Monday, December 05, 2005

Thinking straight about the likes of Tookie Williams

Let's start on a small scale. I'll assume you're a responsible parent. What if your child accidentally breaks a neighbor's window? What do you do? Do you apologize for your child, and leave it there? Of course not, that teaches your child nothing good. Do you make your child apologize, and leave it there? A step in a better direction, but still not enough.

Suppose your child offers to write a book about how it is wrong to break windows? Interesting... but not quite in the "ten-ring."

How about if you charged your neighbor for feeding, clothing and housing your child for a year or two, while you made him sit in the corner for a portion of each day? Stupid idea; we'd never even try it.

No, you want to teach your child personal responsibility, and justice. Both demand that the neighbor not be penalized for your child's actions. So you pay for the window, even though it was an accident.

Step it up a notch. Suppose your child did not do it accidentally? The penalties should be escalated.

Okay, now let's dial it up a bit further. Suppose someone steals $500. What would a just penalty be? Would justice be served if the perpetrator felt bad about the theft, and promised never to do it again? How about if he wrote books about how theft is bad? What if honest, hardworking citizens were billed to provide the thief with housing, medical care, schooling, and food for a few years?

Whatever you could say for or against all of that, you could never call any of it "justice." Justice would call for the perpetrator to repay the $500 to the victim -- with interest (Exodus 22:1). As long as the victim goes around $500 poorer, justice has not been served.

Now we come to murder, justice, and the death penalty.

The "mainstream" (i.e. lockstep anti-Christian) media is oppressively anti-death-penalty. Consider its breathless reporting on the thousandth execution since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977. Why is this newsworthy? One thousand executions in twenty-eight years amounts to an average of maybe thirty-six executions per year. Thirty-six. Three a month.

I don't have the exact numbers in my hands, but I'm pretty sure that more than three people a month are being murdered. Is that the media's point -- that far too few murderers are being executed? I haven't seen any such articles yet, so I'm thinking "No."

Now, contrast this pants-wetting coverage with with abortion. Last I heard, an average of four thousand children are miserably killed every single day, for no more serious a crime than being inconvenient or imperfect, or in a tiny fraction of cases for being the child of a criminal. But that is not deemed newsworthy. I have never seen a story on the four-thousandth child to die in any given day, nor the hundred-thousandth in any given month. Innocent children dying = not newsworthy.

But a convicted murderer being gently, lovingly seen off to eternal sleep -- big news.

Williams was convicted of murder, and his date with justice looms close. The usual suspects are out, trying to break that date.

The problem with the whole debate is the usual problem. A great deal of focus is paid to the wrong questions. Those arguing for Williams avoiding the needle argue that he's a changed man, he's written books, he steers children away from gangs, and so forth.

In response, many of those on the other side argue that the books aren't that great, they aren't sure he's reformed, he hasn't confessed to the murders, and the like. Take Bridget Johnson as an example, who highlights the devastation caused by gangs, and mentions that Williams may not really be remorseful.

My argument would be that none of these considerations should be remotely relevant.

Let's return to our earlier progression. We dealt with justice for stolen money and broken windows. What is justice for a stolen life? What is justice for the case of murder?

To answer those questions, we must ask another. We know the value of $500, and we can easily find out how much a new window costs. But what is the value of a human life? What would justice demand? Would justice be served by an apology, or by remorse? These are often the press' most breathless focus, as if it's all right for us if someone murders another, as long as he feels bad about it. (If this were a valid focus, I gather that neither has been evident in Williams' case.)

How about money? How much is a human being worth? If a murderer paid the state thirty-eight cents, would that cover it? Four dollars? Four hundred dollars? Four million dollars?

I would hope we all recoil from the thought of putting a dollar amount on our sons, daughters, brothers, neighbors.

So would justice be served by billing the victim's survivors to provide the murderer with housing, education, legal counsel, medical care, schooling, and food for seven, fourteen, twenty years?

How could that be justice? How does this level the balance, even the scales, in the case of the taking of a human life, with all its inestimable and inherent value?

God says it doesn't. From the very start, God said, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image" (Genesis 9:6). This standard was never changed, and Paul affirmed that it was the duty of the state to see to it that it was enforced (Romans 13:4).

This is why a great many of the arguments of both sides are simply irrelevant. The job of the court is not to read Williams' mind nor assess his soul. It is neither its ability, nor its responsibility, to determine how bad he does or does not feel about committing murder, nor how he feels about murder today.

The court should consider two questions, and two questions only:

  1. Did the accused commit murder? And, if the answer is "Yes" --
  2. Was the murder deliberate?
If the answer to both questions is "Yes," then the accused becomes the convicted, and he should become a corpse, and he should do it as soon as possible. Only this outcome serves justice (Genesis 9:6), and the moral sanity of the nation (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

So, if Tookie Williams committed murder, he must be executed. Justice is satisfied by no less, no more, no other.

1 comment:

Lenoxus said...

Answer to the original conundrum, apparently: you break your child's windows.