Troy Davis has been on my mind. I got sucked into reading some of the facts about his case yesterday. He quite possibly was guilty. He also quite possibly was innocent, and the guilty person may still be breathing in and out with no threat of punishment. It doesn’t matter whether Troy Davis was guilty or not. That’s not the point. The point is he should not have been executed. It is wrong to execute a man when there is the slightest doubt about his guilt. I believe it’s wrong to execute anybody.
I had a conversation with a devout Christian last night. Well, sort of a Christian. A devout Mormon, a person steeped in that particular sect. A person who considers herself a “good Christian”, who goes to church every Sunday without fail, and thinks about things like sin and Heaven and Hell.
Because he has been on my mind, we talked about the execution of Troy Davis, and the Christian agreed with me that it was a bad thing, but only because of the possibility that Troy Davis was innocent. Otherwise the Christian remains a devout supporter of capital punishment.
It’s something I’ve never understood. I remember learning the Ten Commandments a long time ago, back when my parents still had the power and authority to make me go to church every Sunday. Now, my understanding of a “commandment” is that it is something you have been told to do, commanded to do. It’s not something you can shrug off or rationalize away. Christians tell me that these commandments came directly from God, the real He-who-must-be-obeyed, the big Kahuna Himself.
To me the Ten Commandments seem very clear. I remember one of them being: Thou shalt not kill. That one in particular seems as clear as it’s possible for a commandment to get.
How could God’s voice be clearer than that? “Thou shalt not kill.” See, it’s in quotes. It’s the Voice of God.
Can you find any confusion there? Any vague wiggle room?
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you are really really angry and the person you want to kill really deserves it.
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you get together in a large group and all agree that, in this case, it’s acceptable. You can make an exception this time. I’m your God and I’m not really serious about this one. I’m just putting it in as boiler plate. Just for show. It’s a PR kind of thing, like Republicans supporting the fight against Global Warming. Go ahead and ignore this one.
It does not say: Thou shalt not kill unless you do it all together and spread the collective blame.
To my simple mind, this Commandment could not be more clear and unambiguous. THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
It doesn’t even say: Thou shalt not kill except in self defense. It doesn’t even allow us to defend ourselves. No wiggle room at all.
It’s very easy to find this commandment. Christians tell me it is central to their beliefs and faith. Christians tell me that it is a commandment, not just a suggestion, and that it comes directly from their God.
My partner tells me that some Christians argue “Thou shalt not kill.” is a mistranslation from the original, whatever the original actually was, and that the true “voice of God” said “Thou shalt not commit murder.” Wouldn’t you know it? Their book is the inerrant Voice of God, unless they don’t agree with it, in which case it isn’t inerrant at all. It’s been mistranslated by some previous doofus under orders from King James. This argument brings up the whole question of what is murder, and how many people does it take to agree on a killing before we stop calling it murder and start calling it capital punishment. I see this as just a variation of cherry picking. A fart by any other name is still a fart. If they agree with their book, it’s the inerrant the voice of God. If they don’t agree with their book, it just doesn’t apply, for whatever reason or excuse.
So, the next time a Christian complains that we take passages from their outdated Old Testament to make their religion look silly, asking them why we can’t sell our daughter into slavery or stone our neighbour for working on the Sabbath, you can toss this one at them.
If Christians didn’t cherry pick, there would be no capital punishment in any “Christian nation” and the deep South of America would have the staunchest advocates for abolition of the death penalty on the planet.
They all ignore the actual voice of God commandments which they say they believe in.
I am not a Christian. So I am free to support capital punishment. I don’t. I think capital punishment is a primitive response fed by a desire for revenge, justice, and fairness that is seriously misplaced. It makes no logical or rational sense, and carries the terrible risk of killing the innocent.
If you put me in a room with Clifford Olson and gave me a gun, I’d happily blow the bastard away. I’d pay money to do it. But this is because I’m still a primitive human at the hard wired neuron level.
Clifford Olson is slowly dying of cancer, according to the latest news report. Can’t happen slowly enough for my taste. But even if he wasn’t, he’s a monster. He’s a brain damaged aberration of humanity. We need our monsters. We’ll never understand our monsters if we kill them the minute they are discovered.
Aside from this, Olson will be dead soon enough. Killing him would make us, in no small way, just like him. Even if we do it collectively. I do not want to be a killer. I do not want to support killing. I do not want to be, in any part, like Clifford Olson.
Christians ask me: Why should we have to pay to keep a man like Clifford Olson alive for the rest of his life? And now we are down to the real basis of Christian morality. It’s a matter of economics. It’s about money. It’s just not fair that we have to feed and cloth and house this monster when he has done such terrible things and so richly deserves to die. And my response: Suck it up, folks. We can afford it. America has privatized jails and made them into a growth industry. It’s good for the economy. Chip in the few pennies that are your share to support murderers and feel good about your moral position. Be consistent. Listen to the voice of your God.
I don’t support capital punishment for what I hope are rational reasons consistent with my personal beliefs.
But Christians? They scoff at consistency. They have no trouble with contradictions within their belief system. They have no problem with cognitive dissonance.
Christians can cherry pick.