get the lex talionis remark. Are we supposed to be glad a man is dead?

  6. zama202 says:

    At least he won’t kill anyone else or destroy more families. Thank you Ohio.

  7. aladextra says:

    Contrary to Mr. Flaptrap, I have been a squish on the death penalty lately, and this story made me firm up in my support. The point of the penalty is to serve the virtue of justice. Sometimes justice is served by no other remedy, as Justice Scalia has most succinctly written. Salvation of souls is the highest law. Has this execution served in that end? Sounds like it has. I will pray for the repose of the soul of this killer. Sounds like he had a holy death. At the end of our lives, this is the best we can hope for.

  8. Robert says:

    Well, we can pray for Michael Beuke’s soul and that he may find peace in Heaven.

    And we can join with Beuke’s last prayer that God will ease the hurt of Beuke’s victims. I hope and pray that all his victims will forgive Beuke for their own sake.

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    I offer my prayers for Mr. Beuke through the intercession of St. Dismas.

  10. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    ‘Sorry doesn’t cut it; you did it,’

    True, but I think the point here is that this man was more than just saying sorry. He was willing to make amends, spent 25 years in prison, and my guess is, would not have been upset if his sentence was commuted, even to a life one, in lieu of an execution. Its not like he killed yesterday and said oops today. He sat on death row for over half of his life (article lists him as being 48, and spent “a quarter century” on death row)

    I am abhorred by such blanket support of the death penalty. While realizing that Catholics can support it in good conscience, I wonder how so many people are willing to pass ultimate judgment on their neighbors. It isn’t like life without parole is candy and sunshine, that is a serious sentence, and not counting the eternal punishment/salvation aspect of dying, I would say withering away in prison is far worse than spending 25 years then dying (I don’t count Heaven/Hell because they are going either way, and whats more, since we should be more concerned for the salvation of souls rather than the punishment of neighbors, we should want to keep them alive, and keep offering them chances to repent).

    The death penalty in this country serves no significant purpose, either in deterring crime, or of some concept of “ultimate punishment”. Its use should be reserved to only the most heinous crimes (Bin Laden for example), and even then, I have some reservations about its use.

    As an additional note, Bishop Conlon is the bishop of Steubenville, and having had the chance to meet and talk with him, he is a great man and a wonderful Shepard.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    “The death penalty in this country serves no significant purpose, either in deterring crime, or of some concept of “ultimate punishment”. Its use should be reserved to only the most heinous crimes (Bin Laden for example), and even then, I have some reservations about its use.”

    As does Holy Mother Church!

    It sickens me to know a fellow human being has been put to death, whether “legally” or otherwise.

    This story reminds me of the words of Christ: “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). Laudetur Iesus Christus!

  12. TC says:

    I’m not automatically against the death penalty.
    But I do wonder about the supposed sense of “closure” brought about by the murderer’s execution. It seems to me that the survivors must be nursing their hurt until that day (in this case 24 years) so that every appeal and delay is salt rubbed into the wound.
    And then what? What if they find the long-awaited closure is meaningless?
    “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us . . .”
    Much harder, but ultimately more liberating.

  13. AnAmericanMother says:

    I agree that the death penalty should be rare, but sometimes it is regrettably necessary (as the Church notes).

    There are two main reasons that the death penalty is necessary for incorrigible or “mad dog” killers. The first is to prevent the possibility of escape. Carl Isaacs, perhaps the most evil man ever to sit on Georgia’s Death Row, incessantly plotted to escape. He almost succeeded — three times. He boasted to reporters that he killed his victims, that he enjoyed it, and that he would kill again if given the chance. He almost got the chance three times, and once would be too many.

    The second is to prevent prison guards and employees from being murdered or grievously wounded. A prison librarian was raped and strangled in her office by a “lifer” during the period when there was no death penalty to act as a deterrent (after Gregg v. Georgia in 1974 and before a statute passed constitutional muster).

    I’m in the business, so I have seen many “jailhouse conversions” that are simply cynical window-dressing for commutation and parole. Once commutation or parole is denied, the judge and the Board get obscene abuse and threats from prisoners who claimed they had ‘seen the light’ in prison. Authentic conversion is more likely to occur when punishment (whether sentence for a term of years or death) is certain, because that removes the invidious or self-serving motive to claim a nonexistent conversion.

    With that said, I will pray for the soul of this unfortunate man.

  14. Jason C. says:

    If you’ve never read it, Dostoevsky’s “The House of the Dead” is a great novel set in prison.

  15. Sursum Corda says:

    Look up what Saint Thomas Aquinas had to say about “retributive justice”, and the role of legitimate government in enforcing same. The problem in the Catholic Church on the role of Capital Punishment would seem to be a matter of a disconnect from traditional Catholic teaching. Personally, I am glad that this person may have found his way to God. It does not lift from him or the state, the requirements of Retributive Justice.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3108.htm

    God bless,
    Sursum Corda

  16. Patrick50 says:

    I will be praying for his soul. This is something i did not hear on the local news here in Ohio. Truly this man has realizes and is sorry for what he has done.

  17. I always find it ironic that people who consider themselves ‘conservative’ excoriate o this progressives (quite rightly) for thier penchant for appealing to ‘conscience’ in denying church teaching but then lightly do so themselves with regard to this particular issue.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church does state, in para 2267, “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”

    However, it adds (echoing Evangelium Vitae): “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 non-existent.’”

    So, while it is possible to support the death penalty in good conscience *when it is absolutely necessary*, that conscience must be well formed — and the CCC, which is “a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (according to Fidei Depositum) sets an extremely high standard for this absolute necessity.

    Something to think about before lightly aligning ones conscience with a prevailing political ideology over against the relatively clear thrust of the church’s teachings on human life.

  18. EXCHIEF says:

    I can only reflect on my days as a street cop in Los Angeles when, during the period in which California had no death penalty, more than one murderer told me that had there been a death penalty they wouldn’t have commited the crime. Having said that I think there is, consistent with Catholic teaching, room to support capital punishment just as there is room to support just wars.

  19. Actually, the death penalty is an expression of respect for the sanctity of human life. The death penalty is prescribed for first-degree murder precisely because the wrongful taking of human life is so heinous.

    Is it a coincidence that there is so much support in the world for abortion, euthanasia and contraceptives on the one hand, and so much opposition to capital punishment on the other? It is true that principled Christians can legitimately oppose capital punishment; but when capital punishment is opposed by the same people who believe in a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn baby, or the “right” to put the elderly or the sick “out of their misery,” something other than principle is at work.

  20. “so much opposition to capital punishment”???

    A 2007 Gallup poll (http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/opinion.htm) indicated that 69% of people answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?”

    So, contrary to the above claim, the same modern western, post-christian culture of death that supports abortion and euthanasia supports capital punishment.

    While that is an interesting fact, it is not really relevant — it is an ad hominem argument. It does not matter how many people support or oppose it, but whether (and in what cases) it is morally correct — something that is within the church’s authority to determine.

    I agree, though, that there is no ‘coincidence’…the fact that our nation is divided into two opposed political ideologies, both of which claim opposite parts of the church’s teachings on human life while rejecting the others is not happenstance.

    It is a clear example of the Enemy putting us into a lose-lose situation where, no matter which ideology we pick we align ourselves against Christ and his Church.

    So my take, don’t pick one — vote the Gospel.

  21. padredana says:

    Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. ‘But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” (Mt. 5:38-39a) St. Paul said in Romans, “Vengence is mine, says the Lord.”Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Romans 12:19. We, as Catholics, should live the gospel radically, with our whole hearts; we should take Jesus at His word and forgive rather than seek revenge.

    Is there a place for capital punishment? Surely. Is that place the United States today? I can see no argument that would say it is. And for those quoting St. Thomas on this topic, I would remind you that St. Thomas is not the Magisterium of the Church. We must also remember that he wrote within a particular culture that was much different than ours. I, for may part, will trust the Church and the Holy Father over St. Thomas.

    I, like someone has already said, pray that I will have as happy a death as this man had. I hope an pray that I will be assisted by God’s minister, with prayer on my lips and a rosary in my hand.

    For those Catholics who supported this. Shame on you.

  22. boko fittleworth says:

    The dog’s breakfast of historical inaccuracy, (im)prudential judgment, and non-sequiturs that is the CCC’s treatment of capital punishment is, I believe, an example of the Holy Spirit refusing to allow the Magisterium to teach error, however much our betters may have tried to do so in this case.

  23. AndyMo says:

    I, too, am disgusted by the bloodlust being disguised as justice. Of course there are circumstances that necessitate the death penalty. This is obviously not one of them. May God have mercy on his soul.

  24. Jason C. says:

    I can only reflect on my days as a street cop in Los Angeles when, during the period in which California had no death penalty, more than one murderer told me that had there been a death penalty they wouldn’t have commited the crime.

    I don’t buy that. Is it true in some cases? Maybe. But I don’t think most people think about such things. Or if they do think about them, it’s theoretically. Though murder is sometimes a psychologically calculated act, it is probably more often an act of passion, or an act of an ingrained lifestyle of violence, etc. I believe in hell, and yet I have done things in my life knowing that I would go to hell for doing those things. Why? Because, for me, the threat was distant and not immediately tangible. As Shakespeare says of lust: “Past reason hunted, and no sooner had / Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait.” Sin is rarely a reasoned act. Just because someone has committed a murder doesn’t mean they have somehow ceased to be human. I have had sinful urges in my life that would probably shock the people who know me well. Yet I am considered a “good person.” Am I capable of murder? Absolutely. Are there some murderers who have serious psychological issues? Of course. But most murderers are not psychopaths. We have criminalized sin…we have turned sinners into “criminals,” thereby separating “them” from “us.” As I believe Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, the only thing that separates them from us is that they were caught.

  25. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    The Catechism does indeed say that “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent,’” but this statement is qualified.

    2267: 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 non-existent.”

    The fact is that there are many jurisdictions where this possibility does not exist. Until it does so, I will continue to vote with the Gospel and so support Capital Punishment for the protection of innocents while working for laws that will truly render one incapable of doing harm.

    Regarding the lex talionis: The particular problem with this article is not whether Mr. Beuke should have been executed—I do not know the case or the laws of Ohio well enough to make that judgment. The true problem is the response of the victims who refuse to forgive or comfort Mr. Beuke. Mr. Beuke’s offense was not primarily against the relatives of the victims, or even the victims themselves, but against our society and ultimately against God.

    God has given the state the power of sword as St Paul states: “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). And even the Good Thief recognized the justice of his punishment: “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40–41).

    To state this is not to sanction revenge, it is not blood lust, and no shame is deserved.

    To live the Gospel radically is to accept justice with humility, as the Good Thief did, in recognition of our own sinfulness, and so to seek justice when it is within our authority for the sake of God.

    Again, I do not know whether true justice was served in this case, but I do know that there is no excuse for the attitudes of the relatives of the victims.

  26. padredana says:

    Name one jurisdiction in the United States where the execution of an offender is an absolute necessity. It does not exist, at least not today. To vote with the Gospel is not to support Capital Punishment, to vote with the Gospel is to oppose it, at least that’s what the Church says. And she, and only she, is the authentic interpreter of the Gospel.

    Surely, the good thief did indeed recieve the just reward of his crimes. And we, if were were judged for our sins, would deserve the same (the wages of sin is death) but God has chosen to have mercy on us. Should we not do the same? It is always better to err on the side of mercy than not.

  27. TJerome says:

    In the US, the death penalty is legal for a child in the womb, the most innocent form of life. It’s called legal abortion. I just can’t get too worked up about a person who viciously, knowingly, and willfully murders another human being. I truly don’t understand the “attitudes” of those who cannot protest an innocent child in the womb being destroyed as a “choice” but who carry on and sob about a hardened criminal who murders a life and destroys the family and friends of the victim. Then we are supposed to light candles and sing “Kumbaya” outside of prison for that vermin.

  28. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    Father:

    I completely agree with you about mercy. However, with respect (sincerely), the Church to this day defends the legitimacy of the capital punishment, while qualifying its application to those cases where the state cannot in any other way render the person incapable of doing further harm (CCC 2267). In our system this most likely means life without parole. Alaska has no life without parole, and in some jurisdictions where life without parole exists it is easily commutable.

    In the interest of justice, which cannot be separated from mercy as the very death our Lord attests, life without parole should replace all instances where capital punishment could legitimately be applied.

  29. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    I pray for his soul. I pray for the families of the victims, that they may find true “closure” with their God, Christian or otherwise. Thank you for sharing, Father. A very emotional story. While I am a proponent of the death penalty (only in the most necessary and absolute cases), this man’s current faith alone is something we should all hope to imitate.

  30. The Cobbler says:

    I don’t know enough either way to press a case on the matter, but I feel I should point out that from the info presented here the victims’ relatives may be quoted out of context — the one might be saying “doesn’t cut it” not to the remorse per se but to the matter of justice being abridgable by forgiveness (even JP2 maintained it is not), and the other might have a “sense of closure” because they can finally walk away from the court cases. Do condemn hatred and unforgiveness, just keep in mind how hard it is to genuinely tell whether someone, especially someone we have only second-hand knowledge of (and from a source that only knows them as a news story at that!), is actually hateful and unforgiving under whatever impression we get.

  31. I agree that in principle the state has the right to impose capital punishment. This has been the consistent moral teaching of the Church for millennia. It is in the Catechism. But I also agree, as stated in the Catechism and by Pope JP2 in Evangelium Vitae, that is NOT an absolute right. Like the Just War doctrine which imposes strict requirements for a moral use of war, so, too, there are strict requirements for the moral use of the death penalty. I also agree with the prudential judgment of Pope John Paul II that in our current situation, especially here in the USA, it does not seem apparent that capital punishment is necessary in our time and place.

    My younger brother (by two years), Joseph, was killed by an underage drunk driver on July 5th, 1997. Three blocks from my parents home. A nineteen year old was speeding through a residential area running traffic lights and stop signs while another motorist chased him (because he had swerved him off the road earlier).

    The young man who killed him was from out of town and his dad hired a very expensive lawyer from Pittsburgh. We had a junior assistant district attorney on our side. Needless to say, money talks and a judge suppressed impeccable evidence that the accused was more than 3 times the legal limit for intoxication. A miniscule legal technicality on the search warrant was blown out of context so that the blood test done by the admitting hospital was rejected. Not thrown out for shoddy work but on a legal technicality. A misspelled word or name.

    Justice delayed is justice denied. My family waited over four years just to see a pathetic plea bargain. My father was so overwhelmed with grief and sadness that he died only six months after my brother was killed. Dad had been battling leukemia for several years and done so successfully until Joe died. Many false starts at a trial, many broken promises and lots of ineptitude in our legal system accomplished nothing. The accused spent no time in jail, paid no fine and did not even get his driver’s license revoked or suspended. The irony is that the underage drunk driver is now the same age (33) as was my brother Joe when he struck his car.

    Of course the death penalty would not have applied here. My family knew it was not intentional, hence this was not first degree murder. At the same time, it was not merely involuntary manslaughter since the accused willingly drank underage and deliberately drove a motor vehicle while intoxicated. None of my family sought a vendetta. We did not want revenge. We did want justice so that others would be deterred from DUI or DWI. Drunk Driving and road rage are bad enough alone but combined are even more lethal than by themselves. But justice was not found in our case. This is why I have little confidence in our ‘illustrious’ legal system. True, better than what is found in socialist and communist countries. Still, there is too much influence on a trial by having the ‘right’ lawyer. That is why I am concerned when a poor person commits murder and when a rich and/or celebrity commits murder. Depending on what state you commit the crime determines if the death penalty is even an option. How can that be fair since geography does not increase or decrease the value of an innocent human life nor does it intensify or diminish the heinousness of murder. Being able to afford the best lawyers certainly helps. When was the last time the media reported a famous celebrity found guilty of murder being executed? At the same time, I would have moral pause to withhold capital punishment on anyone found guilty of terrorism where a large number of innocent lives were ruthlessly killed. I would be hard pressed to exempt an Al Qaeda criminal found directly responsible for 9-11. Terrorism threatens the common good of all citizens and is a grave evil. At the same time, one does not have to be serial killer to be considered a threat to society. The question remains that in some if not many cases, is capital punishment truly the last resort? What is wrong with LIFE SENTENCE WITH NO PAROLE? Why make some prisons look like country clubs where there is television, sports equipment, library, social rooms, internet, etc. These are fine for non-violent and non-lethal criminals in the pursuit of true rehabilitation. Yet, our prison system is not only that, it is also penal. Punishment for crime as well as being a corrective institution.

    I know there are no easy answers and there are always legitimate exceptions to prudential judgments. While supporting in theory the state’s right to impose the death penalty, I have seen too well that our court system is flawed enough to question whether or not justice is always truly sought let alone always achieved. Due to these doubts when power and money can tip the scales in your favor, the disadvantaged and even the common middle-class citizen like my brother, is not given equal treatment. Lex talionis is not part of our Christian morality but some form of equitable justice is where all the innocent and all the guilty are treated the same regardless of their wealth, power, celebrity status or connections.

  32. moon1234 says:

    I find no solice in the murder of another person in this day and age. In the United States so called “Capital Punishment” is simply revenge and outright murder. This man, while he committed horrendous acts of violence was no threat to anyone. He was in jail and from all accounts had made a conversion in his life.

    Shame on all of those commenters who would dare to suggest that this was a just punishment. They violate the very spirit of the Catholic faith and it’s catechism. I would be ashamed to have people who hold such views as frieds.

    In your line of thought Christ should have destroyed the world for putting him to death. He did not, he showed mercy on all of US.

    Remember your catechism “You may never commit evil to bring about a good.” This was not justice, it was simply murder for murder.

    Lex talionis indeed.

  33. Phil_NL says:

    It should not be forgottten that there is a guilt to society to be redeemed as well to the victims after such artrocious crimes. Even if the person poses no future threat, justice requires punishment in retribution for the offenses against the victims and their relatives. While they may be forgiving (or not), the state ultimately has to take into account the guilt against society as well: the general shock to justice and the possibility that being lenient will encourage more crime by others.

    So no, even if this person was no more threat, even if he repented and receieved absolution, those factors in itself are not enough reason not to carry out a sentence, lest the state be negligent in its duty to protect the citizens. I would not presume to judge on the merits of this particular case, but in general the execution of a repentant killer can be justified. In our imperfect world meekness will not always cut it, especially if the state exhibits it.

  34. mpolo says:

    Maybe I’ve lived in Europe too long, where the immorality of the death penalty in modern societies is taken as a given, but it is shocking to me how many people here of all places can so ignore the Catechism and an Encyclical Letter — authentic teaching of the Successor of Peter. I don’t know of any jurisdictions in the developed world where the state is incapable of making an evil-doer harmless by incarcerating him. The Pope, the vicar of Christ on earth, has repeatedly said that causes for capital punishment are “very rare, if not practically non-existent”. It seems that most Americans believe that “very rare” means “as much as we want in America, but we better stop the Chinese and the Arab world, because they’re out of control”.

  35. Michaelus says:

    Who was it that said “in America even the Catholics are Calvinists”? If you believe Michael Beuke was,is and always will be a murderer you are a Calvinist. If you manage to notice that Michael Beuke was a man, a tormented sinner, a child of God and capable of receiving grace and redemption (just like you and me) you just might be on to something….

  36. Grabski says:

    How can having state employees kill someone be justice for another killing someone?

    Our governments are teetering on illegitimacy, yet we allow them to kill.

    It’s not right, b/c it’s not necessary to protect society. Clearly, this man was not a threat to anyone – except the state employees who were duty bound to kill him.

  37. MikeM says:

    I don’t have a moral problem with the death penalty, per se… though, having lived in Illinois when 60% of the peole on death row were found to be innocent, I’m kind of skeptical of trusting the state with such decisions.

    I also object to the whole idea of “sorry doesn’t cut it.” On the one hand, we can’t base our whole justice system on the distant hope that someone who’s killed multiple times is just going to suddenly turn from their wickedness, but on the other, as long as people are alive, there should be the possibility of reconciliation with society… How can we accept a system that can offer no forgiveness after 25 years? People can change radically in much less time than that.

  38. JonM says:

    I oppose capital punishment in America, but not due to it being ‘intrinsically evil,’ which the death penalty is not. Rather, I oppose it because a large number of people convicted in our dysfunctional system are not guilty.

    This is a broader problem of addressing crime; I don’t believe correctional institutes (prisons) are very good at rehabilitating prisoners. Different issue though.

    Pope John Paul II’s teaching must be weighed in light of the tradition of the Church, which certainly has allowed the death penalty. I think his opinion presupposes factors that are assumed but maybe not practically apparent.

    The notion that correctional facilities actually morally right people is questionable, particularly in secularist societies.

    I think there is a disconnect in thinking that a person who commits a string of murders and rapes should not be executed, but a poor ignorant villager fighting in a war against us does warrant death.

    With this in mind, I agree that particularly in America, the death penalty comes with a Calvinist ideology that the guilty ‘was a bad seed’ or that revenge is virtuously accomplished through the death penalty.

    I like the reference to the Good Thief. I think it applies well in this case.

  39. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    The Cobbler,

    regarding the possibility of the family members’ quotes being taken out of context, that is possible, but on the other hand, I live in Florida, which ranks second only to Texas in the number of executions performed, so our news covers a lot of them. And I can attest to the fact that afterwards, I have seen family members of the victims smiling and almost giddy at the fact that a man has just died. “He got what he deserved” is another common statement (which seems to indicate we are of proper authority to judge him). On the other hand, on the times were the interview the executed’s family, they are nearly always in tears. People forget that just because the person committed a crime, doesn’t mean there aren’t people who love them. They are still someone’s child, someones sibling, maybe a spouse or a mother or father.

    If you were to do an analysis, most people on death row probably killed one person. It was most likely planned (crimes of passion usually do not get recommended for death). It was likely over some grievance (not often do people kill for the fun of it). So the idea that these people on death row, as a whole, are just evil people who are constantly trying to do evil things is just ridiculous. Most of them are people who messed up once, and whether or not they are willing to admit they messed up, the likelihood that they would commit murder again is fairly low

  40. medievalist says:

    I know nothing of the man, but the fact that Bishop Conlon attended to even the least of his flock in his hour of need speaks volumes about his fidelity to his office.

  41. Liz F says:

    I can’t imagine the pain of the victims’ families. (Forgiveness must be a hard struggle in this case, but God’s grace is surely there ready to be used.) I will definitely pray for the victims’ souls too, but part of this seems like something to be really joyful about. One has come to the fold and had the grace of a happy death; isn’t that what we all want? We want to be forgiven for our sins and to share with God his everlasting happiness in heaven. It really brings home the idea that God is both just AND merciful. It’s nice that we have example like Maria Goretti’s mother and St. Therese as reminders of what can be. That bishop seems to be taking the “care of souls” very seriously, God bless him! (After reading some of the things about the Holy Father, on this blog, it makes me realize we are not praying for him, our bishops, and priests near enough.)

  42. Jordanes says:

    Grabski said: How can having state employees kill someone be justice for another killing someone?

    Ask St. Paul the Apostle.

    Our governments are teetering on illegitimacy, yet we allow them to kill.

    No, human government is a divine institution, and it is from God that they receive authority to execute justice, even to the point of capital punishment.

    It’s not right, b/c it’s not necessary to protect society.

    The death penalty is not exclusively, nor even primarily, about “protecting society,” but ensuring that justice is done.

    MikeM said: Illinois when 60% of the peole on death row were found to be innocent

    Not that many were “found to be innocent.” That statistic refers to Illinois death penalty cases that have been reversed from 1818 until the present, and it includes not only the small number of cases where someone was shown to not have committed the murder he was wrongly accused of, but ALL cases in which an appellate court rescinded the death penalty due to a procedural error at trial — most of those cases did not result in a reversal of the murder conviction, just the cancellation of the murderer’s death sentence.

  43. Phil says:

    Sadly I didn’t have the time to read everyone’s comments, but if I may take a few minutes to explain why I support the death penalty in a theoretical manner–ergo I am ignoring arguments that whatever percent of persons on death row are there unjustly; that has little effect on the validity of the application of the death penalty itself.

    Firstly, I tend to agree with Aristotle (against Church teaching I grant) that when a person commits such a heinous crime the individual yields his humanity and becomes no more than an animal. However, this is not what I wish to focus on.

    JPII was right: is first-world countries there should be little need for the death penalty. In a system such as our own we ought to be able to incarcerate prisoners for life (and at less expense). However, I personally believe that in a justice system such as the one in the United States where prisoners cop out on “temporary insanity” pleas and get out on parole for “good behavior” and then return to prison for violent offenses at an 80%-plus rate that the State has the right to execute those prisoners for the safety of the public since the system itself places the public in jeopardy.

    When criminals are put away for life (their actual life) with no chance of getting out ever and under no circumstances, on that day I will cease my support of the death penalty.

  44. Grabski says:

    Jordanes Justice is mine alone, says the Lord

  45. AndyMo says:

    I would argue that, following JPII’s reasoning, the only circumstance in which it is necessary to execute someone is if that person will simply kill people in prison. I have confidence that our prisons can effectively incarcerate criminals for life, which all but eliminates the necessity of the death penalty.

    Other than that, the death penalty, like war, should be seen as a failure of the system, not a victory. To see it celebrated so like many commenters here makes me ill.

  46. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Bishop Conlon was brave in the exercise of his ministry. I hope he also took the time to minister to the families of the victims.

  47. Dubya Ay-See says:

    1. The principle of retributive justice cannot be ignored. The state acts as God’s agent in the punishment of criminals in all cases, from fines to executions.

    2. There is a need for the death penalty to protect society in America today (beyond the aberrant Willie Horton debacle.) The death penalty is of particular use in keeping order and protecting the part of society everyone seems to forget about: prisons. Murder in prison is common, and a death penalty is the only logical and effective punishment for someone who, while serving a life sentence, kills a fellow inmate. I would be reluctant to remove that particular application from the State’s tool box.

    3. No one should every be happy, or even satisfied, with the execution of a criminal, even if it is just and moral. Sometimes, just and moral shouldn’t feel good. We should weep that it has come to this.

    4. Some have said, and I can see the point, that the condemned are given the special grace of foreknowing, with reasonable certainty, the exact time of their demise, thus affording them and opportunity denied to most of us by way of setting the hour by which they must be reconciled with God.

  48. Nerinab says:

    AndyMo,

    I don’t really see where people are “celebrating” the death penalty on this thread. I DO see many people trying to make sense of the Church’s teaching and the reality of having unrepentant, heartless killers in our midst. Plus, very real risks continue to exist with prisoners in jail. Not only do murders occur within prison walls, but inmates have been known to orchestrate killings with outside help. It is a reality we cannot ignore. Further, I’d be interested in a discussion that looks at the conditions of imprisonment and whether or not the dignity of the human person is being respected. This does not mean that I support inmates working out all day or watching TV or playing basketball. But it does mean that caging people up and placing them under the supervision of some equally brutal guards makes it unlikely that any will be “reformed” anytime soon. Of course, I am probably painting with a very broad brush and invoking a caricature, but my worst nightmare is for me or one of my kids to end up behind bars. I can’t even imagine.

    As for this story, I see it as one of hope, actually. I am thankful for this man’s conversion and it is the reason I am against the death penalty – because once executed, a person has no chance of repentance. I’d like to give everyone a chance at receiving the Mercy of God even if I find their past actions despicable. I worry, too, about the victims’ families. I hope they are able to find forgiveness and the peace of Christ.

  49. Traductora says:

    I think the death penalty was justified and he was obviously prepared for it. It was quite possibly the knowledge that it was going to happen that brought about his conversion, and it is his conversion that is the most important thing.

    That said, I think the people whose attitudes and understanding need work are the families of the victims. It doesn’t look as if any of them forgave them, even though he asked their forgiveness and was prepared to accept his punishment. Partly I think this is media-manipulated; they feel they share the victim status, and forgiving him rather than clutching and even brandishing their anger would make them less victims and hence less noble in the eyes of the media.

  50. Nerinab says:

    And just to throw out a number to consider (mpolo claims above that Americans define “very rare” as “much as we want in America), there have been 1206 state executions since 1976. That works out to 27 executions per year. Again, I am not arguing for the death penalty, but clearly we are not executing people willy-nilly.

  51. A 2007 Gallup poll (http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/opinion.htm) indicated that 69% of people answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?”

    So, contrary to the above claim, the same modern western, post-christian culture of death that supports abortion and euthanasia supports capital punishment.

    I was not just talking about the United States. If you read what I said carefully, you will see that I was talking about the world. How many Western nations still have capital punishment?

    There’s an awful lot of imprecise thinking about capital punishment. In and of itself, capital punishment is not morally equivalent to murder. Take a good look at Romans 13:1-7.

  52. Eric says:

    If the execution of a murderer is not justice then nothing is.

  53. JMody says:

    This story and the comments inspire three reactions in me. Please allow me to opine at length.
    First, after committing a heinous crime and receiving the ultimate punishment, this man appears to have genuinely repented – in other words, to the greatest extent possible, JUSTICE WAS DONE in a way that deserves celebration. Not celebration that he was put to death, but celebration that his soul might be saved, for as all but 15 years of the Church’s Tradition teaches us, accepting one’s punishment expiates the sin.
    Second, pity the poor family members who cannot see that this is all the justice of which man is capable. Their predicament is caused by the murder, and so that is part of the damage the killer did and why he earned his penalty. Pray for them.
    Third, the comments here dredge up what I think is a significant, calamitous, error in the catechism of 1997 and a catastrophic collapse in the ability to think (no doubt aided by the shunning of Scholasticism), to wit: if we read the words of the 1997 catechism, there is this strange qualifier about necessity and means – again, para. 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 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.”
    Read carefully the first paragraph – it is incorrect. The traditional teaching does not say that execution is allowed if this is the only means to defend. It teaches that the punishment must fit the crime, and supreme crimes call for supreme punishments. See what people like Ss Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Pius V, and Popes like Pius II, Innocent III, have said.
    The second paragraph says that the state will be as merciful as possible in very trite language – no problem there, and 27 executions per year as cited above will certainly indicate that some amount of merciful pause is present in the system. I would question the laden phrase “in keeping with the common good” as inspired by leftism, but that’s a different rant – we are here talking about specific justice for specific crimes, not the commonweal, save as it is affected by justice, or a lack thereof.
    The third paragraph is absolutely, positively abhorrent – what this says is that if your wealthy country has the means to incarcerate forever and my poor country does not, then, for the same crime, I can execute and you cannot. This is setting a punishment based on something other than the crime. This says that the morality of TAKING A LIFE is determined by WEALTH and not by consideration for temporal and divine law and justice — in otherwise identical circumstances, poor people can take a life and wealthier ones cannot? Excuse me?!?! Killing a murderer by execution as punishment for his crime is either wrong or it is right – and that is based on the facts of the case, not the wealth of the state. We should be DEMANDING that this paragraph be stricken and re-written.
    Look also at the part about “taking away the possibility of redeeming himself” line – this has almost no basis in actual experience. Life in prisons tends to drive one to repentance? How many “life-w/o-parole” prisoners are crying in sorrow for their crime and reciting full rosaries every evening, and how many are still selling drugs, directing crime, engaged in debauchery, and otherwise helping to spread hell on Earth? Whereas this man, confronted with the absolute end of his Earthly life, did what? He seems to have truly repented. Karla Tucker in Texas, same thing – never thought much about God or the next life, until she was sentenced to death. And she repented and embraced her punishment as true justice.
    Someone here has posted that “the same culture of death that supports abortion” supports capital punishment – I say Balderdash! What possible comparison can you responsibly make to equate the two? Aborting kills for convenience, says that this person is really no more than a planter’s wart. Execution says that what that person did is SO wrong that we are going to take EVEN HIS LIFE from him – we recognize the life, even the life of a heinous killer, as something precious.
    Please, please, please people – consider this in the light of all tradition, not just the last 15 years. Consider what EVERY Pope has said, not just the most recent one AT THE EXPENSE OF all the others. As for the Catechism, when Popes and doctors and theologians over centuries say one thing and this puts a very significant twist to it, I think AN INFORMED CONSCIENCE has to regard this with extreme caution.

  54. JMody says:

    This story and the comments inspire three reactions in me. Please allow me to opine at length.

    First, after committing a heinous crime and receiving the ultimate punishment, this man appears to have genuinely repented – in other words, to the greatest extent possible, JUSTICE WAS DONE in a way that deserves celebration. Not celebration that he was put to death, but celebration that his soul might be saved, for as all but 15 years of the Church’s Tradition teaches us, accepting one’s punishment expiates the sin.
    Second, pity the poor family members who cannot see that this is all the justice of which man is capable. Their predicament is caused by the murder, and so that is part of the damage the killer did and why he earned his penalty. Pray for them.
    Third, the comments here dredge up what I think is a significant, calamitous, error in the catechism of 1997 and a catastrophic collapse in the ability to think (no doubt aided by the shunning of Scholasticism), to wit: if we read the words of the 1997 catechism, there is this strange qualifier about necessity and means – again, para. 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 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.”"

    Read carefully the first paragraph – it is incorrect. The traditional teaching does not say that execution is allowed if this is the only means to defend. It teaches that the punishment must fit the crime, and supreme crimes call for supreme punishments. See what people like Ss Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Pius V, and Popes like Pius II, Innocent III, have said.
    The second paragraph says that the state will be as merciful as possible in very trite language – no problem there, and 27 executions per year as cited above will certainly indicate that some amount of merciful pause is present in the system. I would question the laden phrase “in keeping with the common good” as inspired by leftism, but that’s a different rant – we are here talking about specific justice for specific crimes, not the commonweal, save as it is affected by justice, or a lack thereof.
    The third paragraph is absolutely, positively abhorrent – what this says is that if your wealthy country has the means to incarcerate forever and my poor country does not, then, for the same crime, I can execute and you cannot. This is setting a punishment based on something other than the crime. This says that the morality of TAKING A LIFE is determined by WEALTH and not by consideration for temporal and divine law and justice — in otherwise identical circumstances, poor people can take a life and wealthier ones cannot? Excuse me?!?! Killing a murderer by execution as punishment for his crime is either wrong or it is right – and that is based on the facts of the case, not the wealth of the state. We should be DEMANDING that this paragraph be stricken and re-written.
    Look also at the part about “taking away the possibility of redeeming himself” line – this has almost no basis in actual experience. Life in prisons tends to drive one to repentance? How many “life-w/o-parole” prisoners are crying in sorrow for their crime and reciting full rosaries every evening, and how many are still selling drugs, directing crime, engaged in debauchery, and otherwise helping to spread hell on Earth? Whereas this man, confronted with the absolute end of his Earthly life, did what? He seems to have truly repented. Karla Tucker in Texas, same thing – never thought much about God or the next life, until she was sentenced to death. And she repented and embraced her punishment as true justice.
    Someone here has posted that “the same culture of death that supports abortion” supports capital punishment – I say Balderdash! What possible comparison can you responsibly make to equate the two? Aborting kills for convenience, says that this person is really no more than a planter’s wart. Execution says that what that person did is SO wrong that we are going to take EVEN HIS LIFE from him – we recognize the life, even the life of a heinous killer, as something precious.
    Please, please, please people – consider this in the light of all tradition, not just the last 15 years. Consider what EVERY Pope has said, not just the most recent one AT THE EXPENSE OF all the others. As for the Catechism, when Popes and doctors and theologians over centuries say one thing and this puts a very significant twist to it, I think AN INFORMED CONSCIENCE has to regard this with extreme caution.

  55. Ligusticus says:

    Exemplo quodcumque malo committitur, ipsi Displicet auctori. Prima est haec ultio, quod se Judice nemo nocens absolvitur.

    Juvenal , Satires (XIII, 1)

  56. MichaelJ says:

    For some inexplicable reason, God has chosen man to be the instruments of His Will. He certainly could have whisked the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and instantly plopped them down right in the Promised Land. Yet, He chose not to. Instead, he chose a man to do his bidding. Why, I won’t even pretend to understand. From an engineer’s perspective, it certainly seems a terribly inefficient way of doing things.

    Scriptures are full of stories where God could have done things “Himself”, but instead chose a fallible, weak fallen man instead. Does anyone here really think that He does not know what He is doing?

    So, for those who think that the State has no right to execute criminals for capital crimes, keep in mind that for the same inexplicable reason, He has chosen the State to be the instrument of His vengence. To suggest that He must extract it Himself (perhaps by citing Romans 12:19) is to deny Him His absolute right to implement His Will however He sees fit.

  57. Dr. Eric says:

    There are cases where murderers will still kill while in prison. I have also seen a few “Dateline” programs in which prisoners have brainwashed guards to kill for them.

    Also, I lived in a town where 50% of the jobs in the that town were prison guard jobs. If you think that the prison actually keeps these “cons” under wraps and peaceful, I have some great hair raising stories for you. I have dozens upon dozens of friends who are guards and if even half of the stories are true you’d thank God that we still have the death penalty.

  58. MikeM says:

    I hope Fr. Z doesn’t mind if I use his combox for a little of my own fisking…

    Here’s what Evangelium Vitae says about the death penalty:

    “On this matter there is a growing tendency , both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely [Mike says: Note, "growing tendency." This sounds markedly different from saying "It is an immutable truth that...]. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”. [Mike says: OK, so redress is the primary goal]. Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. [Mike says: Does this imply that the offender ought to have a means of regaining his freedom? What if he will not be given that opportunity? To me, this raises ethical issues about the alternatives to the death penalty that approximately equal my concerns about the death penalty in weight. Isn't it inhumane to lock someone up in a cage for the rest of their life with no hope of re-entry into society? And, if our justice system is structured such that the person is only likely to get worse over their time in incarceration, which seems to be the case, how much better is that option, really?] In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.

    It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society [Mike says: And what constitutes "defending society?" Is this confined to the material defense of people's lives and property, or could the defense of the moral fabric of society count, too?]. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

    In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: ‘If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person’.”

    If I were a governor, I would slap a moratorium on the death penalty PDQ, but I think when we summarize and say “The Catholic Church is against the death penalty.” and leave it at that, we do ourselves and the Church a disservice by skipping over the broader questions at play. And, if you’re a Catholic who supports the death penalty, I don’t think “I disagree with the Church” should be a satisfactory end-point for you… There’s a lot to consider in formulating a viewpoint on justice in society. The death penalty is just one component of that broad topic, and it’s one we should all explore more deeply. We should consider possible ethical concerns about the prison system, the ethics of life imprisonment, when, if at all, the death penalty should be applied, and, if never, what alternatives meet the demands of justice for the most heinous crimes (and then, what are the pros and cons of that option.)

  59. Igne says:

    In its current incarnation the lex talionis serves the secular totem of ‘closure’ more than the detestable cause of vengeance, and certainly more than justice. Those that crow in favour of the death penalty would do well to see Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’. Neither Our Lord, our Lady nor Peter lifted a gallows high, but three of them suffered because of them.

  60. sejoga says:

    For what it’s worth, even though I’m getting to this discussion a little late, I think it needs to be acknowledged that, regardless of how one feels about the death penalty (I’m totally against it myself), our criminal justice system is SO out-of-whack that we should scrap the death penalty just because there are proven cases of innocent people going to their deaths because election-whore DAs try to rack up their conviction rates to make it look like they’re “tough on crime”. (That’s a long sentence, sorry.)

    I recommend people to look to the work of the journalist Radley Balko to see the awful, heinous abuses of law enforcement and public prosecutors whose livelihoods depend, not on securing TRUE justice, but on making arrests and getting convictions at any cost, even if it means punishing, imprisoning, or even killing innocent people. I would rather a million guilty men go free than for even one innocent person to face the horrors of wrongful capital punishment.

  61. sejoga says:

    Radley Balko’s blog is http://www.theagitator.com. I realize some of his stances won’t be fully appreciated by a lot of readers at this site, but he’s still one of the finest journalists to cover extensively the abuses of our criminal justice system, which are as many as they are gravely immoral.

  62. cwillia1 says:

    The Magisterium is the judge of how binding a particular teaching is on the faithful. Pope Benedict has made it clear that the teaching on capital punishment of EV and the CCC is not. It IS clear to me that this teaching itself is not clear and coherent.

    On the other hand, the traditional attitude of the Church towards capital punishment is less favorable than some traditionalists think.

    Capital punishment in the US is a farce and I oppose it for that reason. It is rare considering that there must be 10,000 or so homicides a year. And I do think it is a serious mistake to give the repeal of capital punishment a high priority. Most of the people who oppose capital punishment in this country and in Europe oppose it for the wrong reasons. There are many people who are pro-life, especially non-Catholics, who support capital punishment. Treating capital punishment as a right to life issue creates confusion and undermines the cause.

  63. Geoffrey says:

    “Pope Benedict has made it clear that the teaching on capital punishment of EV and the CCC is not.”

    Can you cite an actual source (document, etc.)? Thanks!

  64. jmgarciajr says:

    What I’m gathering from this comment stream is that a great many folks are braiding together into one yarn disparate fibers.

    There are a lot of issues here that need to be examined and looked at through the prism of Church teaching. Not that I am the ideal candidate to lead a merry band on such an expedition but, I offer some thoughts.

    1- We do not know what could possibly be going through the minds of the families of the victims. We do not know to what extent they are being quoted accurately and in context. They deserve our prayers and our charity, even if (and I mean “if”) they are being wildly uncharitable. (And they could very well be.)

    2- I am glad Beuke seems to have repented fully, but I would be more relieved for his sake if he had accepted his punishment instead of seeking clemency.

    3- If the highest goal of civil (as opposed to Divine) justice is the protection of an innocent citizenry, then there are times where capital punishment and no other will afford that protection. One could spend a week Googling examples of convicted murderers escaping, being furloughed, having their sentences commuted or being pardoned only to murder again. This is not to say capital punishment is flawless in the USA. On the contrary, it is beset by horrifying flaws on all sides. On one hand whatever deterrence it might conceivably offer is dissipated by decades-long waits as appeals and motions and injunctions play out in court, and at the other end there are grave questions about the guilt of the convicted.

    4- I didn’t get from this article a particularly bloodlusty sense, of a population eager to see the streets of America running red with the blood of those convicted of capital crimes. Any such construction seems, to me, to be a projection on the part of the reader(s). The reactions of the families of the victims are better viewed through a prism of pity than censure. They have suffered a horrific loss and (for a number of reasons well afield of this post and its stream of comments) their reactions should be viewed through a lens of pity rather than recrimination. Those reactions (if the article is, in fact, conveying correctly) are the pent-up outpourings of nearly thirty years of anguish and sorrow, finally given voice…not reasoned expressions of cold hatred.

    5- Whenever I see people equating, in a blanket sense, abortion (et al.) with capital punishment, my antennæ begin to twitch. The two have only the merest hint of similarity and it is a disservice to clear thinking (and teaching) to place them on an equal plane.

    AMDG,