Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Divinipotent About Vengeance

"To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice."
~ Desmond Tutu

John Allen Muhammad was the sniper who paralyzed the entire Washington, D.C., area for three terrible weeks in 2002, killing ten people there and perhaps another ten in other incidents. Last night Muhammad himself was killed by lethal injection in the death chamber at Virginia's Greensville Correctional Center. By all accounts, he was a vicious, bitter man with an enormously inflated opinion of himself. He is unlikely to be missed by many, and least of all by Lee Boyd Malvo, the young man Muhammad drew into his scheme in early adolescence and made his accomplice in murder when he was just 17. (Malvo, who escaped death primarily because of his youth, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.)

"Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out."
~ Francis Bacon

The D.C. murders started with revenge — the killing spree is thought to have been an act of rage directed at Muhammad's ex-wife. The abhorrent saga ended with officially sanctioned revenge witnessed by 20 relatives of Muhammad's victims.

"What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!"
~ Victor Hugo

Divinipotent Daily opposes the death penalty for many reasons. Most obviously, death sentences almost exclusively target the poor and almost never those who can afford good lawyers. But on a more fundamental level, the death sentence appeals to the darkest parts of human nature; it distorts grief and twists it into bloodlust. Research into the psychology of revenge will be Divinipotent Daily's topic for tomorrow.

“An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

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