Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Punishment for heinous acts

Anger at a child killer

Lila at Total Survivalist Libertarian Bitch Fest wrote about her anger at a Florida man, Richard Anthony McTear Jr., 21, charged with murder for snatching her 18 year old girlfriend's 3 month baby, and throwing the infant from the car on a Tampa interstate highway.
A swift execution would be too good for this man. I say burning at the stake!!!!!


My father was a man of few angers. I think I learned from him that tragedies and wrongs must be met with resolve and dispassion. The first two dogs I recall growing up with were put down - shot - because the first got into the livestock and injured calves, the second attacked my cousin when she arrived late one night. In each case, the dog was treated humanely until the time came. No question was asked, the understanding that once a dog tastes fresh blood, it will attack again, was borne out through experience. The dog wasn't held to be at fault, precisely, but the penalty was still applied.

Capital punishment

In high school one year our National debate topic was about capital punishment. One very interesting argument came from Great Britain's experience. When Great Britain stopped making executions public - they saw a decline in murders and capital crimes.

Responsibility, not passion.

My own feeling about McTear, the child killer, is that his trial should be circumspect, fair, and restricted to the facts of the case. Any punishment must be applied, but should be kept to local coverage only. If sentenced to death, the penalty should be quickly and quietly applied. This is not about punishment, he will learn nothing from any sentence likely, and only the judge in the case has any position of authority to impose legal consequences for this illegal act.

Child killing.

I am appalled at the crime, and see it as a heinous act of disrespect to the mother, her family, the community, and the nation.

Deterrence - making examples of people - doesn't work with people you don't respect, and that don't respect you. Yelling "Be quiet!" at a child throwing a tantrum, it raises the energy level, the passion, and excites the tantrum to fresh and louder levels. Getting extravagant, exacting "appropriate" sentences against criminals, makes the process livid, it focuses attention on the gruesome details, not the tragedy of a life unavailable to build the community.

When we express anger at heinous acts, we surrender control to those looking for attention, for recognition. Because being ignored is such a deeply personal evil, there are many people that could become perpetrators. We need to avoid copycat murders and copycat assaults and we have to stop making showcases of gruesome crimes. We are inciting criminals, not "enlightening" the nation. When news teams compete to have the freshest, the clearest, the most factual coverage of crimes - we make that national showcase a goal, a reason for a certain type of person to strive for a place in the nation's attention.

News coverage, if meant to enable the nation to better itself, might use a test. Will a story enable voters - citizens - to make a better choice at the ballot box? Will this story cause citizens to invoke their right to communicate their fears, hopes, and needs to representatives, their Senators, their community and state leaders? Is this story about civics, about the nation, or is this just a lurid local story that will sell soap? Will this story inspire action to correct a wrong or support a good work?

So, if McTear should receive a death sentence, I pray for myself, for the nation, and for the spirit of his victim, that his death occur in the dead of night with the minimum witnesses in a forgotten location, and go unreported. He has earned nothing more.

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