November 15, 2005

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

Byron Knight of New Castle believes that "those cheering execution reveal their animal nature."

I couldn't imagine we would celebrate the death of another human being by publishing a photo of cheering throngs (Nov. 5) at the announcement of an execution. How much lower can we go? Rather than cheering "an eye for an eye," our higher calling is to engender a deep sense of forgiveness. I recognize the difficulty of that, and at the same time know it is the only way we can know true closure and peace.

Why then publish a photo that promotes our animalistic nature?"

Now, there are legitimate arguments against capital punishment, but referring to people as "animals" because they are ... happy a heinous, brutal rapist/murderer has been put to death is just plain ... dopey. Consider that the killer (Brian Steckel) was put to sleep for his death, while the girl he murdered ... didn't have that "luxury." (Steckel was sentenced to death in 1997 for the 1994 murder of Sandra Lee Long in her apartment near Wilmington. Long was burned to death in a fire Steckel set after strangling her into unconsciousness and raping and sodomizing her.)

Personally, I am against the death penalty but not for "moral" reasons. I do not believe, as Mr. Knight does, in "engender[ing] a deep sense of forgiveness" for a monster like Steckel.

Posted by Hube at November 15, 2005 11:32 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I agree with your view. I am against capital punishment because I know that in some cases prosecutors and police knowingly engage in misconduct and, worse, the police and prosecutors who would never do so will also never 'rat out' their colleagues. Police and prosecutors are also reluctant to free even an innocent man once they have convicted them. Scary as hell. There is also, apparently, no punishment for such misconduct. Look at the Cruz case in Illinois for a prime example. That case changed my mind forever about trusting police agencies to inflict the ultimate punishment. If there were a system of using the DP in only the most evidentially slam dunk cases, I could support it, but we are way not close to that.
But I have would have no problem executing those whose guilt is clear and where circumstances call for it.
That said, I think it is unseemly to cheer at an execution. The guilty may deserve it in some way, but their families and loved ones certainly do not. And me cheering a criminal's execution reflects on me as a human being, not his/her guilt.

Posted by: mikem at November 15, 2005 02:54 PM

Jeez, mikem. I could've written that. What is this crazy world coming to? :)

Though I guess I'm not sure whether I'd favor it even if the margin for error were taken out, simply because studies show time and time again that it really doesn't deter jack. And if it doesn't deter substantially, the only legitimate reason for it, in my mind, is taken away. And I guess I don't really buy into the eye-for-an-eye way of thinking, because it's a philosophy that has broader implications than just capital punishment. It's why I have arguments with co-workers who think we should torture people as policy "because they do it."

Posted by: dan at November 15, 2005 04:41 PM

dan: there are statistics out there that prove it is a deterrent, you know. NY's Pataki talks about his state here. A better example might be this. Also, given your hypothetical, if the margin for error was taken out, and the DP were applied across the board, for set, specific crimes with limited appeal, I tend to think the deterrence factor would increase quite a bit. But that's a big hypothetical.

Nevertheless, I don't want to turn this into a DP debate. I merely wanted to point out that relatives (or whoever) being happy that a heinous murderer was "laid to rest" by justice isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it doesn't make one "an animal." Even considering my view on the DP, if Steckel did what he did to my own daughter, I cannot say I wouldn't go so far as to bribe a prison guard for a half hour's time in a room alone w/him -- him tied up and me with a baseball bat. Until you've faced a situation like Ms. Long's relatives, I wouldn't say very much. But that's just me.

Posted by: Hube at November 15, 2005 05:56 PM

yeah, you're probably right about the effect in the "big hypothetical" situation. but it is quite big indeed!

and, you're right, i wouldn't say too much about this, as I might react similarly -- and i certainly hope none of us ever do find out how we'd react.

Posted by: dan at November 15, 2005 06:38 PM

99% in favor of the death penalty....and if people can hold a vigil against the DP, people can show their support also! When you read about the heinous 'animalistic' crimes committed by animals like that a-hole, get them the hell out of here and fast......Its the ridiculous length of time of the appeals process that partially creates an impression that it is not a deterent! If justice were served quicklyf on slam dunk cases of sheer animalistic brutality, the false impression that there is no deterent would fade...good darn ridence of that 'pure evil' creature!

Posted by: cardinals fan at November 16, 2005 11:01 PM

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