Psalm 34:16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
There are times when we seek to rationalize our desires, and are tempted to go “all Old Testament” about something. In the Old Testament, God was much more severe than he is in the New Testament. Life was harsher, there was a need for black and white situations. We continue to struggle towards a more civilized world.
In America, our justice system allows for the penalty of death in some circumstances. Last year we executed forty three people (name one…). With fewer executions and more people condemned, the population of “death row” has swollen to 3,125. In most cases, this allows us to forget about them, and either be merciful or allow them to eventually die while appealing their case. Case in point, Richard Ramirez, “The Night Stalker”.
Our conflict in this case is our desire for swift and absolute justice, and errently putting an innocent person to death.
Matthew 7: Judge not, that ye be not judged.2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
It is not our place to decide life and death, but we do have the need to remove threats. From a financial point of view, it is no longer less expensive to keep a prisoner for life than to execute him/her. The expense of appeals, both financially and emotionally, is a weight in excess of life imprisonment. But these decisions should not be made by such standards, we are, after all, providing public service, expense is not to be considered.
It has occurred to me that the appropriate sentence should be “Dead to the world”. This would be life in prison, without the possibility of parole, and without access to the media. No book deals, no film deals, no interviews. The sentenced would cease to exist in the eyes of the world.
This is what Yoko Ono desired for the murderer of John Lennon. I do not celebrate John’s life on the anniversary of his death, but on his birthday. I do not speak (or write) the name of his murderer. I cannot remember the name without some thought, which, other than right now, rarely happens. Ramirez had suffered a similar fate, in that he had faded from memory, Manson, on the other hand, never goes away.
By sentencing a person to “dead to the world”, we erase their memory from the Earth, but there is no opportunity to make an irreversible decision.
The best of both Testaments.