Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Four years after father's dragging death, Ross Byrd speaks about his change of heart over executions."
July 5, 2002 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"Four years after father's dragging death, Ross Byrd speaks about his change of heart over executions." James Byrd Jr., was tied to the back of a pickup with logging chain, then dragged along a Texas country road until his body fell apart. White supremacist John W. King was one of two men sentenced to death for Byrd's murder. "On Wednesday, Ross Byrd traveled to the state prison in Huntsville to lead a 24-hour fast and prayer vigil on King's behalf. 'When I heard King had exhausted his appeals, I began thinking, `How can this help me or solve my pain?' and I realized it couldn't,' Byrd said."

So much for retribution. Instead of yet another senseless execution (this next to be performed with 18-gauge intravenous needle in lieu of logging chain), ponder a possible healing...a rebirth...crystallizing from the son of a murdered black man saving the life of his father's racist killer.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (57 comments total)

 
I recently heard a bit on NPR about the sister of an Oklahoma bombing victim who attended the execution of Timothy mcVeigh, who very much wanted retribution. Does this mean balance has been achieved? I am inclined to give the victim's family some say in a killer's fate (tho I see valid points in the arguments of those who disagree), but do not think specific instances can tell us much about wether or not this is an appropriate punishment.
posted by thirteen at 11:30 AM on July 5, 2002


Saw this yesterday. Wished I could be as christian as that guy.


However, being a committed humanist, I still think he's doing the right thing.

posted by dash_slot- at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2002


Thanks foldy. That's the second time in as many months, i believe, that relatives of victims have asked for a stay of execution for the cause of their grief. In texas. Hopefully, this will prove to the rest of the public that the texas machine o' death is a systematic being, and many here are opposed to the penalty.

And...
The lawyer said King's racist beliefs were "grossly over-represented" in trial testimony.
!?!
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:32 AM on July 5, 2002


Let those who don't wish for their loved ones' murderers to pay the ultimate price have their mercy. Don't let that be a cudgel to deny the rest the justice to which they are entitled, in the name of scum entitled to nothing whatsoever.
posted by MattD at 11:41 AM on July 5, 2002


It's a shame their killing him by lethal injection. Whatever happened to the good old fashioned noose, or the firing squad?
posted by insomnyuk at 11:46 AM on July 5, 2002


I am inclined to give the victim's family some say in a killer's fate

thirteen,
what you mentioned is typical of Islamic law. I'm not being sarcastic, it is true.
I don't agree with you, families should stay away from this: an execution can't be up to the relatives (which relatives, by the way? suppose the widow wants the killer to fry, the dead guy's son doesn't, the dead guy's brother's not sure: what do you do, let them vote about this?)

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
-- Thomas Jefferson to T. Paine, 1789

posted by matteo at 11:46 AM on July 5, 2002


*their=they're
posted by insomnyuk at 11:50 AM on July 5, 2002


"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind." -Gandhi

Can't we evolve beyond the Code of Hammurabi?

Welcome to the country with the largest per capita prison population in the world. A penal colony country with a death machine state.
Let's all be proud and patriotic about this, shall we? Perhaps we can wrap them in a flag before we gas them?

Caution: Levitical fundamentalism at work.
posted by nofundy at 11:53 AM on July 5, 2002


"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind." -Gandhi

Can't we evolve beyond the Code of Hammurabi?


Yes, lets all devolve (oops, I meant evolve) to the point where the only people who suffer because of crime are the victims! After all, it's usually the victims fault, the criminal himself is a victim, a victim of his economic circumstance and his terrible childhood.

For the type of person (like King) willing to drag someone to death(lest we forget why he faces the death penalty), life in prison is practically an escape from the consequences. He'll have free food, free tv, and free porn for the rest of his life. God Bless America. I generally believe in restitution as a just way to address wrongs, but with certain crimes, I believe that no restitution can be made (such as rape and murder). Payment must be made for those crimes (thats why they call it time served). Hence the death penalty.

It's too bad Byrd wasn't armed when he was attacked, then he could have killed those fuckers, and this whole thing would be over with.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:05 PM on July 5, 2002


Of course, then you humanist fundamentalists would have him thrown in jail for defending himself.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:06 PM on July 5, 2002


I'm against the death penalty, but I don't think the families of murder victims should have any special say in what happens to the perpretrators. Punishment (of whatever sort) is a public act, not a private transaction.

It really doesn't matter what the victim's family thinks.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:14 PM on July 5, 2002


James Byrd is a malignant cancer on this society. His entire life story is one of diseased thinking and diseased action.

Like a cancer, he should be eliminated for the health of our society. He forfeited his life by choosing to murder someone.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2002


James Byrd is a malignant cancer on this society. His entire life story is one of diseased thinking and diseased action.

Man, Byrd's the victim, the dead guy.
King is the killer.

Either that, or you're with the KKK
posted by matteo at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2002


Five Fresh Fish-
I think he should be executed also, but only for his actions. I think "diseased thinking" may be a bit harsh.
posted by bradth27 at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2002


It's OK to get confused though, don't worry
It happens
posted by matteo at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2002


Fortunately the purpose of our justice system is to deliver justice and protect society rather than pander to the whims of Ross Byrd. Why should I care that the relative of a victim has a forgiving nature? How does this relate to whether society wants monsters like King to get the nastiest punishment we can levy?

The fallacy here is that since some people are kind and forgiving, we should all stop executing the nation's most predatory and violent criminals. So what? Byrd is a nice guy (or IMHO very misguided). I personally want King to die. So do a lot of people.

Byrd is making an ass of himself. If that helps him deal with his loss better, then great. In the meantime, King needs to be executed.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2002


King should be dragged to death.
posted by dagny at 12:31 PM on July 5, 2002


Arrrrgh!

C/Byrd/King/

sigh
posted by five fresh fish at 12:33 PM on July 5, 2002


We were talking about this case and a few other death penalty cases yesterday as we sat and watched our idiot neighborhood children try to set their house on fire with illegal fireworks. Most of the people around the table were pretty firmly in the pro-death penalty camp, a couple were in the "no death penalty ever" camp, and one or two were in the "Gimme a gun and I'll take the bastards out myself" camp.

My husband posited an interesting theory. He suggested that the death penalty is the lighter sentence of a choice between injection and guaranteed life in solitary. His premise was that for some crimes, dying was too good for the crimes committed and that the commitor (?) should spend the rest of his life in a small dark cage, alone, with nothing but his memories to keep him company. Which, to me, did strike me as more cruel than a death sentence. (Mostly cause I can't imagine being locked away without books and light and fresh air. )

He theorized that given the choice between a life in solitary with no chance of parole and a quick painless death, that many death row inmates would choose death sentences. I dunno if that's true, but I do know it would save the states a fortune in litigating all these death sentence appeals.
posted by dejah420 at 12:38 PM on July 5, 2002


While I admire Ross Byrd for finding the grace to forgive this man, I'd be really uncomfortable if the state took that into account in sentencing for a whole host of reasons:

1. Is it fair that someone who murders a man with a nice, forgiving family should get a lighter sentence than someone who murders a man with a vengeful, vindictive family?

2. Who has the right to forgive a murderer? How would you feel if someone robbed you and beat you half to death and while you were in the hospital, one of your family members publically announced that she forgives the assailant and hopes he gets a light sentence?

3. Even if the murder victim could somehow forgive the murderer (slow poison? a living will forgiving hypothetical murderes?), a murderer is committing a crime against the whole community, and it is the state's role to protect the community and justly punish wrongdoers.

Ideally we would all forgive murderers in the sense of not holding an emotional grudge against them, but that shouldn't change what we think is a just punishment for the crime. If the death penalty is a just punishment, it is a just punishment whether we hate the murderer or feel pity for him.
posted by straight at 12:40 PM on July 5, 2002


I oppose the death penalty, but think the opinion of the victim's family shouldn't affect the punishment. That said, I don't think they should have shown McVeigh on closed-circuit TV just to appease the families, either.

So I'd say that if you do believe in the death penalty and justice for the victim's family is part of the reason why, you'd be hypocritical not to take Byrd's opinion into account now.
posted by oddovid at 12:41 PM on July 5, 2002


"life in a small dark cage, alone, with nothing but his memories ... [is] ... more cruel than a death sentence"

Agreed. That's why he should be put to death. Cruelty isn't the point of the exercise. Removing evil from our society is.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2002


King should be dragged to death.

Why don't you just throttle him with your bare hands, dagny? And have him gang-raped first, perhaps, since you're obviously such a lofty dispenser of justice?
posted by riviera at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2002


dejah420 - I've often wondered the same thing. If I'd done something this heinous, I'd rather be put to death than be forced to sit around for the rest of my life contemplating my act.

However, I have far more conscience than someone who'd drag a man to death simply because his skin is a different color. Frankly, this guy doesn't feel that what he did was wrong (or, maybe he feels it wasn't all that wrong). That's why he's appealing.

There are two arguments: One is that the death penalty is ALWAYS wrong, and therefore King should live. This is the position taken by Mr. Byrd, and he's a far stronger man than I'll ever be. The other is that Mr. King's crime does not warrant the ultimate penalty our society can impose.
posted by swell at 1:21 PM on July 5, 2002


riviera: With his actions, King said loudly and clearly that he approved of dragging other innocent people to death. For that reason alone, it would be just and fair to apply the same treatment to himself -- just as it would not be just and fair to "gang-rape" him, as you sarcastically suggest.
posted by dagny at 1:37 PM on July 5, 2002


Cruelty isn't the point of the exercise. Removing evil from our society is.

Killing King won't remove one iota of evil from society. The "evil" (scare quotes used to indicate that I am sick of this word and its theological implications) was that King grew up in a society that imbued him with these beliefs. Locking him away is as good as killing him, and maybe, just maybe, he would come to see how wrong his actions were and how perverse his thoughts are before he died. Probably not, since our prison system has pretty much given up on rehabilitation. But perhaps being forgiven by Byrd's son would be a step in that direction.

But to the point of this thread: I don't believe that the family should have any say in whether a killer lives or dies. A major point of the Rule of Law is that it takes judgement out of the hands of individuals.
posted by chino at 1:49 PM on July 5, 2002


I guess I think the conviction to save a life, no matter the life in question, is pretty courageous.

Besides, this racist freakshow won't be off the hook. I think that rape-gang stuff (inevitable) is a sterner punishment than a lethal injection.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:51 PM on July 5, 2002


Cruelty isn't the point of the exercise. Removing evil from our society is.

Killing King won't remove one iota of evil from society. The "evil" (scare quotes used to indicate that I am sick of this word and its theological implications) was that King grew up in a society that imbued him with these beliefs. Locking him away is as good as killing him, and maybe, just maybe, he would come to see how wrong his actions were and how perverse his thoughts are before he died. Probably not, since our prison system has pretty much given up on rehabilitation. But perhaps being forgiven by Byrd's son would be a step in that direction.

But to the point of this thread: I don't believe that the family should have any say in whether a killer lives or dies. A major point of the Rule of Law is that it takes judgement out of the hands of individuals.
posted by chino at 1:53 PM on July 5, 2002


Render unto Caesar...If Byrd wants to forgive his father's killer, so be it, but meanwhile the state, for good or for ill, has passed its own verdict, and the two shouldn't be conflated. If this crisis of conscience subsequently motivates Byrd fils to lobby the State of Texas to get out of the state-sanctioned-revenge business, that would be commendable, but in this instance to intervene is to interfere. It's enough if Byrd communicates his forgiveness to King.
posted by alumshubby at 2:01 PM on July 5, 2002


the article uses these words [regarding others at the prison vigil] "...and former Houston Mayor Pro Tem Jew Don Boney. "

as a non-usa citizen, as a straight question, what does that mean? i mean the "Mayor Pro Tem Jew" part?

I'm guessing I'm being stupid.

But I googled, and only came up with other hits for "pro tem jews" and I'm none the wiser as to what it means.
posted by selton at 2:35 PM on July 5, 2002


Though I admire the compassion of Ross Byrd, it's cheap rhetoric for death-penalty opponents to trot out a relative of a victim who is against execution. Fold, you can't possibly believe that the opinion of family members should be relevant, because you know that in the U.S., most victimized relatives interviewed by the press speak in favor of capital punishment.
posted by rcade at 2:36 PM on July 5, 2002


selton, if you're serious (and I believe you are), here's the answer.

He's not Mayor Pro-Tem Jew Don Boney, he's Mayor Pro-Tem Jew Don Boney.

Jew is his first name, Don his middle, and Boney his last.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:40 PM on July 5, 2002


Byrd may have found it within himself to forgive his father's killer-but I haven't. The mere thought of being dragged to death(!) fills me with horror and an immense rage. That someone could do that to another human...a human who looks like me.
I for one, will be quite happy knowing that racist monster will never draw another breath.
posted by black8 at 2:43 PM on July 5, 2002


mr_crash_davis: thanks very much. I was being serious and it was mainly the Jew part that was confusing me.

I was imaganing "Mayor Pro-Tem Catholic Sam Hamilton" (or whatever) being his colleague.

I never would've guessed it was his first-name though. A very confusing choice by his parents.
posted by selton at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2002


Killin's too good for King. Once again, I recommend the Wheel of Pain.

Here's an argument against capital punishment by Christopher Hitchens.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:51 PM on July 5, 2002


when i was "imaganing" it... I spelt it correctly however.
posted by selton at 2:54 PM on July 5, 2002


A Nicaraguan poet, when the Sandinastas came to power, confronted a Somosista who had previously tortured him and who was clearly terrified. He told him his punishment was that "I forgive you". He reasoned, I think, that the individual concerned would have no trouble comprehending violence and retribution but would be unable to cope with forgiveness and humanity.
I agree that relatives of victims should have no say in setting punishments, that way leads to vengeance, not justice. Justice should be seen to be done, even if you are a limp wristed lefty like me. Which is why I am against the death penalty, vengeance isn't justice and the death penalty isn't just.
By chance I found this Washington Post article, which may not be particularly profound but has it about right. In my hapless opinion.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:13 PM on July 5, 2002


Thanks for the Hitchens link Ty Webb, it's good to see the cow licked egotist back on form.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:21 PM on July 5, 2002


With his actions, King said loudly and clearly that he approved of dragging other innocent people to death. For that reason alone, it would be just and fair to apply the same treatment to himself.

The logic of this wholly escapes me. While you may believe that it fits the bill of 'an eye for an eye', it sounds much more like 'two wrongs make a right'. Turning a foul criminal offence into a 'just and fair' punishment does little more than vindicate the original act, by turning it into a legitimate tool of the state. After all, if the state, by its actions, says loudly and clearly that it approves of dragging people to death, why shouldn't that capacity also lie in the hands of the individual? (After all, as a good Randroid, I'm sure you believe that the individual should have greater powers than the state.) Have a look at that line about 'cruel and unusual punishment', and wonder why it's there.
posted by riviera at 3:41 PM on July 5, 2002


You said it all Fat Buddha, good post.
posted by Zootoon at 5:53 PM on July 5, 2002


[modest proposal]

Don't kill the murderous scum, don't put 'em in prison, put the bastards to work. Chain gangs, damn it! Rebuild inner cities, repair corroding infrastructure, plant trees, whatever. Why waste the slave labour? Crikey - with all the prisoners in America (what is it now, 20 percent of the population? Or closer to 50?), you folks could rebuild the country in short order. Work 'em to death, if necessary! Why not?

And they're not even using the corpses of these crims as meat animals after they slip the needle in - might as well put them to work, regardless of their life expectancy, rather than letting them rot. Be some good eatin' there, once they build up some muscle mass from weildin' those shovels...

[/modest proposal]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2002


But that'd put the construction workers and tree planters out of work, Stavros. Why would anyone want the prison corporations to compete with lawful private-sector employees?

Meat, though. That's a fine idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM on July 5, 2002


with nothing but his memories to keep him company
You're assuming that someone who comitted a crime of this heinous nature gives a rat's ass about regret. That's the problem with life sentence-type punishment. They don't care. Society is better off, and probably safer, without them.


don't put 'em in prison, put the bastards to work
While I don't disagree with this, many of the same anti-death penalty folks will be the same ones whining "cruel and unusual punishment" when they stick 'em on a chain gang.
posted by owillis at 7:56 PM on July 5, 2002


stavros: okay, but only if we get to make fashionable boots and gloves out of their skins.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:07 PM on July 5, 2002


matteo:what you mentioned is typical of Islamic law. I'm not being sarcastic, it is true.

Yeah, that's the scary thing. In the end the family cannot make judicial decisions whether they want to free the guy, like MLK's kids wanted, or slowly torture him to death is completely out of their hands. As Martha would say, "That's a good thing." Victims as Jury or execution does not fly.


rcade: Though I admire the compassion of Ross Byrd, it's cheap rhetoric for death-penalty opponents to trot out a relative of a victim who is against execution.

Ross is a death penalty opponent himself. Should he shut up? This isn't a press release from Abolish DP Now! or something. This is a news article and a perfectly valid mefi post. Ross wants to get heard and he at least deserves that.
posted by skallas at 1:53 AM on July 6, 2002


Hrm, for me the question in opposing the death penalty is not "does the convicted diserve death?" The question is, "Are there some acts that I cannot justify the government taking on my behalf?" If murder is wrong, are there any conditions in which it is permissable for the government to murder on my behalf?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:51 AM on July 6, 2002


The only reason I've ever seen for giving human life intrinsic value is the religious one.

As an atheist, I don't believe that a human being necessarily has intrinsic value. I believe that value, to be real, has to be earned, so to speak. For the most part, the value of one human versus another is not something that concerns me, but there are cases when the specific value of a human being comes into question.

Anyone who defends themselves in a fight (particularly to the death) makes that value judgement: my life is more valuable than my attackers.

In the case of someone like King, it clear that he has *negative* value to society. His existence is not only without intrinsic value but is, in fact, damaging to others and society as a whole. Because his life has, in my eyes, no intrinsic value, I believe he should die. To put him in prison is waste of our limited resources.

The only reason to argue that he should not die is if you believe in some sort of "sacredness" to human life. We are just animals. Some of us animals are smarter and kinder than others, and some of us are downright rabid. You'd kill a rabid dog, right?

There is one other possible reason to spare him: if there is any question whatsoever about his guilt.

While I do not oppose the death penalty, I do believe we should be very very careful with it. If the man is incontrovertibly guilty, then gas 'em and bag 'em. But if any doubt remains whatsoever, then he has to live, in case he is proven innocent in the future.
posted by jaded at 3:51 PM on July 6, 2002


If murder is wrong, are there any conditions in which it is permissable for the government to murder on my behalf?

At which point you must consider whether or not a lawful execution is a murder -- a point I return to in every one of these ultra-predictable MeFi DP threads. It is telling of most who oppose the death penalty that they are incapable of recognising the difference between an act of illegal, immoral, selfish and self-serving brutality which victimises and terrorises many beyond those who ultimately end up dead, and an act of legal punishment which ultimately benefits society at large.
posted by Dreama at 4:22 PM on July 6, 2002


ultimately benefits society at large.

Society doesn't benefit anymore by holding a person for life compared to holding a person for 20+ years and killing him when his appeals are up. In practice, there have been simply too many legal failures to actually pretend to believe society is benefiting at all by keeping DP legal. DNA evidence is a bitch isn't it?

What you're incapable of recognizing yourself is that you're only dealing with semantics. A planned out attempt to end a life is murder. Calling it 'legal punishment' trivializes the issue, which benefits the pro-DP crowd. Not to mention what is in question is whether the government should have the ability to murder its own citizens. The legality of this issue is in question just like, oh say, slavery was.
posted by skallas at 4:31 PM on July 6, 2002


jaded: Damn straight, and pass the gravy.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2002


Kill King (is that the right one? you all bitch so much I've lost track) - drag him in chains until he's ripped apart. In front of an entire stadium. Sounds harsh? No worse than what he did!

Two wrongs don't make a right? Well maybe next time some lunatic decides to rip someone to shreds behind his pickup he'll think twice. Two wrongs will save a thousand other wrongs from ever happening.

Death penalty sucks? You really shouldn't have an opinion that counts until someone you know has been murdered. Otherwise, stick to your news reports and the false sensation that you know what you're talking about.
posted by matty at 10:06 PM on July 6, 2002


> drag him in chains until he's ripped apart. In front of an
> entire stadium. Sounds harsh? No worse than what he did!

And no better.

> Well maybe next time some lunatic decides to rip
> someone to shreds behind his pickup he'll think twice.

And maybe the next time someone wants vengeance, he won't have to look further than the US government for approval of that urge and for an example of how to go about taking it. Examples can be set both ways.

> You really shouldn't have an opinion that counts until
> someone you know has been murdered.

Then just as sensibly, your opinion doesn't count until someone you know has been executed. Everyone else must remain mum.

Chain gangs are a good idea, not only for the nasty guys, and not least because many people in prison (and perhaps just as many not in prison) do not sufficiently feel endebted to the society in which they thrive, and because many work very hard to avoid contributing to society through direct work or taxes or both. Good work on chain gangs should reward prisoners with certain small but basic privileges (some privacy, a few books, a window, a few shadows of life beyond the wall) that can as easily be lost if the prisoner no longer does good work, and then it's back to the predators in the general block.

If you seek vengeance, consider a life lost to government enslavement. If you demand that wrong be balanced with right, think of all the good a single prisoner can do in 50 years (a hundred thousand hours?) of working hard for the community in return for nothing but a few negative rewards (not taking away books, not locking the shutters on the window, etc.).
posted by pracowity at 4:36 AM on July 7, 2002


Here's the thing: growing up in bad circumstances can certainly influence a person into some bad values. But there's quite a distance from that and the act of will it takes to find a man minding his own business, chain him to a pickup truck, and drag him through the streets until dead. Stupid (but otherwise law-abiding) people mouth racist sentiments. It takes something else entirely to conceive and execute the type of evil (there really is no better word for it, even with the theological implications) that we see in this case.

I consider myself a liberal and a humanist. And, in general, I think the death penalty is a bad thing. But in some extreme cases (this one, the Oklahoma bombing, the Sept. 11 bombing, etc.), the killers really don't leave society at large with much choice. Sitting in a jail cell, alone with your bigoted thoughts and three squares a day doesn't seem entirely right.

There are lots of people on death row that shouldn't be there. And, contrary to popular belief, it actually costs more money (in terms of the price of the procecution) to convict someone to death than to house them for life. At the same time, when the evidence is clear-cut and the crime is extreme, you can certainly make the case that society at large has the right to rid itself of certain criminals.
posted by wheat at 5:30 AM on July 7, 2002


At which point you must consider whether or not a lawful execution is a murder -- a point I return to in every one of these ultra-predictable MeFi DP threads. It is telling of most who oppose the death penalty that they are incapable of recognising the difference between an act of illegal, immoral, selfish and self-serving brutality which victimises and terrorises many beyond those who ultimately end up dead, and an act of legal punishment which ultimately benefits society at large.

Certainly I do recognize a difference. The convicted murderer is not protected by an elaborate set of rationalizations that allows us to absolve ourselves of the death penalty as an act of brutality. From what I can tell the difference between the two acts is one is illegal and the other is not. Oh, and the fact that the death penalty serves YOUR interests while other forms of murder do not.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:30 PM on July 7, 2002


The chain gang idea sounds like a good one. In that way, perhaps a monster such as this can go some way towards paying back to society what he has taken away by his actions.

While I believe that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong, I can quite easily imagine myself beating someone who killed my father to death without a qualm. The concept that you cannot really know what these people are going through unless you have been in their shoes is valid but, if you have a working imagination, just think really hard "what would I do if I was face to face with the man who made someone I love die a horrible death because he was black/jewish/gay/choose your minority group". Be honest - how many people can say they would forgive that person.

An abstract person somewhere in a prison is relatively easy to forgive, but I wonder how forgiving the son could be if he was face-to-face with this person and had the means to extract retribution. I would hesitate for maybe two heartbeats.
posted by dg at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2002


> While I believe that the death penalty is intrinsically
> wrong, I can quite easily imagine myself beating
> someone who killed my father to death without a qualm.

And then you would be the "monster" who dashed a man's brains out on the sidewalk. Monster begets monster if you aren't careful. In the right circumstances, I might beat a guy (even to death if I wasn't careful) for killing a pet, never mind a family member, but that's why I shouldn't be the one to determine or administer punishment in such a case. The law should be administered by people who are not prevented by emotion from seeing the whole truth and acting rationally on it. Punishment should be rational and, as far as is possible, it should be reversible. It should never be an irreversible response to base instincts.
posted by pracowity at 11:38 PM on July 7, 2002


pracowity, I don't disagree with you, I was merely trying to say that it is easy for people to say they would forgive someone who did this, but when it is happening to you it is a different kettle of fish.

I don't believe that the victim's relatives should even have the chance to exact retribution, but I just don't see how you can forgive someone who has done you so much harm for so little cause.

I agree absolutely that the law should never be administered in hot blood and that is one of the foundations of our modern justice system.
posted by dg at 12:26 AM on July 8, 2002


« Older Incompetently drawn...  |  The Best Investigative Reporte... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments