I managed to have just about everybody misunderstand my “Another Sad Day for Death Penalty Enthusiasts” blog

To be clear, I meant exactly what I said. There are people who are not merely death penalty supporters (a position I respect though disagree with), but death penalty *enthusiasts*. People who *love* the death penalty, who long to see as many people put to death as possible, who wave frying pans at the execution of Ted Bundy or Timothy McVeigh as they cheer and laugh, who see the death penalty, not as a negative restraint on evil, but as a positive good and who, at the end of the day, look for all the world like they are disappointed and angry when somebody escapes the noose. Such people tend not to have a respectful disagreeement with Evangelium Vitae (which is, we should recall, the teaching of Holy Church) but a violent, hateful, spite toward the Holy Father personally and an embittered rage at his desire that the death penalty be employed as rarely as possible. They seem to be unable to grasp the fact that the death penalty has *always* been employed within the bounds of prudential judgment and that there was never a time, even under the Old Testament, that the death penalty was employed every single time the law allowed. Moses and David were both spared it. Jesus spared the adulterous woman. The Church has periodically sought to spare the capital offender (while always recognizing that Caesar has and retains the right to the sword). Today is no different. Evangelium Vitae nowhere says that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral (as, for example, abortion is). It recognizes that Caesar still has the right to the sword. But it prefers mercy wherever possible and says that where the condemned no longer poses a threat to the community, his life should be spared. I agree with this. Others respectfully disagree because of various things. But some disagree not respectfully, but with rage and malice, and not because they are interested in justice per se but because, at bottom, they simply love the idea of putting somebody to death. They are death penalty enthusiasts, not mere supporters. And death penalty supporters should be the first, not the last, to repudiate such people lest their sincere interest in justice be tarnished by association with those whose real interest is in the prideful lust for vengeance and the godlike power to destroy human life.


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