Saturday, February 25, 2006

The death penalty

The State of California is having an awful time finding a medical professional who will help them kill Michael Morales. The professional won't even have to kill Morales, just help. (Hey, they could move him to Oregon!)

Lord, I apologize for that and be with the surfeited reactionaries down in Orange County. Amen...

There are murderers I'd be happy to know met an early, drawn-out, painful death. I can even give you their names, and the names of their victims, off the top of my head. Notwithstanding that, I am against the death penalty.

I am against the death penalty because it cuts off the possibility of redemption. I don't mean rehabilitation or making the con a productive member of society. I mean personal redemption of the person, like with his soul.

George Bush says he knows about redemption; he says he's been redeemed. But I don't know how anyone who's actually experienced such a thing himself could ever willfully deny that opportunity to another human being.

It is no good saying, "They've had years in prison to think about what they done. They've had their chance!" No one who understood what redemption actually means would ever turn it down. If they have not been redeemed, then they have not had the chance.

"These hard cases will never change!" Maybe that's true, though I don't know how you could say that for sure, if you really have yourself undergone any significant interior change. Your transformation was not big enough to be impress you?

I guess those Christians who clamor for executions believe each death-row criminal is the rock God made that's so big He can't lift it.

But I don't believe in God, or souls, or an afterlife. Just redemption: being freed from the torture chambers within our own skulls. A civic commitment to the possibility of redemption and responsibility is a common good — for ourselves and our non-criminal loved ones; and for our unloved ones and our disliked ones, too. Convicted murderers offer an opportunity to remind ourselves how important such an idea is.

I doubt that redemption is always possible. But I think providing that hope is not a bad use to which we can put otherwise useless murderers.

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