Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's all shades of gray

Adam calls for the alleged killer of Robert Manwill, whoever it might turn out to be, to be subject to the death penalty. He then addresses the paradox of a pro-lifer supporting the death penalty, and said it's all about respecting life.
Many people ask me how I can be pro-life and for the death penalty. The death penalty is about respecting life. One of the best scriptures on this comes from the mouth of God in Genesis 9, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man.”
I don't really follow the logic. I guess he's saying that if we allow a person to kill another but don't kill the killer, it cheapens the value of the person killed. He also says that our society does not value children.

I also don't think the conclusion flows from that scripture. For one thing, shedding blood can be something less than death. For another, I don't get anything about respecting life from that scripture.

I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about the death penalty in general, other than if we're going to impose it then let's be damn sure it's imposed on the correct person.

My main concern is that trying to let scriptures dictate something as complicated and important as the death penalty is too simplistic. If I am out hunting, shoot at an animal and miss, and the bullet strikes and kills another hunter that I didn't see, death penalty? Blood was shed. Or, I come upon a man in my home assaulting a family member and I whack him with a bat, or shoot him, or stab him, and happen to kill him, death penalty for me? Blood was shed.

How about if I'm driving a get away car and my partner murders a person in the bank, (felony murder) should I get the death penalty? Blood was shed, but not at my hand.

What if it turns out that Manwill's killer has schizophrenia and voices told him to kill Manwill. Death penalty?

Once you start to allow for the infinite variables, black and white distinctions break down.


fortboise said...

Yes, having "scripture" dictate state-sanctioned killing has some problems.

Oh my God.

The subhead under A ticket to an execution on the front page of the paper this morning gave me a chill:

If he can scrape together enough money for the trip, a Mountain Home dad hopes watching the D.C. sniper put to death will bring relief after his daughter's death.

(The online version didn't have the same sub/head.)

It's been said that deciding to not forgive is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill the other person.

Going ahead and killing the other person... is another form of poison.

alan said...

I can appreciate the urge for vengence or retribution, but it's hard to see how another's death will bring relief. Once the guy's dead, it won't bring back his daughter. Can't say that if someone killed my daughter I wouldn't want the guy dead, though.

Forgiving is so hard. Forgiving can feel like you are condoning the act.

BlueinIdaho said...

A "prolifer" who supports the government killing a fellow human being is not "prolife", they are "probirth". Shades of gray shouldn't be used to obfuscate an issue. If you truly respect life, you respect it before and after birth. Jesus would not condemn a man to death, so why would someone who claims to follow Jesus? In fact, I think that Jesus would have some firsthand commentary about being condemned to death. Just for fun sometime, research those nations who still kill their citizenry and those who do not. Interesting company we keep.