The pro-life party? — UPDATED

I saw parts of last night’s debate and was surprised by this response, too:

A bit of a startling moment happened near the end of Monday night’s CNN debate when a hypothetical question was posed to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? “Are you saying society should just let him die?” Wolf Blitzer asked.

“Yeah!” several members of the crowd yelled out.

If you listen, it also sounded like a few people booed at that reaction.

This comes just a few days after the audience applauded the news that over 200 people in Texas had been executed under Gov. Rick Perry.  Meantime, last night, Perry reiterated that he feels his executive order on Gardasil was a mistake, but one that he made because he is in favor of life.

UPDATE: A few other people are noting the “let’s applaud death” phenomenon at the debates, including Peter Wehner, over at Commentary:

Sometimes deaths can be justified; other times they are merely tragic. But whatever the circumstances, there is a troubling coarsening of people’s moral sense when they begin to cheer the loss of life. Even if you believe in the death penalty, it strikes me as inappropriate to applaud hundreds of executions. And to cheer even the hypothetical death of a comatose individual because he decided against having health insurance is slightly sick.

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33 responses to “The pro-life party? — UPDATED”

  1. Can anyone in their right minds consider this Administration any better than these Republicans would be when it comes to protecting innocent young human life. Through administrative action, and regulations (low-keyed in the anti-life mass media) this Administration is already the most pro-abortion Administration in U.S. History.

  2. That’s Libertarians for you. Ron Paul is a Libertarian and so are his devoted followers. They are a minority within the Republican Party. Most Republicans are Conservatives. I am a Conservative. Conservatives maintain that values are derived from religious principles and must structure society as such. Our roots is the philosophy of Edmund Burke. Libertarians trace their roots to Ayn Rand and others. If the Libertarians ever took over the Republican Party, I’m out of there.

  3. I believe you can only truly call yourself pro life if you hold to those principals from the cradle to the grave….from rich to poor….for all.
    To be pro life is to be against abortion, against the death penalty. All life is precious.

  4. I am not a Libertarian and would not vote for Ron Paul. That being said, I think this is a not a fair comment on Paul’s answer. The question posed was about a 30 year old man who could afford to buy health insurance but CHOOSES not to. Paul was asked what he would do if that same young man then needed six weeks of ICU.

    Paul’s answer was about the freedom of choice that we all have – including choosing not to buy insurance. He said he would have advised the young man to purchase major medical insurance to start, but noted that when he was a practicing doctor, they never turned anyone away without provinding care. He noted that the larger community, including churches, friends and families, always helped their members in need, not the government.

    The people who decided to shout ‘Yeah’ did not reflect the tenor and spirit of Paul’s answer.

  5. @manny

    You misread the report. It said that several members of the audience shouted “Yeah”, not Ron Paul. Had you watched the debate, you would know that Rep. Paul’s response was that no, society should not let him die, but charity is a function of the private sphere, not government.

    He was very close to making the point that having government appropriate these functions in fact serves to break down communities, but he never quite articulated it.

  6. Sorry, Deacon John, you don’t get to make that call.

    If you wish that greater scope had been given to mercy in those 200 cases that ended in execution, that’s fine; we should always encourage mercy, so long as it is REAL mercy, not mere sloth or squeamishness, and so long as it does not recklessly endanger the innocent. If you wish to object that some of those who were executed were innocent, that’s fine too; please come forth with the evidence. If, however, as seems to be the case, you believe that man is incapable of committing an act for which the just punishment is that he be put to death by his government, then you go beyond the teachings of the Church with your own opinion, and you insult the dignity of man.

    Much of the dignity of man consists in his being made in the image of God, so that he can make moral decisions of real importance. A man may not only choose to act in such a way that he forfeits the life of his body, but also the life of his soul; this free will is a part of his dreadful dignity, as ar its consequences. For this reason, we sometimes have to execute men out of justice, whereas we put down animals out of prudence only.

  7. Howard,
    The US Bishops, as well as the Universal Catholic Church have supported the universal value of human life consistantly. including opposition to the death penalty.
    I agree with them.

  8. Deacon John,

    The official position, as stated in CCC 2267 is conditional, not absolute. It clearly acknowledges a right to capital punishment in cases where it is the only effective way of protecting innocent human life, and recommends (“public authority should limit itself”) forgoing it only “[i]f … bloodless means are sufficient.” In this country, with paroles, pardons, and — as Deacon John Bresnahan has pointed out — killings inside of prisons, it seems that the Catechism’s conditions for holding the death penalty illegitimate are not met.

  9. From Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical “The Gospel of Life”:

    There is a growing tendency, both in the church and in civil society, to demand that [the death penalty] be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. 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 offense.”46 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. In this way authority also fulfills 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 behavior and be rehabilitated.47

    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. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare if not practically nonexistent.

    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.”48

    Whatever one may think of capital punishment — and the Church does allow for prudential judgment on this matter — applauding more than 200 executions is not ” in conformity to the dignity of the human person.” Neither is heartily cheering the death of someone who is uninsured.

    Dcn. G.

  10. What really happened?

    Blitzer posed his usual “but shouldn’t the government take care of everybody?” shtick, and Paul said that “shtick” is the reason people make foolish choices, because the assumption that the government should always take care of everything encourages people to do dumb things.

    People cheered that answer.

    Then Blitzer tried to reframe the answer by asking if “society should just let [people] die”, and when Paul answered “No” and essentially said the same thing Reagan did – “Government won’t fix the problem, government IS the problem.”

    And people applauded again.

    The Huffington Post is full of, well I can’t say in polite company.

    I don’t think there’s been an actual debate in my lifetime – they’re all just “what if” campaign stop squabbling matches, not debates.) Regardless, if you didn’t see the “debate”, I suggest you read the transcript of it.

    [Comment edited for inflammatory content – Ed.]

  11. Nor is it just to insinuate that a scattering of people in the audience at a Tea Party and CNN (not Republican) event somehow represent the Republican event.

  12. Chris…

    Anyone who clicks on the link to the HuffPo item will be taken to a post that has the video, and they can see for themselves what happened. You can hear Blitzer asking if they should just let the sick 30 year old die, and several people call out “Yeah!”

    Dcn. G.

  13. Last two answers are very good.

    Please understand; I am not involved in prison ministry. I am, however, on a first-name basis with at least twelve priests and about that many deacons who are in that line of work.

    One of those twelve priests I consider a dear friend has been in this line of work for over twenty years but he works in a European country that does not have the death penalty.

    Three more of those priests have served as Death Row Chaplains in both men’s and women’s facilities: two in the Midwest and one on the West Coast.

    All three of those Catholic Priests – Death-Row Chaplains I know on a first name basis are absolutely against the death penalty on moral grounds.

    The reason I asked the question is that I wanted a counter-balance position that was also grounded in catholic teaching.

  14. Deacon Greg #14: “You can hear Blitzer asking if they should just let the sick 30 year old die, and several people call out “Yeah!””

    I watched the debate (the football game was a bit boring by then) and saw this exchange. Blitzer set up the scenario very clearly: a 30 year old healthy male decides to not have insurance, and then becomes gravely ill, requiring a lengthy period of intensive care or he will die. The question was put…should the government let him die.

    Rep. Paul tries to address the first part of the question, the right to choose, but Blitzer pushes the second portion with the followup should he be allowed to die. A few people (it sounds like a handful, but could be more) shout yes, a few more applaud, and Rep. Paul seems taken aback.

    It is then that Rep. Paul gives an excellent answer. He says that the man should not be allowed to die, but that his community should intervene to help him. His church, people in town, and businesses should offer up assistance.

    This is the answer the Bible gives when the early church is described in Acts 2:42-47

    “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

    This is the pattern of behavior the Bible outlines for the church. Given God’s concern for the poor and sick it is no wonder He raised up the government to do what the church (Christians, the Body of Christ) are reluctant or unable to do.

  15. It seems to me that if the Catholic Church is teaching that abortion, even in the case of a direct and confirmed threat to the life of the mother, should *never* be an option, it is only consistent to say that the death penalty should *never* be an option if there is a chance an innocent person might be executed. And, given the success of the Innocence Project, I’d say that there is a significant likelihood that innocent people will be, and have been executed in the name of justice.

    If an innocent life cannot be sacrificed to save the life of someone else, why should we accept the death of an innocent person to save money for the taxpayer?

  16. All those folks in the audience who shouted “Yeah!” or applauded that sentiment make it that much harder to convince the world that pro-lifers are sincere when it comes to abortion. Same for Gov. Perry’s supporters who cheered (yes, cheered) the information about the 200+ executions that have taken place under his watch. None of that looks pro-life. Mostly because it isn’t.

  17. Perry and most of his supporters are not “pro-life” in any overarching sense of the word. They take that title for themselves simply by virtue of their position on outlawing abortion. They are in open contempt of the idea that human life should have any inherent value.

    These are not, by and large, people who are making a reasoned distinction between abortion and the death penalty as a regrettable last-choice option for public safety. Their support of the death penalty is frank bloodlust. They don’t simply accept that executions may have to happen for the public good. They revel in the idea of vengeance and take actual delight in the killing of people. Many of them advocate for expanding the use of executions for a far wider range of crimes and would like to dispatch with even the shabby procedural safeguards we have in place to rule out innocence. These people are as “pro-life” as Nero’s palace guard.

    They are also social Darwinists who argue that life has no value beyond that of any other commodity. If someone doesn’t have the wealth or cunning or foresight to care for themselves in time of illness, they DESERVE to die. If we think a cabal of people like that are going to create a “culture of life” in this country, then we’re dumber as a people than we look.

  18. Deacon John:

    I agree that cheering executions is beyond the pale. I was not reacting to your criticism of the cheers.

    If you read very carefully through all the relevant materials — the Catechism, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and Evangelium Vitae — you’ll notice that they consistently say that capital punishment should be used as rarely as possible, but they also consistently fail to say that capital punishment is inherently unjust. That distinction is important, since there are reasons why a just sentence may not be carried out. The most important reason, and the reason that should be kept front and center in discussions by the clergy of this issue, is mercy, which is a part of love, which is a theological virtue; justice and prudence are only cardinal virtues. There are important consequences of that which I won’t much go into here, but I do maintain most vehemently that two crucial parts of the dignity of a man are (1) he may commit crimes for which the just sentence is very severe, even death, and (2) he may be forgiven. Only a person may be subject to death due to *justice* (as I said, it’s prudence when we put down a rabid dog); only a person may be forgiven (it’s meaningless to talk about forgiving the tornado that killed so many people in Joplin); and only a person may extend forgiveness.

    If you do not admit that a man may JUSTLY be executed for his crimes, then all of the “prudential” language in the above documents becomes utterly perverse: It would appear that the state may put someone to death who does not deserve it, as long as their “prudential” reasons are good enough. That’s what Caiphas urged in John 18:14, and what despots have insisted whenever it was convenient.

    In fact, the worst temptation to doubt I have ever had as a Catholic came after reading the part of 50 QUESTIONS ON THE NATURAL LAW by Charles Rice in which he claimed that this was precisely the case; my troubles evaporated when I read the ACTUAL DOCUMENTS the next day and saw that they do not say what Rice claims they say. (Needless to say, I consider that book poisonous; when I want to read about the Natural Law, I turn instead to Budziszewski.)

    That is why I become so heated in this discussion. If we find a way to be merciful to each prisoner, excellent! (By the way, that’s mercy to *all* prisoners, not just those sentenced to death.) But there are huge problems with claiming that a man can never perform an act that makes him worthy of death, even death at the hands of his fellow men.

  19. Deacon Greg,

    Thanks for your response.

    The page looks like it’s trying to display an inline video, but I can’t see it. I may have found it on Shea’s site though (it finishes with a URL – is that it?)

    Assuming the video linked on Shea’s blog is the same one, I note that it conveniently cuts out immediately after the question, in an obvious effort to leave viewers with the impressions that 1) Blitzer’s inflammatory attempt to Re-Frame his original question in an attempt to imply that a lack of government welfare & anti-charity/anti-private insurance regulations = “letting helpless people die”, and 2) that the audience (as well as Ron Paul & all “conservatives” by proxy) hold complete & callous disregard for others.

    As such, both the article & the video misrepresent the issue by presenting a tiny piece of the show without allowing the entire “context” to be included. This is exactly the same kind of practice used by many anti-Catholics who try to present tiny pieces of Scripture in isolation from everything else to try to object to &/or misrepresent Catholic teaching.

    I concede the fact that yes, sadly enough, there are people that take the view “Too bad for [whomever]”, but that does not mean that everyone with similar views, or voting habits, or clothes or hair color, etc., think the same thing. That does not mean that one, or any of the candidates agree with people with no regard for others.

    Yes, there are bad people in the world. Yes, there are selfish people in the world. Even among “good” people, nearly all of us fall down from time to time, & do/say/support the wrong things.

    I apologize for my harsh tone previously, which was largely in response to the character assassination attempt of the article, & the way many blogs (including Shea’s) seem to have completely bought into it’s misrepresentation.

    That said, this post is admittedly unlike the ones that essentially say Yep those tea partyers are insane heartless monsters after all!”

    I agree with you that Republican Party claims of being “pro-life” (including many “conservative” “Tea Party” types) are questionable at best, given the incessant calls by so many “conservatives” for war, torture, and cronyism. Such actions and views make the Republican Party a far more attractive target for inflammatory accusations of them only being worried about life before it’s born.

    However, assuming the interpretation of a few cries of “Yeah” after Blitzer’s absurd question change as being supportive of the idea is correct, it is not only unfair, but illogical to act like the selfish outlooks of some people is representative of everyone, or even just a particular party.

  20. The UK press (even Damian Thompson, self-declared RC conservative) calls its own Conservative/Tory party the “Nasty Party”. We now see from the audience response our own nation’s version of the “Nasty Party”. To the great credit of your church, this non-RC observes many instances world-wide, now and in the past, when the RCC profitably worked with public agencies to succor the sick, the aged and the poorest of the poor.
    Private versus public charity and care need not be a zero sum game. By the way, when did so many RC adopt a Puritanical Protestant ethos of rugged individualism? The RC immigrants used the power of government quite successfully to build urban political machines, often working hand in glove with RC charities and hospitals.

  21. A major problem with the Death Penalty in the US is that innocent people are sometimes convicted: because of police misconduct (tampering with evidence, or withholding evidence that tends to show innocence); prosecutorial misconduct; or because the defendant cannot afford competent legal counsel.
    Those convicted of first degree murder are disproportionately (i.e., out of proportion to their percent of the general US population) minorities, whether hispanic or Afro-American. The statistical evidence establishes a preponderance of evidence that the death penalty as applied in the US is unjust. A sentence of “Life w/o parole” would be sufficient to keep the convicted one from harming others in civil society. Two problem areas exist, however: 1) What do you do with the convict already serving a life term who murders another while in prison? And, 2) How do you maintain the unspoken compact with our civil police that someone who deliberately murders a police officer (a la “Onion Field” should receive the death penalty?
    A full resolution of the issue needs solutions to the problem areas as well.

  22. My real reason for believing that the death penalty has an appropriate role is given in comment #20, but there is also a prudential reason which seems to be rarely if ever considered: When people talk about banning the death penalty, they mean that people could no longer be put to death by the state. This overlooks the fact that people can be and are put to death by the state with no trial at all. For example, the State of Israel has no death penalty, so when they think someone is “bad enough”, they don’t bother trying to take him alive. No trial, no death penalty — but a corpse nonetheless.

  23. @uGin #6
    “You misread the report. It said that several members of the audience shouted “Yeah”, not Ron Paul. Had you watched the debate, you would know that Rep. Paul’s response was that no, society should not let him die, but charity is a function of the private sphere, not government.”

    Fair enough. Ron Paul is a unconventional Libertarian and is roughly pro life. Still, I’ve met a fair number of his faithful followers and they are most defintely Ayn Rand Libertarians. I’ll offer an apology to Mr. Paul. But I’ll not retract what I said about his followers.

  24. “Whatever one may think of capital punishment — and the Church does allow for prudential judgment on this matter — applauding more than 200 executions is not ” in conformity to the dignity of the human person.” Neither is heartily cheering the death of someone who is uninsured.”

    I think all this is irrelevant. Lets stipulate that Libertarians fans of Ran Paul were wrong to “cheer” letting anyone die.
    Although frankly they are less offensive than the Democrats actually defending the practice of murdering some people via abortion.

    When we think about this The choice between the 2 parties is really quite simple. The candidates for the Democrat usually favors unrestricted abortion with tax payer funding if possible. Abortion is as Vatican II put it an “unspeakable crime” and to quote Blessed John Paul II, murder. Quoting him exactly in Evangelium Vitae he states “The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder” Moreover politicians who support this state of affairs are acting immorally, quoting Evangelium Vitae “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it” I would think it obvious that if you vote for the Democrat when there is a candidate opposed to intrinsically unjust laws you are voting for murder and as such bear some moral responsibility.

    As for the death penalty as you concede this is a matter of prudential judgment because in Evangelium Vitate it is not seen as intrinsically wrong. Things which are intrinsically wrong are never licit choices, while John Paul II allows for the death penalty in some cases, specifically in cases where
    “….. it would not be possible otherwise to defend society.” Your statement that 200 cases is “too many” is an assertion not an argument. ( I would be frankly against the death penalty as well on purely prudential grounds, but one can favor the death penalty and remain in communion with the Catholic Church,) This is particularly true since the Church has not been historicalluy against it. In fact several Popes have justified the death penalty like for example Pius XII who stated “”Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he himself, through his crime, has deprived himself of the right to life.”

    We are even farther afield when we argue about how best to handle those without insurance. First off I am a critical care physician, and feel it necessary to dispel a myth. There is no one who comes to the hospital, lies in a coma and is allowed to die in an ICU. This is a nonsense scenario. In fact that scenario is illegal, as anti ER dumping laws already prohibit that kind of behavior. Such a patient gets cared for even now and before Obama care and those providing the care eat the cost. For example if its me, the bill for any professional service is lost. Thats ok, part of the role of a physician.

    Debates however over health care financing, are more about how best to fund the system in a way that preserves patient autonomy and does not drive the providers bankrupt. They involve numerous complicated prudential judgements that the Catholic Church can not specify, beyond saying that policy makers must work for the common good. There are conservative and liberal approaches and they stand and fall on their own merits, not based on papal decrees. I do have news for you however. The type care envisioned by the Democrats specifically plans for letting some people die. TO the extent it does this it may indeed be immoral . Ezekeil Emanuel Obama’s health care policy advisor, has specifically advocated limiting some forms of life saving care to those between adolescence and say around 55 because those lives are more valuable than say those of infants… Charming…. You can read all about it in his own words here
    This article alone should make it clear just who is the pro-life party and who is the culture of death gang.

    It is pretty obvious to me, if you vote Democrat you are endorsing legalized murder and a view of the world in which policy makers view some lives as worth more than others.. The Republicans are not perfect.. not even close but they do not sink to the level of moral squalor the Democrats do. To the extent people deny this they are accomplices.

  25. Not sure how we ended up on the death penalty when the post is about not buying health insurance and then having big healthcare needs.

    We are premitted to form our own belief on the death Penalty according to what I read in Catholic teaching. We are not allowed to do so with regard to abortion. You can be solid Catholic, pro death penalty, and anti abortion. Yes, Pope JPII put out a strong argument for us to consider being against the death penalty in an encyclical, but did not make a comment as he did with never allowing women priests which he said the Church can never change. Many non Catholics, and sadly many Catholics, do not seem to understand there are things we must believe and accept as Catholics and some we are open to decide for ourselves.

    What Paul said is true in regard to healthcare and what the impact of government involvment has done to this industry. There was a question asked about the overall cost of healthcare and what could be done to bring down costs. The first answer should have been to begin to unwind government involvement.

    Gov put wage and price controls in place after WWII and so the unions went after benefits like the employer paying for healthcare insurance. It became a standard benefit many employers paid for as it was cheap and provided a way for big companies to have an advantage over smaller companies. As the costs have increased, this is even more so and now the best employer is the government with seemingly endless sources of cash. This also made the person needing healthcare largely separated from cost concerns.

    Gov started Medicare, medicaid, and more programs distorting healthcare costs. No one can deny that from the date the government started to pour trillions into healthcare, that from that date to the present, the cost of healthcare which had been on a gradual increase has skyrocketed. If the government did the same thing with buying groceries for everyone, the cost of a trip to the supermarket would need a truck to carry the cash. If the buyer could get anything they wanted, filet mignon or lobster would be standard fare for every meal. Only healthcare is handled in this way. One might argue food stamps are provided by government, but anyone who wants to defend that program should do some homework and it was not like healthcare insurance where you could have endless costs. The government also blocked (democrats) tort reform which gave us high healthcare costs and defensive medicine. Everywhere the government went added to costs. Ever wonder how we got to procedures that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and with specialist in every phase of the industry many of whom make hundreds of thousands of dollars and many multiples of what the primary care doctor makes? All came about after medicare…

    Should we mandate everyone buy healthcare insuance. Not the role of government per constitution. Should we then pay for the end result of those who do not? Nope, not in the constitution to do so, but if charities want to help those who make bad choices, I would be one of the first to donate help. There would be something good about the young man who chose not to buy insurance if he had to seek charity for his error rather than government stepping in and paying for everything. The government based on this concept will go broke and those receiving help they did not earn or deserve will soon expect even more given to them as a right.

    [Actually, Greta, no, it’s not about health insurance: the post is about people at the GOP debates showing enthusiastic support for people dying. Dcn. G.]

  26. We could compare the enthusiasm of people at the Republican rally cheering for the death of people, with the vociferous and shrill defense of abortion at Democratic party events or when these show up in pro-live events shouting “my body, my choice”. It’s like one cord where both extremes join together.

    The difference between abortion and the death penalty is that abortion victims are innocent while the convict has transgressed against the laws of his state, sometimes in most heinous ways.

    But the bigger question is why do we have 50,000,000 abortions since 1973 and why do we have 2,000,000 people in jail (almost as numerous as those in the armed forces)? Why does a mother decide to kill her child? Why a person decides to murder others in horrible ways (Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Hi Fi murders, etc.) Why would a health care provider kill an elderly person by starvation and thirst? Why the State insists in death penalty when it is known that is applied unevenly, unequally depending on how much money you can afford for a lawyer and is not a deterrent?

    In short SIN in a sinful world.

  27. I think you should extend the same charity to Republicans cheering that 200 executions were carried out with the children of Israel celebrating the destruction of Pharaoh’s chariots in the Red Sea.

    As a deacon, it should be important to you whether a governor commutes a sentence (a) because he thinks it will win him votes, (b) because he does not have the stomach for it, or (c) because he is, on behalf of the people of his state, extending genuine mercy. You should not praise the callous and calculating politician who listens to polls rather than to a well-formed conscience; a governor following path (a) is not worthy of praise. Neither is a (b)-type governor; dereliction of duty is not virtuous. If the guilt of the condemned man is clear, and his crime was truly so grave as to merit death, the only praiseworthy reason for not carrying out the sentence is mercy, a word which is noteworthy in its absence from anti-death-penalty rhetoric.

    Voters are used to seeing politicians sacrifice the good of the state to their own careers or whims. There IS something to be said of a governor who at least does his duty and embodies the cardinal virtue of justice, even if he never rises above it.

    A Jewish friend tells me that, according to their traditions, God rebuked the children of Israel for celebrating the destruction of Pharaoh’s forces: “How can you dance and sing? Don’t you know that these were also My children?”

    And yet, if it were completely wrong to celebrate this, would the Psalmist have sung about it centuries later: “And overthrew Pharao and his host in the Red Sea: for his mercy endureth for ever”?

    P.S. My understanding is that Texas law does not give the governor much leeway in granting mercy. If so, this is a serious defect in the law. It is likely, though, that the crowd at the debate would not have known this.

  28. Chris: Greta and mrd

    Of is really hard to follow common courtesy and limit your comments to 150 words or less?

    Sirach 21: 25-28

  29. Sorry Fiergenholt.

    I didn’t realize there was a 150 word cap on internet courtesy.

    Very classy way to say “shut up” though. Kudos.

  30. Fiergenholt,

    It can be very difficult to develop a serious thought with a limit of 150 words. Such an arbitrary limit is perhaps suitable for social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and is typical of the soundbites and sloganeering that pass for discussion on television and in some so-called debates. If someone can say all he or she wishes to say in response to a post with no more than 150 words, fine, but I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for going longer.

  31. As I have said many many times before, the Republican Party is not pro life they are pro argument.

    They care more about dividing people than brining people together.

    They basically pay lip service to pro life. They have a blind eye to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged but will bend over more than backwards to care for the rich and the well healed.

    Pro life is all life. The cheers and hoorays at the debate is only more proof.

    The sad part they seemed to really enjoy it.

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