Our Savage, Backward, and Brutal Intellectual Allies

Amnesty map full

Meanwhile, Holy Mother Church urges us to use the death penalty as rarely as possible the last three popes and the bishops of the world call for its abolition.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    Ah yes, again with the subtle guilt by association argument. And again, it could be pointed out that the majority of countries that have long abandoned the death penalty have vibrant abortion cultures, post-Christian cultures, now pro-gay marriage cultures and increasingly friendly to euthanasia and assisted suicide cultures. In fact, it could be argued that there is more of a connection with those that reject those traditional ideals along with the death penalty, than those who support the death penalty necessarily being in the same camp as places like China or Iran. Unless, up until recently, the Church was in the same camp as places like China and Iran.

    Again, I prefer the Church’s teaching that the DP should be rare, unless there is no other way to protect the innocent. When I became Catholic, that resolved the problems with both sides of the debate, as I expected the Catholic Faith to do. That the Catechism and most arguments now for abolishing the DP rest on this idea of the modern State suddenly being able to prevent crime is troubling enough. It’s more like the Bishops and Popes just want to abolish the death penalty, and faced with a rather consistent 2000 year approach to the subject, are grasping for straws. The State can prevent crime? What’s it even mean? I’m fine with what the Church teaches, as long as it doesn’t rest on me accepting that squares are round. When that happens, I have to guess there’s more than just clear and obvious unpacking of revealed truths going on.

    “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm…” Uh huh. Tell that to Tom Clements and Nathan Leon: “How do I tell my 4-year-olds, ‘Daddy was murdered because of a clerical error’?” Katherine Leon said.

    • dfp

      I don’t think it’s “guilt by association”, exactly, I think the argument is more “Are these the people you want to be like?”

      No person is truly unique: everybody is like somebody else in one way or another. And we should all of us mind who are friends are, and who we are like, and see if who we’re like is someone we really want to become.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        I’m not sure there is a difference. I simply think it’s a very, very and let me say again, very weak argument. One easily dismissed. Heck, over at the Huffpost, I’ve seen people argue that if you want to oppose gay marriage and limit abortions, welcome to your friends in the barbaric world of behead-a-woman Islam. Again, it’s overused, and never effective except perhaps in a Pep Rally sort of way.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      In fact, it could be argued that there is more of a connection with those that reject those traditional ideals along with the death penalty, than those who support the death penalty necessarily being in the same camp as places like China or Iran.

      Yes. It could be argued using a subtle guilt-by-association argument.

      Moral decisions – whether on a personal or on a global level – should be made based on good and evil, not on what the other kids are doing.

      For myself, I find what is most shocking is how radically off the scale China’s execution rate is. I suppose I had known that China had, um, issues; I just hadn’t realized how big those, er, issues were.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      And again, it could be pointed out that the majority of countries that have long abandoned the death penalty have vibrant abortion cultures, post-Christian cultures,

      So on that logic, we should expect China to be pro-life and religious. Not seeing it.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Nor am I. My point isn’t that this is a great, sound argument: if you oppose/support capital punishment then you’re like them. My point is, that’s a rather weak and pointless argument, as has been pointed out by others than just me. By Mark’s assessment, apparently the Catholic Church, up until a couple decades ago, was quite the ideological ally to barbaric thugs and murderous Communist tyrants. Nope. It’s not good logic in either direction. It’s been pointed out by several. Can’t figure out why Mark continues to use it. Unless it’s that the main argument – that since our State is so efficient at preventing crimes we don’t need capital punishment anymore – seems such a stretch that it demands finding some other argument. For my part, I’d prefer an argument that said because the State sucks on so many levels, there’s no way it’s a reliable instrument of justice where taking human life is concerned. Now that’s an argument I can accept.

        • Naomi

          That’s exactly the problem I have with the death penalty: Our government is too inept to be trusted to execute only those who need to be executed for the sake of society. If you look at the statistics of who gets the death penalty vs. who gets life, it’s really really disheartening. While in principle, I agree that sometimes the safest thing for society is to execute a really unrepentant, dangerous criminal, I don’t think our judicial system is capable of making that decision rationally, consistently, and fairly. There are too many people later proven innocent who were put to death.

          • Naomi

            Also, I have concerns about what being the executor does to the spirit, mind, and emotional well being. People who are essentially good people just doing their jobs are damaged by the performance of their duties; alternately, you have sick bastards getting their jollies legally killing people… Which do you prefer?

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              Well, ultimately no murders. I used to oppose the Death Penalty straight out. Those I used to debate with would throw up the possibility of an innocent dying at the hands of someone who might have been executed otherwise. It has happened before. That always gnawed at me. That’s why I loved the Church’s position when I became Catholic: mercy at all costs, but not by throwing the innocent under the bus. If the Church was to use some other reasoning, I could handle it. But basing it on the sudden perfection of the State’s protective devices? They could as easily said we should end the DP because now there are leprechauns in all the traffic lights. It’s so demonstrably false. That’s my biggest problem with it.

              • bill bannon

                You are so correct in several ways.

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            Exactly. If the Church and its leaders were running about saying that, I could believe it. But ‘State can prevent crime’? What’s it even mean? Especially since there are few groups more critical of our State and its handling of justice and incarceration than the US Catholic Bishops. It’s strange to me. Again, I prefer what the Church taught when I came in: default to mercy at all costs, but not if it puts the innocent, the widow and orphan so to speak, at grave risk. Unless something more realistic, like the suckiness of our current State and its inability to be just, fair, or even competent, is the reason given.

  • Mike

    If you were in charge of Auschwitz you should be given the DP. If you snipped the spinal cords of 7 babies born alive after you tried to gas them or chemically murder, you should spend the rest of your life in prison? Hmmm…maybe both deserve the ultimate penalty.

  • JoFro

    I’m sorry but I will have to disagree with the Popes on this one – while I am not a fan of the Death Penalty, I believe it should remain in the law books and in rare instances, some people may deserve it.

    I’m also not a fan of the whole “chemical death penalty” – why is a sharp sword, which is more humane because the executed is killed immediately , somehow more barbaric?

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Because you have to look at the blood.

      Oh, you mean which is more humane for the victim? Since when did our society care about that?

      • Billy Bean

        Andy, You may be a “bad person” for all I know, but you seem a remarkably sane one. What’s your secret — good, clean living?

  • Joseph

    Meh… the *peaceful* enlightened western countries just renamed the death penalty to euthanasia and abortion. More acceptable terms and now, apparently, human rights. Not only that, both usually end up killing tye objectively innocent.

    Nobody is moral.

    • Benjamin

      Western Europe’s abortion laws are actually by and large much more restrictive than ours. Latin America’s, too. But keep following your prefab Kulturkampf narrative.

  • Benjamin

    The doublethink on this thread is downright astounding. I don’t favor abolition of the death penalty myself (I’d rather like it to be MUCH more rare and administered only at the fedral level, reserving it only for the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Adama Ghadan) but then again I’m not Catholic.

    • Beccolina

      That’s okay, we’re allowed to agree sometimes anyway. :) In this country, I think we can incarcerate someone to the extent they cannot harm others (whether we are willing to do so in an effective and humane way is a different question). I can see how some countries, or some areas of some countries, do not have the resources for that and may have to resort to the DP to keep people safe.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Can we? In the news over the last month, there have been three stories of people killed by those we have incarcerated. Two innocents, and one an inmate killed by a other inmate. That’s my whole point. There’s absolutely not evidence whatsoever that our state is any better at ‘preventing crime’ than it was 60 years ago. It might be argued it’s worse. It’s certainly no better. Which is why my jaw drops every time I hear a Catholic make that argument: we can protect people from those we’ve incarcerated, maybe not other countries. If anything, it might be that other countries, such as those in Europe, do it better. But us? Hardly. Which is why it doesn’t work as a reason to dismiss a teaching that is as old as the Church.

  • Michaelus

    Is this why we have such a low crime rate?

    • Benjamin

      We are average for the developed world in all crimes except murder, where we are much higher than average for a country at our level of development.

  • Dustin

    I found a source for that map at the WaPo, but is there a larger version somewhere? I can’t read the tiny print.

  • Charles E Flynn

    Dustin,
    Clicking the map makes it appear in a window of its own, about 50% larger. Use the back button to get back here.


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