Robbie George makes a fine case for mercy for Kermit Gosnell. Mercy, some of us recall, is for people who do not deserve it, not for people who do. So, of course, allegedly Christian prolifers immediately toss Christ’s teaching to the winds in George’s comboxes and call for death, death, death and more death. Lots of Orwellian language about how death equals mercy. One contributor has written before about the glory of incinerating children in their bed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another says, about a death penalty that would be inflicted in absolute privacy and provide no deterrent at all, “Justice needs to be done, and also seen to be done.” Because these lovers of death are all about the sanctity of human life and the love of a God who forgives even the murder of his own Son.
A huge number of Christians don’t believe in anything like the grace and mercy of God (except for themselves and for excusable offenses and minor sins). They believe in salvation by law, force, punishment and politics. One of them frankly appeals to the death penalty as an exercise of raw Power. Does Gosnell belong behind bars? Of course. But thirsting for his blood is simple barbaric vengefulness, not justice tempered by mercy.
A lot of the “prolife” movement is simply another front for the culture of death. The fact is, there is a strong and persistent correlation between self-identified “prolife conservative Christians” and enthusiastic support for the death penalty and torture. This demographic doesn’t actually care what the Church teaches about its sacred cows any more than progressive dissenters do. It just cares what the GOP teaches. And the net contribution of the GOP over years has been minimal to the prolife cause and maximal to keeping the abortion regime in place and adding to it war and torture. God bless Robbie George for being a sign of contradiction to the spirit of our bloodthirsty age.
Update: Ye Olde Statistician finds the perfect Chesterton passage:
“There is a limit to human charity,” said Lady Outram, trembling all over.
“There is,” said Father Brown dryly; “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness to-day; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”
“But, hang it all,” cried Mallow, “you don’t expect us to be able to pardon a vile thing like this?”
“No,” said the priest; “but we have to be able to pardon it.”
He stood up abruptly and looked round at them.
“We have to touch such men, not with a bargepole, but with a benediction,” he said. “We have to say the word that will save them from hell. We alone are left to deliver them from despair when your human charity deserts them. Go on your own primrose path pardoning all your favourite vices and being generous to your fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console those who really need consolation; who do things really indefensible, things that neither the world nor they themselves can defend; and none but a priest will pardon. Leave us with the men who commit the mean and revolting and real crimes; mean as St. Peter when the cock crew, and yet the dawn came.”
— “The Chief Mourner of Marne,” from The Secret of Father Brown.