Stop us, before we kill again.
You see, we’re Americans. And, as such, whether we like it or not, we are part of a system of government that supports murder. Some of us do not appreciate this. Every time there’s an execution, millions of Americans feel the pain, and share the guilt.
In six days, another human being will be killed-the proper word, I’m afraid, is murdered–by persons who shall remain nameless. His name is Kevin Cooper and he is now in San Quentin, awaiting his murder. Quite tellingly, his murderers are shielded from public view because, well, who would want their names published, if they were the ones to administer poison into a man who’s strapped to a table, against his will, in a room that could only be called a torture chamber?
“Oh, but Teresa, it is just! It is justice! It is only right, because he is charged with murder!”
Well, no. You see, we here in America speak loudly, and often, about our proud Christian status. Bypassing for a moment the unfairness therein, in that many of our citizens are Jewish or Muslim or agnostic or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist or something else, let us focus for a moment on the “Christian” idea.
What kind of Christian, might I be so bold as to ask, injects poison into another human being, however guilty he or she may be?
Well of course, it would have to be the kind of Christian who doesn’t put much stock in that Christ fellow. It’s the kind of Christian who prefers good old wrath-of-God stuff, who finds the Gospels a dreadful bore, and much prefers the murder, rape and tortures found in the Old Testament and Revelations. You know, those non-Christ parts of the Bible that give us plenty of excuses to kill our fellow man with impunity.
I just wish that we could gather up all the hell-and-brimstone, burn-our-enemies-at-the-stake fundamentalist “Christians” who are just dying for the End Times so they can laugh at all their poor friends and neighbors and relatives will be, with any luck, Left Behind–you know, the self-proclaimed Christians who think that they alone speak for God; the ones who are running this country behind the scenes (and will surely have fits and foam at the mouth because of the Massachusetts’ ruling on gay marriages, yet not worry for a moment about civilian casualties of unholy wars or armless little Ali)–well as I was saying, I’d like to haul them off to a remote part of the South Pole or Houston, whichever seems harshest. Then they can boil and bubble and hate and kill one another-and Leave Us Behind to live in relative peace, and to remember love and beauty and kindness and a loving God.
“Oh but Teresa, the law in our Christian nation allows for executions because (1) the public needs to be protected from dangerous people, and (2) the friends and family members of the victims need “closure.”
First, the public is amply protected when we put criminals in jail for life. Secondly, did you know that death-penalty advocates often go to those family members and friends when they are most confused, worried and upset, and tell them in sincere, hushed tones that they’ll need an execution in order to obtain this mysterious and sudden “closure”? And did you know that getting this “closure” at the cost of knowing that they’ve more or less given the order for another person’s murder, brings on psychological problems of its own?
“But think about this, Teresa: What if death row inmates are guilty?”
I know that, out of desperation, capital-punishment foes have focused on the inaccuracies in the law-what if the criminal is innocent? What if the inmate was framed, or his conviction based on flimsy evidence? What if a later DNA test were to prove him not guilty? Then we would have wrongly executed a man, and it would be too late to rectify the situation.
There’s nothing wrong with taking that tack. There’s just nothing sufficiently compelling about it, living as we do in this complacent “Christian nation”. There are plenty of folks who shout from the rooftop their fairness and their Christian-ness, who would gladly take that risk of wrongly execution. Later, they can always follow our politicians’ example and simply say, “Whoops, sorry!”. Believe me, they won’t be bothered by guilt. They’ve got enough self-righteousness to last until 2045 at minimum.
If we were anything even approaching a Christian nation, you’d be hearing an outcry from those millions of Christians against capital punishment on moral and spiritual and theological grounds. You’d see these people calling their senators and representatives, their mayor, their governor, and their president, to Just Say No to playing God by murdering those we deem guilty. These people would remind politicians, friends and family alike that Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful”, “Love your enemies” “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, “Judge as you would be judged”a*|
I can hear it now. “She’s saying we’re not really Christian just because we support the death penalty for hardened criminals! Why God Himself does! How dare she!”
She dares. She dares those who support the death penalty, and may even get a secret, vengeful thrill out of it, to look at their own black hearts, to see the vile desire for revenge that dresses in drag as some kind of sweet, innocent “justice”. She dares all Americans to face the hateful ugliness that is choking Christianity in this country, the dangerous paranoia that resulted in an ugly antigay speech during a gospel concert at the University of Michigan last Friday night. She dares you, if you are a Christian or simply a person who values justice and righteousness, to read the Sermon on the Mount, and find some kind of way that it doesn’t apply to us–the “Christian nation”.
TERESA JOSETTE can be reached at: email@example.com