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Death penalty wrong, even for McVeigh

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Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2001 10:00 pm

“A view from the chamber: McVeigh dies silently.” So reads the headline of the June 12 edition of the Lodi News-Sentinel.

For many, McVeigh’s execution brings closure to a tragedy unmatched in our nation’s history. For others who lost loved ones in the blast in Oklahoma City, there will never be closure this side of the grave.

The spectacle of his death leaves me uncomfortable when I think of the biblical phrase, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” and the commandment, “Thou salt not kill.”

Yet here we are, the only Western nation that retains the death penalty — we who claim to be leaders of the free world and hold ourselves up as a model for aspiring nations.

The people who wanted to witness the death of Timothy McVeigh seem to me little different than the Romans who packed the coliseum to watch lions kill Christians, albeit the reasons for their presence were vastly different.

Seeing justice done as they viewed it, as opposed to entertainment.

Yet I am uncomfortable because I have not openly demonstrated against the death penalty and I could be considered as condoning his death. It could be construed that my hands have on them his blood, just as do the hands of the justices of the Supreme Court who have done nothing to overturn the death penalty, and the Congress which has not pressed for its appeal.

And what about the rest of us who keep silent?

The question is raised: Which is worse, the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole? I daresay some men who have grown old in prison would rather have been put to death.

Does the death penalty really deter crime?

I very much doubt it. I firmly believe that murder is performed in a fit of passion, of rage, of fear that arises in a moment without thought of the consequences in most instances.

I don’t know about others, but I intend to send a barrage of letters to Congress and the Supreme Court. I hope others will do the same.

S. Capps Hoshour Lodi

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