Tuesday, November 10, 2009

against killing killers

I am against the death penalty.
I have conflicting feelings about religion and those 10 commandments, but "thou shalt not kill" seems pretty straight forward to me. As far as I know, Moses didn't bring down tablets with small print on them; no exclusions apply, no seeing stores for details. Don't kill people: got it, Chief.
Someone in Virginia has a pretty awful "to do" list today. John Allen Muhammad is going to be executed today, unless there are last minute stays.
I was in DC when Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo made people fearful to stop for gas and had schools (including the one I was working at) on lock down for three weeks. I remember standing on a street corner with my friends - wide eyed and pulse skyrocketed - as we watched a white windowless van come speeding down the wrong way of a one way street and disappear around the corner on 2 wheels. What if one of us was next?
That was the general feeling in the metro area for too long a time. Paralyzing fear.
I was there. I was affected. I do not want a government official to kill this man.

There is the opportunity here, to explore the affect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Muhammad served in the first Gulf War. There is the link to another recent monsterous news event in Texas. But not for today.


AmyinMotown said...

Amy, this is really good. I remember that time well, too, because while I didn't live there I have family in Rockville and Gaithersburg, where they were striking frequently. I remember a friend complaining about the news coverage of it and me telling her I actually wanted more.

And I agree with you on the death penalty. Like you said, no small print. And I can guarantee you all these people screaming for his head don't feel any more comfortable or safe today. But I get nervous when people start talking about PTSD as some sort of excuse for killing people, especially innocents on such a scale (I saw the same comments being made about the Fort Hood shooter). PTSD is terrible, but it's my understanding treatment is effective. And it seems a little too morally relativistic to say that because someone endured something awful, they get something of a pass on that "no small print" thing.

Of course, if we had a halfway decent mental health infrastructure in this country, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Right now there's little help available between some brief therapy and prison for people with severe mental illnesses, which means terrible things happen when they don't have to. We're far away from the bad old days when people like my great grandmother were able to be locked away in institutions if her huband said so, but have gone too far where now people have to have already harmed themselves or someone else to get even the briefest stay in a hospital.

apt said...

Amy, thanks for the thought provoking response.
Sure, treatment is effective, but we've all heard about the mental health system status of our military. Let alone any individual recognizing and doing something about it.
While I don't think PTSD is any excuse for any evil committed, but it helps me be a little more compassionate, and see the face of evil as a little more human. Or, maybe it's my terribly desperate way to protect myself in thinking that no individual can truly be psychotic without a trigger.
My thoughts are "no small print" no matter what past experiences have occured.