Executing Murderers

The problem with forgiveness for murderers is that the people who can give it are all dead. For the State or other third parties to “forgive” is an act of moral presumptuousness that implicitly denigrates the victims. The best that the State can do is to deliver retribution in the form of execution. Even better if the victims of prospective murderers fight back and are not murdered in the first place.

I have misgivings about the death penalty in practice because some innocent people are executed. However, none of these concerns apply in the Williams case, since Williams’s guilt was not seriously in doubt. Morally, execution of known murderers is the fairest and least judgmental response and the one that is most respectful of the victims.

11 thoughts on “Executing Murderers”

  1. What are his “supporters” smoking?

    This guy founded a street gang. That should be good for several thousand counts of conspiracy to commit murder. He might as well have set off a small nuclear bomb – wonder if all those idiots would be as eager to forgive him for that?

  2. What anti-death penalty people ignore is that the alternative, life in prison, isn’t much better than being sentenced to death.

    If I were innocent, I’d prefer to be sentenced to death, at least then I’d get a lot of do-gooder liberal pro bono lawyers working to set me free. If I were sentenced to life in prison I’d just be forgotten.

  3. What is also forgotten in the circus, is that the state assumed the responsibility of rendering such justice. Just recall your Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The two families feuding and a continuous cycle of vendetta. That was a real common element of society of his time. To end the process the state stepped in to be the executioner for crimes which it determined merit such a response. As such something which was an accident or not done with intent, warranted a less punishment rather than blood for blood. What the hand wringers don’t grasp is that if the state fails to provide justice, the family may in the future seek justice themselves. Something about ‘powers’ reverting back to the people. That was what in fact street or gang justice does as practiced by the very group Mr. Williams was such a part of. When the state demonstrates its inability to enforce its power, but elements like Mr. Williams demonstrate their ability to exercise life and death, who really rules? Just ask the people who lock their doors and windows every evening, who don’t travel in certain sectors of their city, and who worry where their children are when the sun sets. Their behavior has certainly been altered since I’ve been on this planet.

  4. What if the families of the victims did not want the death penalty to be used against the murderer. Do you think that an execution should happen in this case?

  5. “What if the families of the victims did not want the death penalty to be used against the murderer. Do you think that an execution should happen in this case?”

    I’m pretty sure that out of the thousands of people who were killed by the organization he helped create, there are a great many whose surviving family members cheered at his execution, even though he was never actually tried or sentenced for that crime.

    But at any rate, why should surviving family members have any say one way or the other? While they greive your passing, the offense was not against them and people who have no family are no more or less deserving of justice than anyone else.

    Among its many downsides, justice and retribution by tribe or clan means that if you haven’t got one, you’re fair game for anyone who wants to kill you for any reason. Impartial justice is a great invention, and I’d like to see it improved and strengthened. Starting with the elimination of the thugs currently infesting our “bad neighborhoods”, many of which the recently executed criminal helped place there. Just because you’re not part of the “middle-class” clan doesn’t mean that you are less deserving of protection from predators.

  6. Chel,

    I don’t know. The families of the victims may have special standing in such cases, but the impossibility of knowing what the victims themselves would have wanted makes me cautious on this point. However, I certainly think that the opinions of third parties, no matter how famous they may be, should not receive special consideration.

  7. What if the families of the victims did not want the death penalty to be used against the murderer. Do you think that an execution should happen in this case?

    Let us not forget that the main overriding concern is for the safety of innocent people. Many states in the US do not have the option of life without parole, which means that the death penalty is the only way to be sure that murderers won’t destroy other helpless lives.

    So far as what the victims’ families want, that never made the slightest impression on me. My focus is now and has always been on protecting people, not deciding what a just punishment would be.


  8. Chel,

    We have a young man in New Mexico who killed both his parents. So they gave him life without practical possibility of parole. He killed another inmate, who was confined to a wheelchair. So what are you going to do to insure he doesn’t exercise anymore power than the sovereign state? Not us, you.

    There are 6 billion people on this planet, there are nearly 300 million people in the US. And we spend a hell of a lot of time and resources on some of the most destructive and predatory members of society who’d kill you for a smoke. Around 18,000 citizens are executed every year in our streets, our neighborhoods, our stores, and our schools. No due process, no appeal. There are less than 4,000 on death row, may of whom, like Tookie have been there for decades. Enough is enough.

  9. So James, if there was life without parol in all states, you’d be fine with the death penalty being abolished?

    There are a few other conditions such as the frequency of life w/o parole being imposed, how porous each state’s prisons are, and other practical concerns. But, like I said, I have no real attachment to the death penalty. To me it’s just a tool to protect innocent lives.

    People who oppose the death penalty automatically assume that the judge always has the option of sentencing the perp to life. This simply isn’t the case. They are putting the cart before the horse when they insist that the death penalty be abolished.


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