Friday, May 15, 2015

I am ashamed of my country today

Here’s why.

We don’t need to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  He poses no continuing threat to our public safety.  Protecting the common good does not require us to kill him.  I am convinced, as are many others, that the principal actor in the Boston Marathon bombing was his brother Tamerlan--and Tamerlan is already dead.

There are only three reasons to kill Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and none of them are consistent with the Catholic moral understanding of the just use of the death penalty in an age and nation where the possibility of highly secure incarceration is a reality.  These reasons are revenge, retaliation, and retribution--and none of those is a good enough reason to kill someone who is believed by many to have been his brother’s dupe throughout the crime, not some sort of criminal mastermind in his own right.

I mourn the deceased victims of the attack and stand with the injured who have undergone so much.  None of my shame for my country’s decision today is a minimizing of their real pain and suffering.  But killing Tsarnaev will not bring back the dead nor heal the wounded.  Sufficient time in prison might, instead, make him experience real remorse and shame for his own part in this terrible crime.

I call on my Catholic brothers and sisters, my Christian brothers and sisters, and all those who believe that the death penalty has outlived its time to stand with me in objecting to this shameful decision.  If we truly believe that human life is sacred there is no justification for executing criminals who do not pose a continuing threat to public safety, whom we can safely incarcerate instead.

(Cross-posted at Coalition for Clarity.)


bill bannon said...

. The history of this recent papal mistake on the death penalty is too long for my patience. Read ccc #2260 and notice that it is obviously one CDF Cardinal trying to signal the world that the Cardinal who wrote ccc #2267 was mistaken. Ccc #2267 and you ...define deterrence as deterring this one murderer whom you caught which is ludicrous.
Suffice it to say that Peter and God killed Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and they were no danger to the community at all. None...never were...never will be. But God killed them through Peter in an echo of God killing Dathan and Abiram by the words only...of Moses.

Red Cardigan said...

Tell you what, Bill. Let’s agree to abolish the death penalty except when God directly smites someone through the Pope or the bishops, okay? I could agree to that.

bill bannon said... They are the people who handled the sex abuse period disastrously and permissively.

Elizabeth said...

I am with you on this, Erin. There is no justification for killing this guy. Keeping him locked up for at least 30 years, I can see. But while in prison he would have a chance to redeem his humanity to some extent, even to feel remorse and renounce his actions, to apologize to the survivors and the relatives of the dead.

Very sad day.



Siarlys Jenkins said...

Bill seems to argue that anyone who mishandled a sex abuse scandal is unworthy to speak up against the death penalty, therefore if a plea is made in the name of Catholic moral teaching against an execution, the execution should be carried out forthwith, no reason to consider the individual defendant or relevant facts.

I'm not Catholic, but if you are committed enough to cite canon law (rather obscurely for the uninitiated audience you may be trying to convince), then you ought to have some respect for the institutions and offices that developed and are responsible to carry out that canon law.

I would just add to Erin's discourse that thugs claiming Islam as their motivation usually have some notion of martyrdom, which might best be stifled by locking them up, alive, long enough to come to their senses and turn away from their own crimes. (I did see a cartoon once suggesting that the "72 virgins" greeting the soul of a dead jihadi on the other side would be... 72 Roman Catholic nuns in full habit, all praying the rosary in unison.)

John InEastTX said...

Before I knew the Catechism, I knew the words of Gandalf the Grey:

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

David Sharples said...

" If we truly believe that human life is sacred there is no justification for executing criminals..... "
Not necessarily, yes it is wrong to kill because everyone has a right to life, however there are times, such as when a murderer approaches another with intent to kill, that the murderer "forfeits" their right to life.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, David Sharples, but I don't believe Erin has condemned the police who shot the big brother during the search and shootout.

This is not that.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is no longer a threat. Killing him with the efficient machinery of state does not honor life.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

A Lutheran pastor once told me that if a man was attempting to rape his wife, and he killed the man to save his wife, it would be justified, but the fact that he had killed would nonetheless be a sin.

I recall that God told David he could not build the Temple in Jerusalem, because David was a man of war, he had blood on his hands. Many of those wars God commanded David to fight, but nonetheless, it meant that building the Temple was one thing David was not in suitable condition to carry out.

To kill taints the killer, even if there is good cause and it is unavoidable. That is why there used to be purification ceremonies, even when there was no punishment.