First priority: I issue an executive order placing an immediate moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Then I commute the sentences of everyone on death row to life in prison without parole.
On the other hand, I read with emotions and thoughts that are difficult to describe the Question of the Day at Delawareliberal, Does not giving a crap if someone is dying and having nothing good to say about “said” dying person make you a bad person?, where I found comments like this:
[Dorian Gray] So everyone deserves our respect because they just so happen to have been born…like a blind compassion… now I understand why there are so many people who still believe this quaint religious shit.
[Joe M] I think it’s sad that a guy like Falwell died. Not because I thought he held any value as a human being, but for the pain of loss his loved ones will feel.
DV is restricting the question to compassion for the person who is dead/dying and I’m led to agree with him.
Sometimes the world is made better through the loss of someone.
[Sharon] "The point that DV is making is that compassion has to, to some extent, be earned."
The very essence of compassion is that it is unearned. But I guess if someone can’t understand that, then maybe it explains a lot of the comments.
[Joe M] Sharon, you are very much oversimplifying the idea. Consider LGs question: Do you have compassion for the death of Charles Manson (when it happens)? Jeffrey Dahmer?
I don’t mean compassion for whatever made them what they were, but simple compassion that they were humans dying?
How about Pol Pot? Would you weep for Stalin? Mao Tse Tung?
If not, then where’s your unconditional compassion?
[pandora] Unconditional compassion doesn’t exist. It’s just tossed out there when people criticize someone you like.
[donviti] oh ok Sharon,
so I get it, you get to be “sort of” a dick while you are alive and IF inflicted with some painful life threatening illness I can’t speak ill of you? got it, great. cool, it’s lifes equalizer.
being a dick + debilitating possibly life ending diagnosis = all forgiven
got it. Sweet. I’m hoping i get pancreatic cancer so you can say I was a nice guy.
And then I come to today's story of George W. Bush signing the first execution death warrant for the military that any President has signed since 1951.
And no doubt Spec 4 Ronald Gray is one of the scumbags of modern American history:
Gray was held responsible for the crimes committed between April 1986 and January 1987 in both the civilian and military justice systems.
In civilian courts in North Carolina, Gray pleaded guilty to two murders and five rapes and was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent life terms.
He then was tried by general court-martial at the Army's Fort Bragg. In April 1988, the court-martial convicted Gray of two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. He was unanimously sentenced to death.
The court-martial panel convicted Gray of:
_Raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on Dec. 15, 1986. She was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body.
_Raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly, and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.
_Raping, robbing and attempting to kill Army Pvt. Mary Ann Lang Nameth in her barracks at Fort Bragg on Jan. 3, 1987. She testified against Gray during the court-martial and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side. Nameth suffered a laceration of the trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung.
So I reached the decision a couple years back, based on both Libertarian philosophy and that quaint religious shit, that I oppose capital punishment.
There are plenty of people I think probably deserve to die, that the world would be better off without, and even some that I can sense in myself a quite visceral willingness to throw the switch.
But in a society that possesses the resources to confine Jeffrey Dahmer or the UnaBomber for the rest of his life, it is no more ethically acceptable to execute criminals than it is to order area bombing against a target of minimal military significance.
Which means, I think, that I am affirming the belief that even Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein was a human being worthy of unearned compassion. In my parish I have heard prayers offered for Saddam and for Osama, and I ascribe my difficulty in joining them wholeheartedly to my failings, not theirs.
I do not oppose the death penalty because it might take the life of an innocent person; I oppose the death penalty because allowing the State to impose boutique death along with mass mayhem diminishes us all.
I do not accept that the argument of the death penalty's effectiveness as a deterrent has anything to do with the morality of the death penalty.
Gouging eyes would also have a deterrent effect. (And please, don't start drawing the meaningless cruel and unusual distinction. It's not germane to the comparison.)
I realize that this is a somewhat (severely?) muddled post. The issue is a muddling one.
But when I come right down to it, I both agree and disagree with pandora (a position in which I too often find myself, dear lady), when she says, "Unconditional compassion doesn’t exist." She's right: it doesn't.
Yet it should--and I find it a worthwhile goal to strive for.
Executing Ronald Gray won't bring his victims back, and given that he was convicted twenty years ago, I have to face the lurking suspicion that all sorts of interesting political calculations went into finding a victim for the first military execution in half a century who wouldn't excite sympathy from anyone.
Except me, and the others who follow that quaint religious shit.
By the way: the military has also identified the second (and then presumably the third, and so on) person they want Dubya's approval to kill.
Things are apparently overcrowded at Fort Leavenworth.