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The Catechism & The Death Penalty

Dudley Sharp

Review of: 2258-2267, ARTICLE 5, THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church": PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST, SECTION TWO: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, CHAPTER TWO: "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF", The Roman Catholic Church. Most recent amendments, copyright  2003 11 04

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Y.HTM

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All Catechism text begins with the paragraph number. All else are my comments.
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The biblical foundation for the death penalty is found in Genesis 9:5-6 and is based, specifically, upon "shedding blood".

2260: "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." "This teaching remains necessary for all time."

2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. the law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.


"An 'innocent' person."

2258 "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."

"An 'innocent' human being"

Always and everywhere there is the prescribed sanction of "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.", which, is confirmed in the Council of Trent, that execution represents paramount obedience to that commandment.

"paramount obedience" 

2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill," and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.


The type of killing being discussed, here, is the illegitimate type, meaning with anger or hatred, killing innocents, as well as many others, not the just prescription of death for murder. We also have the distinction between personal obligations, as opposed to the obligation of the state to defend their citizens. 

A more full review: : "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment." (from CCC, Article 5, THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, MT 5:21-22)

Jesus was actually raising the bar in the Sermon On The Mount, teaching that having hatred in out hearts provided the proper punishment of eternity in hell, obviously a much more severe sanction than an earthly execution for murder, which may offer the blessing of expiation of our sins, as detailed below.

As with "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna." Matthew 5:22 NAB


With 2263, it is clear that both defense of individuals and the state are described and that both refer to the common good requirement of rendering the unjust aggressor incapable of doing harm, which can only be accomplished by death.

2264 "If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.... Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's."

The degree of force needs to be considered and proportional and that, knowingly, using too much force is unlawful or illegitimate.

This must be with the consideration that we will always make some errors in this regard, unknowingly, and that if we err, we need to err on the side of  protecting innocent lives, meaning an error in degree must be that which better protects the individuals and society from an unjust aggressor.
 

2265: "Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm."

Self defense, by individuals and governments, is a grave duty responsible for defending ones own life, that of another and the  lives of their citizens by government. "The common good" "requires" that an unjust aggressor be rendered "unable to inflict harm".  The definitions of "require" and "unable" are clear in meaning and in context.

It is a rational truism that only dead murderers are "unable to inflict harm".  Living murderers harm and murder, again, way too often. They harm and murder while in prison, both in prison and outside of prion, using proxies, as well as after they escape or are improperly released (4).


Unable to inflict harm is the same as impossible to inflict harm, only possible by the absolute incapacitation of the aggressor - by definition, the death penalty. Is that what the Church intended? I say no.

However, the Church must conclude, as reason does, that only dead unjust aggressors are "unable" to harm again and that we are "required" by the Church to render them "unable to inflict harm".

The Church must solve the conflict between 1) we are "required" to render the unjust aggressor "unable to inflict harm" (2265), a requirement which can only be met with death and 2)  that we must not use "more than necessary violence" (264). Clearly, there are differences between immediate self defense and legal incarceration or execution of criminals. However, there are also problems with the CCC instructions, here, which need to be made more clear.

2266: "The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good."

The "common good" "requires" an unjust aggressor be rendered "unable to inflict harm." 2265

2266: "Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime."

Biblically, theologically, traditionally and rationally, the death penalty is "commensurate with the gravity of the crime" of murder. It is arguable that a sentence less than death, for the crime of murder, is an abdication of" the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime" (Genesis 9:6, Numbers 35:31, Council of Trent, various Popes, Saints, traditional teachings, etc., as reviewed)


There are numerous passages within the New and Old Testaments where the imposition of the death penalty, in the Words of God, Jesus, or in the context of the Holy Spirit, and within Church teachings are mandatory, proportional and/or commensurate. These works provide a foundation of death penalty imposition which, in breadth and depth, overwhelms the recent writings so restricting its imposition. (Reference 2, below).

2266: "The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation."

The Catechism states: "The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense." 2266  This is a specific reference to justice, just retribution, just deserts and the like, all of which redress the disorder.


"primary". 

We must first recognize the guilt/sin/crime of the aggressor and hold them accountable for that crime/sin/disorder by way of penalty, meaning the penalty should be just and appropriate for the sin/crime/disorder and should represent justice, retributive justice, just deserts and their like which "redress the disorder caused by the offence" or to correct an imbalance, as defined within the example "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed." "This teaching remains necessary for all time."

To "redress the disorder"  has various relevant meanings  --  to make amends, to correct the imbalance, to set right, to remedy or to rectify, for individuals as well as society, even reform, all of which may be used in the context of justice, just retribution or just deserts (and similar concepts), all of which have relevance in the context of the religious.

When it comes to reform, the second sentence is important:


2266: "When (the offender's) punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation."

The reformation and correction of the offender is a hoped for, even expected, component of justice or just deserts.

However, unlike the imposition of justice or retribution, which is mandatory, the  reformation and/or moral correction of the offender will be voluntarily accepted or rejected by the offender, as a consequence of free will and grace.

Retributive justice, just deserts and the like must be imposed. The correction or reform of the offender will be accepted or rejected by the offender.

The Catechism agrees, with:

2266 ending " . . . Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender."

" . . . as far as possible . . . " concedes that this is a sometimes proposition.

It is the same with God and his flock, as it is with parent and child. When a parent sanctions or punishes their child, they hope and often expect that such will bring about reflection, reform, redress and correction and, often, it does. It is a foundational with sanction and redress.

Therefore, the "primary" foundation must be that we impose sanction based upon the evidence that the offender is guilty of the wrongdoing and because of that wrongdoing, we impose sanction, based upon justice (and its many similar considerations) and because of that justice, we reap the benefits of that justice, which include the protection of society and many other benefits, inclusive of the hope and expectation that some offenders will seek reform/redemption/correction/expiation, as a reflection in sanction and a product of grace.


All of which are part of redress.

A crucial element of that justice, which is reformation/correction of the offender, will always remain, a hoped for, but voluntary expression of free will by the offender, which may also provide, the immense value of expiation, when the punishment is "voluntarily accepted" (2266) by the offender.

Voluntary acceptance has four components. The offender/aggressor is guilty of the offense, the aggressor pleads guilty to the offense, the aggressor accepts the sanction imposed and the aggressor does not appeal the sanction imposed. Anything short of that appears to negate voluntary acceptance.


Expiation, a product of  God's grace, will be seized upon or rejected by the offender, based upon their own free will. It is arguable, as per Aquinas and Augustine, that the death penalty is better apt to provide that correction and is, therefore, more in tune with the eternal aspects of the wrongdoers salvation (see paragraphs/references 3 and 4 within Reference 2 and also 5, below).

Romano Amerio: "The most irreligious aspect of this argument against capital punishment is that it denies its expiatory value which, from a religious point of view, is of the highest importance because it can include a final consent to give up the greatest of all worldly goods."


"This fits exactly with St. Thomas’s opinion that as well as canceling out any debt that the criminal owes to civil society, capital punishment can cancel all punishment due in the life to come. His thought is . . . Summa, 'Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment due for those crimes in the next life, or a least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation and contrition; but a natural death does not.'  " (Paragraph 3, Reference 2)

All we can do is hope and, in some cases, expect, that beneficial reformation will be sought by the wrongdoer, although we cannot force it upon them.  And, in this religious context, such reformation will result in expiation and redemption, through the grace of God.



CCC 2267    HEREAFTER, THE CATECHISM HAS SOME REAL PROBLEMS 

Always and everywhere there is the prescribed sanction of "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.", which, is confirmed in the Council of Trent, that execution represents paramount obedience to that commandment.

Paramount obedience.

What we have today, in 2267, is the Church making every possible effort to avoid such paramount obedience to eternal teachings and to replace that with a human reliance on prison systems.

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor. "If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. "Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' [John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 56.]

The problem, here, is that no such traditonal teachings exist.

"The most reasonable conclusion to draw from this discussion is that, once again, the Catechism is simply wrong from an historical point of view. Traditional Catholic teaching did not contain the restriction enunciated by Pope John Paul II" ." (7)

"The realm of human affairs is a messy one, full of at least apparent inconsistency and incoherence, and the recent teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment—vitiated, as I intend to show, by errors of historical fact and interpretation—is no exception."(7)

The fact that such teachings does not exist is a real problem for the Church and this radical change, which appears to have sprung out of very thin air.


Even if such teachings did exist,  2267 could hardly be more misleading. 

The traditional teachings of the Church neither exclude recourse to the death penalty nor so restrict it as to make it, virtually, useless, as 2267 imagines. Much more often, biblical instruction and tradition insist on the death penalty being imposed, describes those many sins/crimes for which it shall be imposed and, otherwise, reviews the legitimacy of the death penalty.  


The works of biblical scholars and theologians through today (2013) provide a foundation of death penalty support which, in breadth and depth, overwhelms the writings in conflict with that support. This is reinforced with both the word and deeds of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit in the New Testament  (see paragraphs/references 1-4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, within Reference 2 and see also 5, below). 
The extraordinary limitations on the death penalty, imposed by the imaginings of 2267, conflict with reason, reality and established Church teachings.

There is an obvious conflict between:


(a) the ill conceived 2267 "the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude . . . recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor." and


(b) 2267 rendering the aggressor “INCAPABLE OF DOING HARM” and 2265 the “common good” “REQUIRES” an unjust aggressor be rendered “UNABLE TO INFLICT HARM”, which is in concert with 2260 “If ANYONE sheds the blood of man, by man SHALL his blood be shed.” “This teaching remains necessary for ALL TIME" --  all of which contradict (a). My CAPS for emphasis.
 

The contention that the new limitation in (a) above is a product of evolving doctrine is in error. It is, instead, a doctrinal disaster which conflicts with well known teachings. (review all of Reference 2, starting with 1-4, therein and see also 5, below).

It may be, properly, argued that this radical change is not a change in doctrine, but one of prudential judgementA complete review finds it neither prudent nor an exercise of proper judgement.

Such obvious conflicts shouldn't exist within the Catechism and show how poorly considered and constructed this subject was. 


Then, 2267 continues: "If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."


Consider this newest recommendation: 


(a) "If bloodless means are sufficient"  (2267) in this eternal context: 


(b) "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed." (1) "This teaching remains necessary for all time." (2260)


and (a)'s obvious conflict with Genesis also has additional conflicts within its own document, just as one section above


(c)  the "common good" "requires" an unjust aggressor be rendered "unable to inflict harm". (2265) as well as within 2267, itself, as rendering the aggressor “INCAPABLE OF DOING HARM”.


The Catechism is stating that "The common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm" (2265) except that we should rarely, if ever, render an unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. There is a contradiction.


This Catechism decides that an eternal biblical mandate should be overruled by a poorly considered dependence on current penal security. Astounding. The Church has knowingly done this. 


Another version of the Catechism the Church uses "non lethal means" instead of "bloodless means". It reflects the exact same problems, while trying to escape that blatant contradiction to Genesis 9.

Does the absence of death penalty better correspond with "the common good and with the dignity of the human person"? 


In the first part of this Catechism, the document makes the opposite argument. 


"Catholic teaching on capital punishment is in a state of dangerous ambiguity. The discussion of the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is so difficult to interpret that conscientious members of the faithful scarcely know what their Church obliges them to believe."  "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)", by Canon Lawyer R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003

Commensurate punishments, by definition, better correspond to the common good and human dignity and the absence of a commensurate punishment injure both the common good as well as human digni
ty . . . and there is no doubt that the Church has always found the death penalty to be a commensurate punishment for murder, and other crimes, and that execution represents "paramount obedience" to the fifth commandment.


With Numbers 35:31 there is: "You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death." 

Deserves as in justice, retribution. 

When it comes to commensurate or proportional sanctions, of course we can disagree on what that may mean, prudentially. However, with murder and its proper sanction, I think we are instructed, as reviewed, with Genesis, Numbers and traditional Church teachings that the proper sanction for murder is execution.

STATE PROTECTION

In addition, had EV been properly thought through, it would have concluded that innocents were better protected with the death penalty and was, therefore a greater defender of society and, as such EV would have not created the errors which were then wrongly put into the Catechism.

2267 continues:  "Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' [John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 56).

The Catechism and EV are, hereby, using the secular standard of penal security as a means to outweigh justice, balance, redress, reformation, expiation and prior Church teachings. 2267 cannot stand.

This is such a poorly considered prudential judgement as to negate its "prudential" moniker.

Cases whereby the unjust aggressors harm and murder, again, in prison, after escape or improper release are way too common -   the factual opposite of the Church's incomprehensible finding that such cases are "very rare, if not practically non existent"

The Church and Pope John Paul made no prudential judgement, here, but instead, made a factual assertion which was entirely false, likely with zero fact checking and showing little interest - a grossly irresponsible judgement.

Let's look at "the means at the State's disposal".

All villages, towns, cities, states, territories, countries and broad government unions have widely varying degrees of police protections and prison security. Murderers escape, harm and murder in prison and are given such leeway as to murder and/or harm, again, because of "mercy" to the murderer, leniency and irresponsibility to murderers, who are released or otherwise given the opportunity to cause catastrophic losses to the innocent, repeatedly, when such innocents are harmed and murdered by unjust aggressors, over and over, again. (4) 

Incarcerated prisoners plan murders, escapes and all types of criminal activity, using proxies or cell phones in directing free world criminal activities. All of this is well known by all, with the apparent exception of the authors of the Catechism and EV. (4)

Some countries are so idiotic, reckless and callous as to allow terrorists to sign pledges that they will not harm again and then they are released, bound only by their word, a worthless pledge resulting in more innocent blood. (4)

It has always been so.

The Catechism, as does EV, avoids the many realities whereby the unjust aggressor is given so many opportunities to harm again and does so. Do the authors of the Catechism and EV have no grasp of reality? (4) 

Apparently not.

The only known method of rendering a criminal "unable to inflict harm" is execution. 

"Unable to inflict harm" (2265) has the same meaning as "impossible to do harm". 

In addition, there exists the clear conflict between (1) this unprecedented and unjustified restriction on the death penalty and (2) "Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm" found earlier in this same Catechism.

Which is it? Is the Church going to require "rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm" or is the Church going to require that we do everything but render the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm?


Inexcusably absent from consideration, within the Catechism, is any specific discussion of harm to "innocent" murder victims and potential murder victims and the effects on their earthly and eternal lives when we give known murderers the opportunity, too often realized, to harm and murder, again.

It is as if the Church didn't consider that executed murderers cannot harm, again, but that livings murderers can and do. Stark realities escaped the Church's and EV's review.

Why has the Church chosen to depend upon widely varying and error prone incarceration systems, when the reality is that so many innocents are caused further suffering by known unjust aggressors, because of the failings in those systems?

It appears the Catechism's (& EV) authors never considered the reality of such suffering. (3&4)


And why has the Church done this when it commands "Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm." ? 2265


Here are the known realities of all unjust aggressors, murderers and other violent offenders. They can morally/criminally/spiritually:

(a) improve, which can mean everything in a spectrum from still quite bad to sainthood;
(b) stay the same, a bad result for them and others; or
(c) become worse, a more severe, negative outcome which puts the unjust aggressor and all others even more at risk.

The only way to, humanly, make a criminal "unable to inflict harm" is to execute them. Rationally, factually, there is no other way.


What the Church has done is to reverse its longstanding emphasis on protecting innocents.

This Catechism, to the contrary, has decided to give much more deference to guilty murderers than it has in protecting the innocent or defending society - the opposite of Her stated position.

STATE PROTECTION END


Has a prudential judgement ever been placed in a Catechism, before? It doesn't appear so. If not, the current one would seem to make the reasons clear and would denounce any possible repeat of that error.

“The new edition of the Catechism revises the section on capital punishment. This was not a development of doctrine. It was, however, problematic for placing a prudential judgment in a catechetical text, more problematically so than in an encyclical like Evangelium Vitae. Paragraph 2266 of the Catechism names the primary consideration of retribution, but No. 2267 ignores it.” "There are times when the state needs capital punishment in order to save society." “This is Christian doctrine. “The cogency of Catholic apologetics crumbles when reason is abandoned for sentimentality in consequence of philosophical idealism and subjectivism.”“Absolute rejection of capital punishment weakens the cogency of pro-life apologetics.” “As the Church's teaching on contraception cannot "develop" in a way that would declare its intrinsic evil to be good, so the right of a state to execute criminals cannot "develop" so that its intrinsic good becomes evil. “ “The pastoral commentary of the Church guides moral method, but the prudential calculus, in punishment as in the declaration of war, rests in the civil government whose authority pertains to natural law and is not granted by the Church. To propose otherwise under the guise of doctrinal development would be a species of clerical triumphalism that post-Enlightenment humanists claimed to abhor.“On Capital Punishment”, Fr. George Rutler, National Catholic Register, March 24-31, 2002.

There are at least four Church recognized foundations for criminal sanction; 1) defense of society against the criminal; 2) rehabilitation of the criminal; 3) retribution or the reparation of the disorder caused by the transgression and 4) deterrence.

There is a 5th, biblical instruction, theology, tradition and reason which must guide the 4 others.  They aren't mentioned, because they are a constant.

All of those foundations are better met with the death penalty than by lesser sanctions.

 
The complaint that this Catechism has removed just retribution (and therefore, balance, redress, correction, etc.) from punishment is based upon the reality that 2267  has allowed an improper and inaccurate evaluation of secular penal standards to dominate over just retribution.

While the first sections of this section (through 2266) detail the importance of retribution, as reviewed, above, the later section (2267) provides little time for justice, which must dominate the utilitarian aspect of protection. The Church miscalculates in 2267 and fails to realize the rational reality that innocents are more protected when murderers are executed, even though the Church enforces that reality within 2265.

"While punishment does serve the purpose of protecting society, it also and primarily serves the function of manifesting the transcendent, divine order of justice--an order which the state executes by divine delegation." " . . . it may be argued that such a conception of punishment, rooted in the restoration of moral balance, always presupposes an awareness of the superordinate dignity of the common good as defined by transcendent moral truths." (5)

"Yet the presence of two purposes--retributive and medicinal justice--ought not obscure the priority of assigning punishment proportionate to the crime (just retribution) insofar as the limited jurisdiction of human justice allows. The end is not punishment, but rather the manifestation of a divine norm of retributive justice, which entails proportionate equality vis-à-vis the crime." "The medicinal goal is not tantamount merely to stopping future evildoing, but rather entails manifesting the truth of the divine order of justice both to the criminal and to society at large. This means that mere stopping of further disorder is insufficient to constitute the full medicinal character of justice, which purpose alike and primarily entails the manifestation of the truth. Thus this foundational sense of the medicinality of penalty is retained even when others drop away." (6)

Justice is the soul of sanction. All other results - protection, safety and deterrence - although beneficial and desired, are a result of sanction, not the reasons for it.

Rehabilitation/redress/correction/redemption/expiation have a foundation in just retribution, but depend upon the free will choice of the criminal who we hope will, by grace, avail themselves of those choices.

"The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566):


"The just use of this power (execution), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord."


The Church has gone from "paramount obedience" to avoiding that obedience, by all means.

We have another obvious conflict between two standards:(a) "PARAMOUNT OBEDIENCE" to God (Trent, 1566) vs man's accomplishments within the error prone criminal justice system (2267, Catechism, amended 2005).


There is this additional problem:


2267: "without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself".


The Catechism finds that we should end the death penalty in order to provide alternate sanctions "without definitively taking away from him (the unjust aggressor) the possibility of redeeming himself" (2267)


First, the Catechism states, above, that the wrongdoer redeems himself. The biblical/theological realities  find that all wrongdoers can/should seek redemption, but that God provides redemption to the wrongdoer by His grace. Wrongdoers can only seek redemption, they cannot provide it to themselves. Again, a poorly written section.
 

Secondly, the Church is, hereby, stating that the death penalty is "taking away from him (the executed party) the possibility of redeeming himself". (2267)

The Catechism is stating that the God invoked sanction of death takes away the possibility of redemption. Think about that. There is nothing to defend such a claim, in such a context.

All of our sins have us die "early". Is there a case, whereby God has erased the possibility of our redemption, solely because of our earthly and "early" deaths? Such an interpretation is, in context, flatly, against God's message and cannot stand.

The biblical record, its interpretations, the Magesterium and virtually all knowledgeable Christian scholars and laymen, Catholic or not,  find that the universal blessing that God gives us is that we all have the opportunity of being redeemed "before we die". The death penalty does not/cannot take that away anymore than does a car wreck, cancer, old age or any other "earthly" and "early" death, meaning all deaths, because of our sins. We all die "early" because of our sins. 

It is as if the Church had, completely, forgotten the meaning of St. Dismas' death, his words exchanged with Jesus and the promise to come. (8)

T
hus, the Catechism, wrongly, finds that all "early" deaths, meaning all earthly deaths, negate the possibility of our being redeemed. Such is an astonishing claim, if not much worse.

In God's perfection, we suffer an "early" death, because of our sins. The Catechism wrongly tells us that our "early" deaths takes away the possibility of our being redeemed. It can't and does not. God gives all of us the opportunity of redemption, in His grace, before our earthly and early deaths, no matter what that death may be. 

This newest Catechism cannot rewrite that, even though it is trying to. 

 

Pope Francis states: that “capital sentences be commuted to a lesser punishment that allows for time and incentives for the reform of the offender.”(9)

This is a very odd comment, in that there is no greater incentive to repent than a pending execution that is known in advance.
 
Romano Amerio states the obvious:

Some opposing capital punishment ". . . go on to assert that a life should not be ended because that would remove the possibility of making expiation, is to ignore the great truth that capital punishment is itself expiatory."(10)

"In a humanistic religion expiation would of course be primarily the converting of a man to other men. On that view, time is needed to effect a reformation, and the time available should not be shortened." (10)

"In God’s religion, on the other hand, expiation is primarily a recognition of the divine majesty and lordship, which can be and should be recognized at every moment, in accordance with the principle of the concentration of one’s moral life.”  (10)
 
Even a protestant Christian layman states the obvious:

"One offensive aspect of this objection is the puny view of God that underlies it. God may be able to turn a murderer into a Christian if we give Him 30 years to do it – but not 30 days? Only by disobeying God can we populate His Kingdom for Him? It begins to sound a little like, "Let us do evil that good may come." (11)

"If we spare those that God has commanded us to exterminate, we can't pretend we did it for His glory! The question once again is shown to be: What did God say? with the follow-up, Will we obey? What God said is clear: Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. (Genesis 9:6) He didn't say that to the Jews (there were no Jews yet); He said it to Noah and his family – to the entire population of the earth." (11)
 
Furthermore, a unique benefit of the death penalty is that the offender knows the day of their death and therefore has a huge advantage over the rest of us and, most certainly over the innocent murder victim.

 ". . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy." Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: (p. 116). Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey. A Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College, Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992

St. Thomas Aquinas: "The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers." Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.


Footnotes and Related Topics 

New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

For more than 2000 years, there has been Catholic/Christian New Testament support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary, particulalry those dependent upon secular concerns such as defense of society and the poor standards of criminal justice systems in protecting the innocent.

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

Jesus and the Death Penalty

"All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

"Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars"


Christianity and the death penalty.

Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,

The Woman Caught in Adultery, the Death Penalty & John 8:2-11

Is There a Biblical Requirement for Two Eyewitnesses for Criminal Prosecution?


THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
and
THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

"Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

Is Execution Closure? Of Course.
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/is-execution-closure-of-course.html 

95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty
US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/04/us-death-penalty-support-at-80-world.html

Murder Victims' Families Against The Death Penalty: 
More Hurt For Victims Families

Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review

A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on the Death Penalty

FOOTNOTES

1) Genesis 9:5-6 - "For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life. If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made." (NAB)

2) Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars

3) Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement and the death penalty

4) The Holy See could find these types of cases, below,  every day, seemingly, forever, if it cared to look. It seems likely that hundreds or thousands of innocents die, everyday, because of the irresponsibility of prison systems allowing unjust aggressors to harm and murder, again, in contradiction of the willful ignorance within EV and CCC 2267.
======

The following suggests that some 200,000 innocents were murdered buy those criminals the US released from custody, just since 1973, which does not include the staggering numbers of additional innocents harmed by non lethal violent crimes, such as rape and robbery.

"Of these (repeat offender state) prisoners, (imprisoned in 1991), 45% had committed their latest crimes while free on probation or parole."

"When "supervised" on the streets, they inflicted at least 218,000 violent crimes, including 13,200 murders and 11,600 rapes (more than half of the rapes against children)."

This is just from  a review of state (and no federal) prisoners for one year -  1991! . . .

and 

THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE:

1) THE ADDITIONAL SLAUGHTER COMMITTED BY CRIMINALS RELEASED, BUT NOT ON PAROLE OR PROBATION, NOR 
2) THOSE CRIMES COMMITTED BY CRIMINALS WE CHOSE NOT TO INCARCERATE and not on probation, nor
3) Those many unsolved crimes, of which many, if not most, were commiteed by repeat offenders, nor
4) Does it include rimes commited by any federal prisoners.

"Prisons are a bargain, by any measure", John J. DiIulio, Jr., OPINION, New York Times, 1/16/96
======

"At least 20 members of the security forces were killed . . ." ". . . 500 (t0 1200) prisoners had escaped from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Most of them were senior members of al-Qaeda who had been sentenced to death . . ."

"Iraq jailbreaks: Hundreds escape in Taji and Abu Ghraib", 





"The use of prisons as a means of recruiting new members into terrorist organizations while providing advanced training to existing members is hardly a new phenomenon. FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS (my emphasis) , European countries have been beset by a variety of nationalist and leftist terrorist groups, some of them highly sophisticated organizations with large rosters of combat and support personnel."

" . . . in October 2003, John Pistole, the FBI’s executive assistant director of counterterrorism/counterintelligence, called U.S. correctional institutions a “viable venue for radicalization and recruitment” for al-Qaeda. Harley Lappin, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, sees the bloated prison population of disgruntled and violent inmates as being 'particularly vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists.'

"Prisons and the Education of Terrorists", Ian M. Cuthbertson, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL, FALL 2004
======

"The Bali bombers were allowed to preach to the prison population, radicalising scores of impressionable young Muslims, as well as fund and organise subsequent attacks from their cells."

"Hell in the heart of paradise",  4:40PM Monday November 23, 2009 Source: AAP
======

Anwar al Awlaki, released from prison based upon his word.

al Awlaki was a spiritual leader at two mosques where three 9/11 hijackers worshipped, a native-born U.S. citizen who left the United States in 2002, was arrested in 2006 with a small group of suspected al-Qaida militants in the capital San'a. He was released more than a year later after signing a pledge he will not break the law or leave the country. He is now missing and encourages violence against Americans from his website,

al Awlaki used his site to declare support for the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab and celebrated the acts of US Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who murdered 13 and wounding 29 in a shooting spree.

al Awlaki called upon other Muslim's to duplicate those acts. "Radical imam praises alleged Fort Hood shooter", Associated Press, 11/9/09, 6:19 pm ET

"New Evidence Suggests Radical Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki Was an Overlooked Key Player in 9/11 Plot"

al-Awalaki killed, no longer a threat

"Al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is dead, says Yemen", Martin Chulov in Beirut, The Guardian, Friday 30 September 2011 04.53 EDT
======

16 al Quaeda Escape in Jailbreak in Ira
======

Repeat murderer, fakes paralysis,  escapes, murders, again.

Twice convicted murderer Alva "Campbell, faked paralysis and escaped from custody when he was being taken to court in a wheelchair. Using a gun he took form a deputy sheriff, he carjacked (Joe) Dials, 18, robbed and killed him."

Younger brother Charles Dials called Joe a  father figure: “He was an awesome big brother, the go-to guy. Everybody loved him. It was a devastating blow for our family.”

Campbell murdered another wonderful person, in 1972, William S. Dovalosky, from Cleveland.

Execution date set for Columbus killer, By Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch, March 28, 2013 12:09PMhttp://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/03/28/execution-date-set-for-Columbus-killer.html
======

23 escape from Yemen prison, 13 are al Quaeda
http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/profiles/massive_jailbreak_in_yemen.htm
======

Governor commutes 108 year sentence: Offender later murders 4 policemen, while on bond for child rape

Governor rejects any responsibility for his own multiple failures, but blames others.

Mike Huckabee Granted Clemency to Maurice Clemmons
By BRIAN MONTOPOLI/CBS NEWS/ November 30, 2009, 10:50 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-5835831-503544.html      and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Clemmons    
======

Inmate claims to be "cripple". Surprise!

Repeat sex offender,"cripple" serving life, overpowers guards, escapes
======

Inmates run prison.

“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt." 

"The Black Guerilla Family was founded in California in the 1960s but now operates nationwide in prisons and on the streets of major U.S. cities, including Baltimore. It arrived in Maryland’s prison system in the 1990s, according to the Justice Department, and is increasingly involved in narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault and homicides. By 2006, federal authorities say, the BGF had become the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center."


Prison Gang Runs Prison, Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering and Impregnate 4 Guards:
"3 corrections officers indicted in Md., accused of aiding gang’s drug scheme", Washington Post, 4/23/13
======

Inmate changes clothes, walks out of jail.


 Officials "embarrassed" by Texas death row inmate escape, Houston Chronicle, November 06, 2005
http://www.policeone.com/corrections/articles/120563-Officials-embarrassed-by-Texas-death-row-inmate-escape/

". . . Thompson claimed he had an appointment with his lawyer and was taken to a meeting room. However, the visitor was not Thompson's attorney." "After the visitor left, Thompson removed his handcuffs and his bright orange prison jumpsuit and got out of a prisoner's booth that should have been locked. He then left wearing a dark blue shirt, khaki pants and white tennis shoes, carrying a fake identification badge and claiming to work for the Texas Attorney General's office." "This was 100 percent human error; that's the most frustrating thing about it." "There were multiple failures." Trial jurors and victim's relatives were terrified.
======

Inmate, double cop murderer, runs prison.

Ronell Wilson, a former New York City street gang member, sentenced to death in the execution-style slayings of 2 police officers "was permitted to treat the Metropolitan Detention Center  as his own fiefdom,"  U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said. 

" . . . authorities revealed Wilson fathered a child with a jail guard . . ."  "The judge called the killing of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews ' 1 of the most grisly and horrific crimes the city has ever seen.' "  "Wilson proved he was remorseless by repeatedly acting out behind bars after winning an appeal", the judge said.


5) "Evangelium Vitae, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Death Penalty", p 519, Steven A. Long, The Thomist, 63 (1999): 511-552

6) ibid, p 522

7)   "Capital Punishment and the Law", Ave Maria Law Review, 2007 (30 pp)by Kevin L. Flannery S.J.Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 2002) and Ordinary Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University(Rome); and Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics andCulture (University of Notre Dame)
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:h8SOa_PCnY4J:legacy.avemarialaw.edu/lr/assets/articles/V5i2.flannery.copyright.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjNeu7Lit4bvEAtVFPhrwPE62-ZU7jnPg30YxEcl5XUQCIBNHd89w01bohK1M5VG1NtEs0BJzsl5MRQL7OAZ70MCFVmkiYffZ6Deg9m2sylOYtCqS-Yt3suZv2F0WonIqwmFd4_&sig=AHIEtbTktNqEN1pDq6bB2GUsYol2dXmUyg

8) Luke 23:39-43 "Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Jesus) replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (NAB).

It is not about the method of earthly death, but the message of eternal salvation.

9) Pope Francis
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/papal-message-reaffirms-call-to-abolish-death-penalty#ixzz2XEdlpQbI

10) “Amerio on capital punishment “, Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum, May 25, 2007 ,www.domid.blogspot.com/2007/05/amerio-on-capital-punishment.html

11) Jesus and the death penalty: "They may become Christians", Dan Popp, June 23, 2013

======

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

86% US Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever? April 2013

Dudley Sharp

RE: April 29, 2013 Angus Reid Poll (1) - THE POLL YOU NEVER HEARD OF

86% death penalty support (1), the highest I have ever located (2)


22% of the 86% finding the death penalty "always appropriate" (1), the highest I have ever located (2)
64% of the 86% finding the death penalty "sometimes appropriate" (1)
9% finding the death penalty "never appropriate" (1), the lowest I have ever located (2)

78% death penalty support was found from another Angus Reid question, within the same poll (5).

Yet, October 29, 2013, just 6 months later,  Gallup finds:

60% death penalty support, their lowest in 40 years (3).

70% death penalty support was found from another Gallup question, within the same poll (4).

THE POLL YOU NEVER HEARD OF (6)

Gallup had 371  Google search hits within three days of their news release (6)


Angus Reid had 0 - no one carried it - Zero (6)


You never heard of the 86% (or 78%) from Angus Reid, because the media didn't want you to (6).

Everyone heard about the 60% Gallup poll, because the media wanted you to (6).

POLLING ACCURACY


Angus Reid was #1, Gallup #26, with the most recent polling company comparisons (7). 


The Angus Reid Poll provides an accurate measure of death penalty support, with an answer of  "sometimes appropriate", which Gallup  does not (1&3).


When Gallup does allow for the "sometimes appropriate" response, as with their death penalty support poll for mass murderer/bomber Timothy McVeigh, support goes to 81%, showing how consistent support is - 80-86% - when, properly using the "sometimes appropriate" response.

======

A separate question (5), within the Angus Reid poll, with a negative inference bias, against the death penalty, had these results:

78% death penalty support
16% death penalty opposition

Preference Poll from same Angus Reid poll:


LWOP vs the Death Penalty

59% prefer the death penalty over a life sentence, which is preferred by 25% --  the death penalty preferred 240% more.

This is a preference poll, not an exclusion poll. 


For example, 84% may support the death penalty, and wish to retain it, with 25% of the 84% having a life sentence preference, and 59% of the 84% having a  preference for the death penalty, with both groups, still supporting the death penalty at 84%, with the same respondents.


Although Quinnapiac and Gallup claim this shows lower support for the death penalty, support dropping form 84% to 59%, there is zero evidence to support their claim (2) . Why would death penalty support, suddenly drop 25 points, from the same respondents? It wouldn't.

If 95% support LWOP and if the preference poll shows that 25% prefer LWOP, does that mean that LWOP support suddenly dropped 70%, with the same respondents, at the same time?

Of course not, but that is Gallup and Quinnapiac's illogic

Would Gallup and Quinnapiac even make such a ridiculous claim with LWOP? Of course not. That is why their interpretation, that a preference poll shows reduced support for the death penalty simply appears to be their wishful bias against the death penalty and nothing else.


Does Gallup have a bias supportive of the anti death penalty movement? 


Additional evidence:

Gallup speculates "The current era of lower support may be tied to death penalty moratoriums in several states beginning around 2000 after several death-row inmates were later proven innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted. More recently, since 2006, six states have repealed death penalty laws outright, including Maryland this year." (3)


With no proof, Gallup parrots and speculates the exact line that anti death penalty folks use, in contradiction to both the truth and the polls.

There is a 70-83% error rate in the anti death penalty claims of "innocence" or "exonerated" (8).


Let's see what the polls say:


"A Nov. 2010 poll showed that a large majority, 81%, believes that innocents have been executed and, with that same group, responding to the "general" death penalty question, found 83% death penalty support and 13% opposition." (2). 

"That shows no evidence that the US population has turned away from executions based upon the, largely, misleading innocence claims by anti death penalty folks (2)."


I would be surprised if Gallup was unaware of those results.


Gallup even parrots another standard anti death penalty error, that "six states have repealed the death penalty outright . . .". New York State did not repeal their statute, at all. The New York Court of Appeals found the statute unconstitutional.


Gallup didn't even fact check this well known anti death penalty error. The just bought it and used it.


The reason those 5 states were capable of repeal, had nothing to do with the false anti death penalty claims, parroted by Gallup,  but was because those 5 states had a Democratic Governor, with a Democratic majority in the legislature,  at the same time the majority of their citizens supported the death penalty.


Gallup, reality is better than biased speculation. 

Footnotes

1) Support for Death Penalty in U.S. Surges After Boston Bombing, Angus-Reid Global, April 29, 2013, 

www.angusreidglobal.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/04/2013.04.29_Death_USA.pdf

Based upon the question: "Which of these statements comes closest to your own point of view about the death penalty?" Angus Reid

86% death penalty support, totaled from
22% the death penalty is "always appropriate"   plus
64% the death penalty is "sometimes appropriate"


9% the death penalty is "never appropriate"

Benefit: The question allows reality based replies for those who 1) sometimes support the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crimes,  (2) those who always support the death penalty and (3) those who never support the death penalty, no matter the crimes - the true for and against positions.

These should be the death penalty answers we are looking for, from the question:


Do you support the death penalty for murder/capital murders?:

Always
Sometimes
Never

2) US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/04/us-death-penalty-support-at-80-world.html

3)  U.S. Death Penalty Support Lowest in More Than 40 Years: Sixty percent of Americans favor death penalty for convicted murderers, by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup, October 29, 2013,http://www.gallup.com/poll/165626/death-penalty-support-lowest-years.aspx

based upon the question:  "Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?". 


Yes 60%

No   35%

Problems: For most, the answer would not be a "yes or no", but a "yes and no".  Most individuals support the death penalty "sometimes", as Angus Reid measures, but Gallup does not. Gallup fails to give a "sometimes" option, which suppresses the support percentage and expands the against percentage, because their question doesn't allow for that consideration. 


As a rule, established with all other polls,  if you avoid the sometimes and never answers, you won't receive the answers that reflect true death penalty support or opposition, because the vast majority of folks "sometimes" support the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the murder, just as we do with all sanctions, the true support position, and a minority never supports the death penalty, regardless of how cruel the murders and/or the number of victims, the true opposition position, both of which are measured in the Angus Reid poll and neither of which are measured in the Gallup poll.


Reality also conflicts with the Gallup poll, because about 90% of murders are not death penalty eligible, reflecting why the "sometimes" answer provides more accuracy, with the advantage of also reflecting reality, with the Gallup question producing less accurate answers, in conflict with reality.

Gallup is aware of this (2).


Gallup confirms this, when they polled for a specific, horrendous, capital  crime, allowing for the "sometimes" and "never" answers, within their poll about death penalty support for mass murderer, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, showing 81% support (2), reflecting the "sometimes" answer , with 16% opposition, reflecting the "never" answer.



Not surprisingly, this mirrors, almost exactly, poll results from Angus Reid and  Quinnipiac:

82% support and 16% opposition  is the average of Qinnipiac polling since 2000 (2) , using those same combinations with always, sometimes and never responses


as with Angus Reid


83%  support, 13% opposed (11/09/10)  (2)


80%  support, 12% opposed (10/4/11)  (2)



All of which support that the sometimes and never responses provide for a more accurate poll.

The best way to get clear answers, is to ask clear questions,  which for the death penalty are:

Do you support the death penalty for murder?
Always
Sometimes
Never

"Always" could be left out, as they will be found in the sometimes response, but is of interest, in contrast to the "never" answer. 


4)  Gallup: "In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed too often, about the right amount, or not often enough." 

"Not often enough" (44%) and "about the right amount" (26%) totaled 70%.

Sharp: This rise in support is based upon a consideration of circumstance: "sometimes".


5)  Angus Reid "As you may know, many countries around the world have abolished the death penalty, but not the United States. All things considered, do you support or oppose the possibility of prosecutors relying on the death penalty for murder cases in the United States?"

Sharp: This provides for the respondent to consider circumstances "possibility", providing the "sometimes" answer. With the negative bias, I am surprised at the 78% support.


Angus could have asked: Alternate question, with a positive bias, instead: "As you know, the majority of countries around the world still have the death penalty, as does the US. All things considered, do you support or oppose the possibility of prosecutors relying on the death penalty for murder cases in the United States?"

6) Gallup had 371  Google search hits within the first three days of their news release (a), Angus Reid had 0 (b).

a)  I did 1 search using Google, for the  first three days of the Gallup News Release
I got 371 hits within the three day search period of   10/29-31/2013, for the search, which was: 
poll "death penalty" gallup 60%
search conducted 6:10 am CST 11/01/2013

b) I did 1 search using Google, for the first 3 days of the Angus Reid News Release
I got 0 hits within the three day period of 4 /29 -  5/1/2013, for the search, which was: 
poll "death penalty" angus reid 78%

Gallup suggested and presented 20 hits, none of which referred to the death penalty poll.
search conducted 6:41 am CST 11/01/2013

I didn't present an 86% poll result search, because Angus Reid, oddly, never used the 86%, in either their News Release or report, but broke down the numbers, as I reported, which showed 86% support.


My informed speculation is that AR was afraid of the 86% support result, as the media is abandoning use of AR death penalty polls, as detailed, because the anti death penalty media doesn't like the AR results, which in AR's previous polls were similar - 81 and 83%, which AR highlighted, as opposed to repressing, as they did with the 86%, even though they are the same polling methods - equals with the 81-83% support polls -  as opposed to the 78%, highlighted in the April 2013 poll, with that different question and response, secondary, in those two prior AR polls.

7)   11/10/2012    A Daily Kos blogger reworked the Fordham study (below) , using updated data, and found. 
Angus-Reid #1
Gallup #26
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/10/1160222/-Updated-most-accurate-pollster-list-Angus-Reid-1


The final tallies from the 2012 presidential election proved the Daily Kos  blogger correct.

11/7/2012  The Fordham review found
Angus-Reid #11
Gallup #24
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fordham-study-public-policy-polling-deemed-most-accurate-national-pollster-in-2012


8) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
and
THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-innocent-frauds-standard-anti-death.html

The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

Dudley Sharp
======
Related topics, below

No Death Penalty = More Innocent Deaths and 

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES 
======

At least since Sacco and Vanzetti, the anti death penalty movement has been presenting guilty murderers as innocent (1).  Though Sacco and Vanzetti's guilt was well known to a small cadre of anti death penalty folks and anarchists, they still allowed riots and other violence to take place, based upon the fraud of their innocence (1), in a well  orchestrated campaign, similar to those of today, such as the Troy Davis case (8) or the 142 "exonerated" or "innocent" frauds (2).


These frauds are easily discovered by basic fact checking yet, many in the media and academia advance these frauds, instead of exposing them.


False innocence claims: the many, the blatant, the legendary:



1) see Sacco and Vanzetti, within both:


a) Guilty: Sacco and Vanzetti

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/08/guilty-sacco-and-vanzetti.html

"(Author Upton) Sinclair met with Fred Moore, (Sacco and Vanzetti's defense) attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago."

"Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth," Sinclair wrote. " ... He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them." 


b) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/08/the-innocent-executed-deception--death-penalty-opponents--draft.aspx


2) Roger Keith Coleman


The classic Cause Celebre, anti death penalty case is put together like this: 


Imagine facts that evidence won't support, but make it real, anyway. And keep it going for years and years (1).


Anti death penalty activist Jim McCloskey spent 14 years championing Coleman's innocence. 


He created a case of an innocent executed and knew the media will come.  And, boy, did they.


Here is McCloskey's assessment of the state's case against Coleman:


"The (state's) case was built on innuendos and lies and ludicrous, insane theory that falls flat in the face of common sense." (2)


This is a classic quote of anti death penalty infamy, duplicating so many others.  


Mr. McCloskey, look in the mirror.  Coleman's guilt was confirmed by DNA.


For some time, Coleman's defense team concentrated on the "real murderer", with whom they, later, had to make an out of court settlement


 

3)  The Blatant Fraud -  The 142 "exonerated" from death row

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) simply decided to redefine both "exonerated" and "innocent", in the same fashion as if they redefined "lie" as "truth". 


       a) The 130 (now 142) death row "innocents" scam

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

     b)  The "Innocent", the "Exonerated" and Death Row

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-innocent-exonerated-and-death-row_19.html

An Open Fraud in the Death Penalty Debate: How Death Penalty Opponents Lie


This is a look at how well destroyed the "EXONERATED" and/or "INNOCENTS" list is and how it has been so deceptively used by the anti death penalty movement.


 

4)  Florida: The 83% error rate in "exoneration" claims. 

4 of the 24 "exonerated" may be innocent, as found in 2 studies by a Florida state agency, the Florida Commission on Capital Cases.  It is no surprise that the 24 "exonerated" claim comes from the deceptive DPIC.


This may represent the worst case of media deception, as the Florida media has known the real numbers since 2002 (updated 2011)  but refuses to use them, instead, pushing the well known DPIC deception of the 23/24 "exonerated". That is how bad it has gotten.

From page 5 (2002 study) and page 7 (2011 study):


"The guilt of only four defendants was subsequently "doubted" by the prosecuting office or the Governor and Cabinet members: Freddie Lee Pitts and Wilbert Lee were pardoned by Governor Askew and the Cabinet, citing substantial doubt of their guilt, Frank Lee Smith died before the results of DNA testing excluded him as the perpetrator of the sexual assault, and the State chose not to retry James Richardson due to newly discovered evidence and the suspicion of another perpetrator."  


"doubted", not confirmed. 


           a)  Case Histories: A Review of 24 Individuals Released from Death Row (2002), FLORIDA COMMISSION ON CAPITAL CASES, Locke Burt, Chairman, June 20, 2002, Revised: September 10, 2002

http://www.floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us/Publications/innocentsproject.pdf

            b)  TRULY INNOCENT?: A Review of 23 Case Histories of Inmates Released from Florida‘s Death Row Since 1973, Commission on Capital Cases, The Florida Legislature, Roger R. Maas, Executive Director, May 13, 2011
http://www.floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us/Publications/casehistory05-13-11%20Report.pdf

 

5) "The innocence tactic: Unreliable studies and disinformation", reports By United States Congress, Senate, 107th Congress, 2d Session, Calender no 731, Report 107-315. The Innocence Protection Act of 2002, (iv) The innocence tactic: Unreliable studies and disinformation, p 65-69    http://alturl.com/6j7oc

"Death penalty opponents have decided that, if a large enough risk of mistaken executions does not exist, they will invent it."



6) "The Myth Of Innocence"­, Joshua Marquis, pu­blished in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminolog­y - 3/31/2005, Northweste­rn University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois

http://coastda.blogspot.com/2005/03/myth-of-innocence.html

"Having largely abandoned the moral arguments against capital punishment, the modern abolition movement is now based on a trio of urban legends: (1) the death penalty is racist at its core; (2) those accused of capital murder get grossly inadequate representation; and (3) a remarkable number of people on death row are innocent."



7)  see section III. Death Of Truth: Sister Prejean's book "The Death Of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions":


"(Prejean's) book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations."


" . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims,  implies that the victim's husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man." 


" . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that 'the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.'  " "The same court also did "not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case."

But, "Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers."

"This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone's other than Williams'." 


from


"Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/05/04/sister-helen-prejean--the-death-penalty-a-critical-review.aspx


8) Exoneration Inflation


"Exoneration Inflation: Justice Scalia’s Concurrence in Kansas v. March", by Ward Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice, p 49, The Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice, Issue 2, Summer 2008

http://www.cjlf.org/files/CampbellExonerationInflation2008.pdf

"The more conservative approach of the court in Quinones I only recognized “actual innocence” in one‑half of one percent of the 7,084 death sentences imposed between 1973 and 2001."


"By deflating the DPIC List, Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion in Kansas v. Marsh contributes to an honest and realistic assessment of that actual risk."



 9
) "The Innocent and the Shammed"
by Joshua Marquis, Published in New York Times, 1/26/2006, http://coastda.blogspot.com/2006/01/innocent-and-shammed-nyt-oped.html

" . . .nothing is gained by deluding the public into believing that the police and prosecutors are trying to send innocent people to prison. Any experienced defense lawyer will concede that he would starve if he accepted only "innocent" clients. Americans should be far more worried about the wrongfully freed than the wrongfully convicted."



10) "Troy Davis & The Innocent Frauds of the anti death penalty lobby",

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2011/11/troy-davis-innocent-frauds-of-anti.html

"The Troy Davis campaign, like many before it, is a simple, blatant fraud, easily uncovered by the most basic of fact checking .

The case for Davis' guilt is overwhelming, just as were his due process protections, which may have surpassed that of all but a few death row inmates."



11) "Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles

http://homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Cameron%20Todd%20Willingham.aspx

The state of the forensics in the Cameron Todd Willingham case is this:


1) Of all of the forensics reports, that I have read, which find fault with the arson findings, none exclude arson. They conclude that the fire could be either arson or an accident.


2) Other reports continue to find for arson.


Other, non fire forensic, evidence against Todd Willingham not only continues to find for guilt but there is, now, more and stronger evidence against him.


Expert witnesses:


We have all seen where there are equally qualified experts in a trial that have opinions that are complete opposites. In some cases, there can be credible disagreement. In others, we respond with a deserved cynicism, 


With the Willingham fire, no credible person has denied that the fire could be arson. 


Dr. Hurst demurred. “I never had a case where I could exclude arson,” he said. “It’s not possible to do that.”(a)


Sadly, but in character (b), Barry Scheck and the Innocent Project have stated, flatly, that it wasn't arson and that Willingham was an innocent executed (c) All that Scheck and the IP are doing is injuring the credibility of forensic science. Evidently, for them, the find their agenda worth it. Former Texas Governor Mark White, now an anti death penalty activist, appears headed down this path, as well.


(a) "Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions", John Schwartz, New York Times,  October 14, 2010, 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/us/15execution.html?_r=1

(b)  The Innocence Project Invents False Confessions

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-innocence-project-invents-false.html

(c) New Report Shows that Cameron Todd Willingham, Executed in Texas in 2004, Was Innocent, NEWS RELEASE, Innocence Project, 8/31/09

http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/New_Report_Shows_that_Cameron_Todd_Willingham_Executed_in_Texas_in_2004_Was_Innocent.php


12) a) "Carlos DeLuna: Another False Innocence Claim?" Maybe? Probably?
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/05/carlos-deluna-another-false-innocence.html

"Paul Rivera, a Corpus Christi police investigator who transported DeLuna between city and county jails, said the study's researchers asked him years ago to reread the DeLuna case.


Rivera said he took his time combing through the investigation reports and transcripts. In the end, he drew the same conclusion."


"I know exactly what happened," he said. "DeLuna stabbed Wanda Lopez when she was on the phone and she was screaming for help."


"Rivera, who investigated more than 200 murders in Corpus Christi, said at least nine of those people were on death row and no one questioned his investigations or methods before DeLuna's case."


"The Columbia researchers are adamant about trying to abolish the death penalty, he said. "I don't know why these people are so vicious," he said."


b)  "Report questioning execution doesn't sway lawyers"  MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press, CNS NEWS, May 16, 2012 - 9:15 PM,http://cnsnews.com/news/article/report-questioning-execution-doesnt-sway-lawyers#sthash.Xqa96lzy.dpuf


"DeLuna claimed the killer was a man named Carlos Hernandez whom he'd met in the Nueces County jail. The county's former prosecutor who tried DeLuna, Steve Schiwetz, said records showed DeLuna had never been in the jail at the same time as a Carlos Hernandez. He also said investigators gave defense attorneys photos of every Carlos Hernandez who had been jailed in Nueces County and showed them to DeLuna, who refused to identify any of the photos as the killer."


 "It still bothers me to this day he wouldn't," (DeLuna's defense counsel) Lawrence said.


 "The conclusion I come to is he's making it up, giving a phony name, hence the phantom Carlos Hernandez," Schiwetz said. "What am I supposed to do?" Schiwetz . . . believes Hernandez either didn't exist or had no connection to the case. Nothing so far, he said, has "changed my mind as to who did it."

c)  Carlos DeLuna: "At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/01/30/fact-checking-is-very-welcome.aspx

Pickett:  (In 1989) "I was  so 100% certain that he couldn't have committed this crime. (Carlos) was a super person to minister to.  I knew Carlos was not guilty. " "I knew (executed inmate) Carlos (De Luna) didn't do it."

REPLY:  There is this major problem. It appears that Rev. Pickett is, now, either lying about his own 1989 opinions or he is very confused.


In 1999, 4 years after Rev. Pickett had left his death row ministry, and he had become an anti death penalty activist, and 10 years after De Luna's execution, the reverend was asked, in a PBS Frontline interview,


"Do you think there have been some you have watched die who were strictly innocent?"


Pickett's  reply: "I never felt that."



13) Gary Graham: Hollywood, Murder and Texas

A CASE STUDY OF LIES, HALF-TRUTHS AND  INTIMIDATION 
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/graham.htm

"C. (1) Gary Graham's defense claims have been reviewed and rejected 9 times by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest criminal court in Texas), 2 times by the Texas Supreme Court, 4 times by the U.S. Supreme Court and in a total of thirty-three (33) judicial or executive proceedings. (Houston Post, July 29, 1993 and subsequent events, as of 9/8/96.)


(2) a. Federal District Court Judge David Hittner ruled that all of Graham's new evidence is not sufficient to entitle him to a federal hearing and refused Graham a hearing or a stay of execution. He also stated that several of Graham's new witnesses were not credible. (Houston Post, August 16, 1993 and Houston Chronicle, August 14, 1993.)

b. After a thorough review of all the "new evidence", by himself and his staff, Texas Attorney General Dan Morales stated, "...that none of that new information is credible. There is no new evidence. Graham is stalling for time." The "new evidence" and "revised" witness statements are ""stoned-cold manufactured evidence." (Houston Chronicle, August 15, 1993, Houston Sun August 16, 1993 and The Texas Observer, August 20, 1993.)


14) Julius and Ethel Rosenberg 

For decades and internationally, one of the biggest "innocent" executed cases.


The Venona Intercepts, 1995


The US Government has direct evidence of Julius Rosenberg, and others', involvement with the Soviet's, as spies for atomic secrets, with intercepted communications between the Soviet's and some of their US spies, from 1944. These Venona  intercepts were released in 1995.  There was more than enough evidence that Ethel, at least, knew of his spying and chose not to report it, enough for a conspiracy, which was the charge and why they were executed.


Folks look past the obvious.


They both had ample time to come forward and proclaim Ethel innocence and, to, at least, save one parent for their children. They chose not to, instead, they both chose that Ethel should die, leaving their children to be orphaned, a decisive indicator of  guilt for them both and as well as their devotion to the cause.

Direct evidence of Ethel's guilt came later, as did more evidence of the damage that the Rosenberg spy ring caused.

Rosenbergs Redux, BY RONALD RADOSH AND STEVEN USDIN, DECEMBER 6, 2010 
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/79648/rosenbergs-redux-julius-ethel-communist-spies

From which:

"As for Ethel Rosenberg’s role, the evidence is unequivocal. She recruited her brother as an atomic spy and provided logistical support to Julius's espionage activities. She knew at least two Soviet intelligence officers, and they considered her a loyal and trustworthy compatriot."

NOTE: This, below,  is a "rebuttal" to Radosh and Usdin's article above, by Michael Meeropol, one of the Rosenberg's sons. The rebuttal is so weak, that it should be viewed as a complete concession, with the exception of the date Julius became a spy.


In Response to Ronald Radosh and Steven Usdin, Michael Meeropol, Letter to New Republic, published 2/1/2001
http://ncrrc.org/in-response-to-ronald-radosh-and-steven-usdin/ 


15)   The Innocence Project Invents False Confessions

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-innocence-project-invents-false.html 

"Dr. Welner demonstrated how poor scientific methodology and an anti-police agenda among declared scholars in this novel area of scientific interest result in inflated perceptions of the prevalence of false confessions. 


These include false representations by The Innocence Project that the proportion of false confessions in wrongful conviction cases is 25 percent when that percentage is in actuality close to 10 percent."



16)  The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html

"Well known anti death penalty scholars "(Charles) Black and (Hugo Adam ) Bedau said they would favor abolishing the death penalty even if they knew that doing so would increase the homicide rate by 1,000 percent." 

They would chose sparing the lives of 1300 guilty murderers (executed from 1973-2013) over saving an additional 6.3 million innocent lives, taken by murder.

Anti death penalty. academic leaders make that argument.  Astounding. "
======

Related Topic      No Death Penalty = More Innocent Deaths


 New death penalty statutes were enacted in 1973, after Furman v Georgia (1972) overturned all death statutes. The US Supreme Court approved some new statutes in 1976 within Gregg v Georgia.

Since 1973:

1) no credible claim of an innocent executed in the modern era, post 1972 ("The Innocents Fraud", above);

2) the death penalty protects innocents, in three ways, better than does life without parole (LWOP): enhanced due process, enhanced incapacitation and enhanced deterrence ("The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents", below);

3) 5000 die/yr in US criminal custody.  33/yr, on average, are executed. (Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty, below ); 

4) from 14,000 - 28,000 additional innocents were murdered by those murderers that we allowed to murder, again, since 1973 (Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty, below ); and


5) from 40,000 - 200,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have released on parole and probation, while under government supervision, and/or, were otherwise released or were criminals never incarcerated, since 1973 (Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty, below).

A true concern for innocents would result in many more death sentences and many fewer criminals released.

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

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Justice Thomas' Remarkable Flirtation with Multiculturalism

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Guilty: Sacco and Vanzetti

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The Sleazy Semantics of Death Penalty Opponents

Amercian Thinker
http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/07/the_sleazy_semantics_of_death_penalty_opponents.html

July 21, 2013

The Sleazy Semantics of Death Penalty Opponents


By Lester Jackson, Ph.D.

Stunning ignorance from those who would exalt murderers and dehumanize victims.
 

"Humanize" the Inhumane!          

Anyone familiar with television crime dramas is aware that "humanizing" the inhumane long has been a tactic of fanatics seeking to keep alive murderers convicted of the worst depravity -- while simultaneously sacrificing, with little concern, the lives of decent, innocent law-abiding individuals sure to be slaughtered by some of those given a "second chance."

 

By contrast, other than many prosecutors and those who have lost loved ones, few realize that "humanizing" the depraved involves dehumanizing victims.  At a minimum, it would certainly be understandable if "compassion" zealots prefer not to think about victims, lest they experience pangs of conscience about the past barbarities they rationalize and the future barbarities they guarantee.

 

More importantly for these advocates, the objective is to minimize juror consideration of victim agony, while focusing on every possible concocted "mitigating" excuse for savagery.  Thus, it long has been a goal of murderer advocates to throw victims out of court.  Reversed after four years, that was once an actual fiat of the U.S. Supreme Court.  For nearly two decades, Justice Stevens fervently longed to restore that fiat on behalf of convicted murderers.  Described by one legal blogger as "a thoroughly execrable Justice" and "a thoroughly execrable human being," he complained (7) that introducing evidence of victim suffering would cause juror sympathy for victims and antipathy for convicted murderers.  And he called (1) it a "misnomer" to include among victims the families and friends of anyone murdered.  Instead, he disparaged them as mere "third parties."

 

To make it easier to fight for murderers' lives, it helps many fanatics to motivate themselves not just with unconcern about victims, but with ginned up hostility toward them.  They have repeatedly engaged in vile vilification of victims, calling them "uncivilized," "pathological," "bloodthirsty," and even "barbaric" for seeking just punishment of actual convicted barbarians.

 

Now they not only deny that families and friends are also victims, but also dispute that the latter are even homicide survivors.  For example, in responding to a plea at the website "Homicide Survivors" that the media refrain from equating murder and execution, a commentator named Caroline De Biase recently provided what should be considered a parody of the pro-murderer mentality.  Accusing capital punishment supporters of "sloppy thinking," this murderer groupie declares it "not accurate" to refer to the "families and friends of a murder victim" as "homicide survivors."  Not content to let her assertion stand on its dubious merit, De Biase doubled down, accusing these victims of deliberately twisting the definition of "survivor" for their own ends.

 

"But perhaps that is your intention," she writes, exclaiming in triumph with heartless insensitivity, as though scoring a point in a game.  "If it is, then excuse me for saying, 'Gotcha!'"


A Brief Primer on Language for the Benefit of "Abolitionists"

 

Ms. De Biase herself is not just "inaccurate"; she is flat-out wrong.  Her fundamental flaw is based on ignorance of elementary language.  She seems utterly unaware that words frequently have more than one meaning.

 

For example, as a noun, "cardinal" refers to a bird, a Major League baseball player, a National Football League player, college and high school players on multiple teams, a cape, and a high official of the Roman Catholic Church; as an adjective, "cardinal" describes a number, a color, and a person, rule or principle of prime importance.

 

As Alice told Humpty Dumpty: "That's a great deal to make one word mean." Nevertheless, long before Humpty Dumpty became the harsh but generous taskmaster who paid extra to the words he overworked, words were often employed for multiple diverse tasks.  There is even a category, autoantonyms, which have contradictory and outright opposite meanings.  For example, "sanction" refers to both official endorsement and punishment.

 

The Multiple Commonly Used Meanings of "Survivor"

 

If their devotion to the cause of rapists and murderers did not drive abolitionists to contempt and even outright hostility toward victims, De Biase and Emmett Rensin, another commentator at "Homicide Survivors" with a similar mindset, might have done their homework.  If they had, they would quickly have discovered more than one commonly used meaning for "survivor."

 

Their own "sloppy thinking" is rooted in the mistaken assumption that every word must have but one meaning -- and therefore "survivor" has only one meaning.  It is absolutely true that, in common usage, someone who lives through a life-threatening illness or injury is said to have "survived" and is thus a "survivor."  And one who dies has not "survived."  Clearly, "homicide survivor" does not oxymoronically refer to the ludicrous caricature of a dead "survivor."  Of course, those murdered are not "survivors."  But that does not end the matter.

 

Webster's Third New International Dictionary contains the following additional definitions for "survivor":

a) one that outlives another: one remaining alive after another's death; b) one of two or more legally designated persons...who outlives one or more of the others ... c) one living through a time, event or development marked by the death of others.

 

But it is not necessary to seek a large printed dictionary.  By consulting any internet dictionary (e.g., here or here), anyone acting in good faith would instantly discover that "survivor" is very commonly used to describe those who outlive others, including parents, siblings, children, and spouses.  Also, the word should be familiar to anyone who has a will leaving bequests to heirs.

 

Have Rensin and De Biase never met or heard of "surviving heirs" and "surviving spouses"?  Millions of widows and widowers have signed tax returns as "surviving spouses," and the IRS provides explicit instructions for them.  Indeed, IRS Form 706 and its instructions repeatedly mention "surviving" spouses, co-tenants, joint tenants, and nonfamily members.  The federal government also provides life insurance for the parents, widows, and widowers who are "survivors" of federal employees.  Finally, one would have to live in total isolation to avoid knowing any of the millions upon millions receiving Social Security "survivors' benefits."  Moreover, the federal government devotes  many publications to the subject.

In sum, no murder victim is a survivor; but based on all these examples of common usage, only the disingenuous, the willfully obtuse, or the malicious would refuse to acknowledge that a homicide survivor is someone who has outlived and been left behind by one or more beloved homicide victims.

 

A Critical Distinction

 

Use of the term "homicide survivors" has been defended on the ground that a murder victim's loved ones are also victims.  This mixes up two very distinct points.

 

First, the loved ones of murder victims are "survivors" because they outlived the victims, period.

 

Second, the loved ones left behind by murder are described as survivors not because they are victims; they are victims because they are homicide survivors.  Families and friends of murdered individuals are not only "survivors" of victims; they are victims in their own right -- a fact disputed, as noted, by Justice Stevens, who denied that survivors are victims at all.  In reality, they are victims two times over: a) they suffer the trauma of losing someone dear and a vital part of their own lives, and b) they are unnecessarily (and therefore unjustifiably) tormented by the De Biases of the world by being forced to endure decades of torture by supercilious self-styled "compassionate" judges.

 

The Lesson for Homicide Survivors 

 

There is a tendency, especially among decent people, to avoid questioning motives. They believe -- or desperately want to believe -- that persons of good will can strongly yet respectfully and civilly disagree.

 

Well, the problem for homicide survivors is that they are not dealing with people of good faith and good will.  Without realizing it, most death penalty supporters are in a struggle between those called by Reinhold Niehbuhr The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.  As explained elsewhere, an "unbridgeable values chasm" exists between homicide survivors and their tormenters. 

 

So this is not a matter of respectful disagreement between like-minded people who adhere to the same values but differ on how to further them.  This is a bitter conflict between people with diametrically opposed values -- and morality.  Homicide survivors, who are also victims, confront ruthless, cruel, dishonest people who have a cavalier disregard, if not outright contempt, for victim suffering.  

 

At the end of the day, if defenders of barbarity such as Rensin and De Biase demonstrate anything beyond their own bile, it is that victims are confronted by enemies -- sometimes mortal enemies.  Every new barbarity (including additional murders) committed by a spared murderer demonstrates beyond a scintilla of doubt that abolitionists are the mortal enemies of the decent law-abiding.

 

Acknowledging this horrifying reality is an absolutely necessary first step if tortured surviving victims are ever to be accorded respect, decency, and justice.

____________________________

The original is slightly modified here.

Lester Jackson, Ph.D., a former college political science teacher, views mainstream media suppression of the truth as essential to harmful judicial activism. His recent articles are collected here.

Getting it Wrong about "Getting it Right"

Repeatedly in writing, Thomas and Scalia have questioned the integrity of their colleagues; and accused them of arrogance, lawlessness, license, illegitimate abuse of power, basing decisions on no more than their own personal values, contempt for the Constitution, sowing confusion rather than providing clarity, hypocritically pretending to defend the weak against the powerful while actually favoring the powerful at the expense of the weak, protecting “inconsequential” expression while disdaining the “heart” of the first amendment (the right to criticize officeholders), poisonous and pernicious racism and sexism, belief in black inferiority, placing at risk the lives of good innocent people in order to save the lives of the most vicious and depraved, placing the welfare of terrorists above the lives of soldiers combatting them, mandating “infanticide” (the barbaric killing of “human children”), and numerous other sins. << MORE >>