Monday, March 20, 2006

You're in on a killing

Charlie Sykes' poll on the various views on the gay marriage amendment made the point that I think he intended to make. There is a fairly vigorous intellectual debate among conservatives. Gay marriage not only splits libertarian and social conservatives; it creates a further (albeit smaller split) among social conservatives, some of whom see value in encouraging monogamy and permanency among same-sex couples.

There would be less of a split on the death penalty, but I'm guessing that there is still a significant minority of us who oppose the adoption of the death penalty in Wisconsin.

Here the group that is potentially split is Christian - particularly Roman Catholic - conservatives who oppose the death penalty for faith-based reasons.

As I have blogged before (but can't link to because Blogger won't let me), I am in that group.

Which is why I have to commend, with a great reluctance that I have shared with him, Sunday's op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by former Milwaukee Journal reporter and editor, former Norquist chief of staff, current (I am sure proud to be called)Moonbat, and current guy whose heart bleeds on Eric Von's show, Jim Rowen.

Jim makes some points on the death penalty that I do not buy, but the beginning and end of my position is captured by his closing quote from E. Michael McCann (I find myself in some strange beds here), "you're in on a killing."

I do not criticize Christians who support the death penalty and I do not think being pro-life and pro-death penalty are logically inconsistent. My view is sort of an extension of Christian just war theory. Once an offender is neutralized, then our justification for taking his or her God-given life (however reprehensibly he or she has chosen to live it) is gone.

This doesn't mean I have sympathy for murderers or that I think it is likely that they can be rehabilitated. It doesn't mean that I care much if the conditions of their confinement are very unpleasant. I wouldn't even shed a tear if they are caught, like Jeffery Dahmer and Jesse Anderson, in the wrong place while the guards are on break.

Some of that I suppose I need to work on.

I am reminded of the comment of one of my former partners; a very conservative and very devout Roman Catholic who opposes the death penalty on the same basis and represents death row inmates on a pro bono basis. When someone asked him how he would feel if his client were to be "fried," he said "it's just another day at the office."

But once people like this are no longer a threat, it is not given to us to decide when their miserable lives will end. Otherwise, we'd be in on a killing.


Anonymous said...

I was surprised by your comment about Jeffery Dahmer and Jesse Anderson .
Your conviction seems a little wobbly here.
Maybe they could use you down at GITMO (Cuba).
For the record I have no problem with the killing if it’s cheaper than incarceration.
Of course, almost everyone knows we bean counters, unlike lawyers,have no heart.

Anonymous said...

For a long time I was all for the death penalty.

When I changed my mind, I wrote this

It's only the 27th post I ever made, so it's a little shakey. But I think it makes my point.

Anonymous said...

I especially like the part about restitution.
However, the bleeding hearts would never allow it.

Anonymous said...


I could not get this thought out of my head so I will try to bury it here.
If you go to GITMO (Cuba) it would be a win win situation.
Because you are obviously a superb lawyer, representing those who would kill us would result in their not being killed and not reaping their rewards in heaven (let’s not go there). If you went as a guard (national) your inclinations are suitable.

Jim Rowen said...

Thanks for note, Rick, and for extending the debate.