Monday, July 10, 2006


A Monday Treat from Hector Black

Hector Black is a wonderful farmer from Cookeville who, in 2000, experienced one of the worst events that I can imagine; Hector's daughter was murdered. This morning, in my email box, was a letter to the editor written by Hector. The words of people like Hector, who step away from vengeance, even when they have the most cause to want it, continue to inspire me. Hector's letter is below:

Thoughts on the Death Penalty July 9, 2006 5AM

It seems to me the DP is an act of revenge. A life for a life. I know that when our daughter was murdered, I wanted the man who did it to hurt the way I was hurting. I wanted him to suffer like our daughter did. I wanted to get even. Seems to be a natural impulse. But is there any way of getting even? I mean really even. How can anyone make up for the brutal death of your loved one? Isn’t bringing the loved one back is the only way to really get even - to get back to where you were before the horror? My wife and I came to realize that killing the man who killed our daughter would not honor her in any way. Doesn’t the death penalty just add one more death, one more group of relatives and friends hurting. Does the world need more pain? Seems to me there is more than enough to go around.

When I think about the death penalty I realize that it penalizes the poor. When did you last read about a rich person being executed? It’s certainly not that rich people don’t kill. They can hire the top lawyers (shoot, they can hire killers). They find a way through. Just the power of having a lot of money seems to affect the way we think about them. Guy off the streets? A nobody. But a Rockefeller….Money even changes the balance in the delivery of justice. Not one of the 102 people on death row in Tennessee could afford a lawyer.

The proportion of people or color executed for murder is way higher than of white people. Think that’s because they kill more often? Think again.

Does the DP slow the murder rate? Nope, just check out no death penalty Europe’s murder rate and ours. Unless you think Europeans are just less likely to kill. Or take Texas - one of the highest murder rates in the nation in the state the executes more people than any other.

Well, is it Christian? To that, I would ask if you can picture Jesus pulling the switch on an electric chair, or injecting poison into the person strapped to a gurney.

Is it justice, equal justice? Over a hundred people have been released from death row because DNA evidence proved their innocence. Makes one wonder how many innocents have been executed. The death penalty is not applied evenly throughout the US. A person is killed in Texas who would instead be sent to jail in Vermont. How fair is that?

And do you really enjoy the United States being in the company of Saudi Arabia, China, Iran? We are the only western democracy that still executes people. Ugh! Saudi Arabia! They behead people there don’t they? All that blood. We don’t want to think about it. We want our death to be bloodless. Murders are usually bloody. Maybe we would get better “closure” if we saw the murderer’s blood. Herod’s wife got even by having John the Baptist’s head served her on a platter. Pure hatred. Isn’t the death penalty also an act of hatred leaving the murderer with no possibility for remorse, for redemption?

Oh, and for you conservatives out there, life in prison is less expensive than execution. Check it out.

So, if it’s administered unfairly, if it’s unchristian, if it’s an act of revenge and doesn’t deter murder, and it’s more expensive, why in Sam Hill do we continue to use it?
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