Thursday, November 12, 2009

But he's still human even if his actions were not

At a little after 9:06 PM on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, a representative of the Virginia Department of Corrections injected John Allen Muhummad, the D.C. Sniper, with a lethal cocktail and shortly thereafter he expired.

And on Wednesday morning, I awoke to find a plethora of headlines such as this one taken from the NY Daily News Online:  “Families of DC sniper victims celebrate John Allen Muhummad’s execution.”  On my Facebook page I ventured upon a status that read simply, “I’m glad that monster is dead.”  And “He’s finally dead, and I am elated.”

I, like most rationally people, find John Allen Muhummad’s actions to be completely and utterly reprehensible and inexcusable, but in the same instance, should we really be celebrating or cheering the death of another human being?  When is it acceptable to gain pleasure from the death of another human being?

And this is not about the death penalty though I do have a few qualms about it.  For one thing, those sentenced to death in this country are disproportionately minority and poor.  Not only that, the number of people released from prison recently after evidence was found that exonerated them only works to convince me that all on death row, or in prison for that matter, are not necessarily guilty.

If you remember, in 2003 once the governor of Illinois realized the flaws inherent in this nation’s death penalty system he took the unprecedented step of commuting the death sentence of everyone on death row in the state of Illinois.

And before you charge me with being insensitive to John Allen Muhummad’s victims and the victims’ families, you could not be more wrong.  I am completely sympathetic.  I shudder to think what would happen if one of those victims just happened to be my son or daughter, or my brother or sister, or my mother or father, or even my spouse.  I don’t think I would ever be able to get over it.

But however deep my grief over the loss of my loved one, I am not sure how the death of another could work to quell that grief.  Again, my heart goes out to John Allen Muhummad’s victims and their families, and I pray that someday their hearts will finally heal.  However, I find celebrating or cheering the death of another human being to be fundamentally wrong no matter who that human being is or what action he or she has committed. 

After all, despite their actions, they are still human beings.  They are still somebody’s child.


Unknown said...

I know that the killing of another human being should not really be celebrated, but it's human nature to feel good that someone so inherently "evil" is gone. They will no longer be able to continue with whatever heinous acts they've committed.

It's not a matter of just right or wrong. It goes back to the Bible, "An eye for an eye." Maybe one day there will be Devil's Island wherein these individuals are dropped into isolation and damned to fend for themselves for the entirety of their lives. But until then...we just have the death penalty.

Bougie Applebum said...

I don't understand the joy or victory in watching another human put to death. Trust me I can understand how some people commit a crime so heinous your first thought is -- they need to be sentenced to death. But to find joy at the sight or news of an execution? Nooo....I don't get it.

My father was murdered years ago, and the criminals were caught, but no one in my family ever thought "seek the death penalty". What good would it do? It surely won't bring the deceased back to life. And like you said, the person is still human. Some might feel a slight sense of serenity at seeing a criminal put to death for their actions...but the feeling of glee will come...and go. It won't last forever, and when all of the hoopla and headlines have died down about another inmate executed, you still have to carry on with reality which is - your loved one is gone and no court sentence, no jail cell, no execution will ever bring that person back.

The DC sniper's actions were absolutely horrible. There's no excuse for his crime. I have much sympathy for the families of the victims. But regardless of whether he lived the rest of his days in jail, or was sentenced to execution - there will always be a hole in the hearts of those lives he impacted. Right now, they might feel elated, but in due time the eye for an eye mentality will passover...and there loved one will still be gone.

This comment has been removed by the author.
msladyDeborah said...

I understand that people were hurt to the depths of their soul by the actions of the DC Sniper. But I cannot co-sign celebrating his execution.

The death penalty is not a bottom line result that I can support. It does not deter crime. How many people are currently sitting on Death Row across the nation? When Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmon gave an interview on NPR, he noted that it seemed too many men of color were the ones who were being sentenced to die. He also questioned if they had received the best representation possible since the economics of attaining a lawyer was out of their income status.

Plus that, I often question how many innocent people might be put to death? Once a life is taken-it cannot be replaced. Nor can money ever really compensate for the loss.

Max Reddick said...

@rainwriter jones

It is human nature to rejoice when a threat is taken away, but I am not sure if it is human nature to rejoice in taking that threat away means taking someone's life. I mean there are cases when you may have to take someone's life to save yourself or your family, but even then I don't see anyone celebrating killing some one, even if they are happy the threat has passed.

@ Bougie Applebum

Exactly. You could kill him, bring him back, kill him again, bring him back, on and on again for the rest of your life, but I cannot see how that would ease the pain.


Those seeking justice are usually those seeking blood. More evil is done in the name of justice and morality than can ever be measured.

@ msladydeborah

I read somewhere that a merely adequate death penalty defense could cost about $100,000. And most people going to jail ain't got two nickels to rub together.

The justice system is very unbalanced. It is still tilted in favor of the haves as opposed to the have nots.

...they call me "L" said...

this post was refreshing to see.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you. Muhammad's execution weighed on me for this precise reason. Though I can understand how it might bring a sense of closure to the victims, another instance of authorized killing evoked for me a profound sense of sadness at the violent manner in which our society continues to address issues. Guess that's just the bleeding heart in me.

Max Reddick said...


What are you doing all the way over here? But it is refreshing to see you nonetheless. Please stop back by soon.

and @ggSpirit

Haven't heard from you in quite some time. Good to here from you. Headed over to your spot now to take a look.

ecclesiastical said...

"...celebrating or cheering the death of another human being... "

It is not HIS death people are celebrating/cheering but JUSTICE.

There is something DEEP inside us (conscience)that Screams for justice when a multitude of injustice as he did.

Biblically, there is only grace and forgiveness for those who repent..

He did not; and therefore goes to the category of "evil" and likewise the Bible says rid the world of "evil".

And additionally not spending $50,000 a year(or more) for a nut case to live in the spas we call jail now a days is somehow a serendipity also.

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