I’m with Bronze Star recipient and TTAG contributor Jon Wayne Taylor: the government should not be in the business of killing U.S. citizens. Capital punishment sets a bad precedent. Puts a death-dealing bureaucracy in place. Makes me, the son of a Holocaust survivor who’s grandparents were murdered by the Nazis, nervous. That said, I appreciate the benefits of executing terrorists and other uber-bad folks after a proper trial. Questionable deterrent effect aside, executions save money and take a bad guy bargaining chip off the table. Permanently. In the interest of compromise, here’s what I propose for shuffling Dzhokhar Tsarnaev off this mortal coil . . .
Have the jury that unanimously recommended the death sentence for Tsarnaev form a firing squad and shoot him to death. Let them implement their decision.
It’s one thing to say “give that guy a lethal cocktail” and quite another to aim your sights at another human being and pull the trigger. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. Or even that I wouldn’t do it personally. But if a jury’s going to take a life, I reckon it should be hands-on.
Talking about Tsarnaev’s death sentence, JWT and I agreed: there are people in this world who need killing. I won’t speak to Jon’s combat experiences, but I will speak for myself on this matter. If someone threatened my life or the life of the people I care about, and imminence was imminent, I’d shoot to stop the threat. If that resulted in their death, so be it. I don’t think I’d be happy about it, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s got to do.
Torture is another matter. I will not torture another human being. Sure, you could invent situations where I might violate that moral position. The TV series 24 was all about that kind of dilemma – at least in the beginning. But absent some bizarre and unlikely course of events, I refuse to inflict suffering on another human being. JWT is the same way. If someone needs killing, kill them and be done with it.
JWT claimed that most people didn’t share this view. In fact, they’d (gladly?) torture someone who’d committed a heinous crime. Because, John said, most people aren’t interested in justice. They want vengeance. I said bullshit. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. That’s how most people roll. Especially folks down here in the Bible belt.
I didn’t get where I am today by believing that my opinions are facts. So I asked the lady in the cigar store if she – personally – would torture Tsarnaev. Wouldn’t you know it? She said yes. Anecdotal evidence, obviously. But jarring nonetheless. I mean, really jarring. Because it made me wonder about the prevalence and extent of human cruelty.
Her matter-of-fact answer reminded me of a comment underneath my recent post Guns for Beginners: Buy An Alarm System. A reader said “Alarm? Really? That’s why I own a gun. Any alarm would only serve to protect an intruder. I am not wasting the money.” In other words, he wouldn’t buy an alarm because he wants to shoot someone who invades his home – even though the aftermath would be expensive on all sorts of levels.
Call me naive, but I found that comment just as shocking as the cigar lady’s pro-torture stance. Again, I have no desire to take another life or inflict suffering on another human being – provided it can be avoided. While I acknowledge that there are people who don’t share my moral code, who believe that people who play stupid games should win stupid prizes, I hope some, most of you value human life more than that.
I know it’s not directly gun-related, but I’d really like to hear your opinion on this. Don’t be afraid that the antis will exploit your comments. As other readers have pointed out, there are plenty of anti-death penalty types who have no problem with abortion. In fact, if there’s one thing that separates the pro-gun side from the anti-gun position it’s this: we are not afraid of the truth. No matter how difficult and uncomfortable it may seem. Or be.