I’m home sick today so I have time to share a thought…..
A fellow I used to know is in court today and has been accused of doing some despicable things. When the subject of him has come up in conversation with other people that knew him it sometimes degenerates into chest thumping and oath making by someone about what they would if they were dolling out the punishment.
When I think about the anger my friends express I wonder about the root of it. Is it because of the nature of the charges against him or is it something else? We were all shocked when he was arrested. I thought I was a good judge of character and would be able to identify a creep at a 1/4 mile but I didn’t spot him and that really shook me.
I just can’t feel angry about it like some people I know. I feel sad. In his case I don’t think there’s any question whether or not he did what he’s accused of but more about how he should be dealt with. I’m sad for his(until a judge says otherwise) alleged victims and for the turmoil his family must surely be experiencing.
When somebody says a certain criminal should be strung up I share this thought:
When a dog attacks somebody and he’s put down it’s not about punishment because the dog won’t learn from this. It’s not about making things right because his death won’t help the bites heal. If it’s done simply to punish or with anger or a spirit of vengeance then it degrades the whole community(because it’s done with our consent). You put down a dog because it’s a 100% sure way that he won’t bite again.
This comparison is not meant to dehumanize anybody. In Canada we don’t have a death sentence but do put down vicious animals so it’s a familiar analogy that I think could apply to a debate about executing people.
Perpetrators of serious crimes are often characterized as monsters and I think this is wrong. They’re people…despicable but still people. It would be easy to protect our communities if they had horns but they don’t. If you’re on guard for monsters then you might not notice a bad person in your midst.