Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami wrote (Sept. 23) of horrible crimes, the law, the death penalty, and his political opponent, District Attorney George Gascón. The column got my immediate attention because I have strong feelings regarding the death penalty. Some call it capital punishment, but I don’t see it as a form of punishment as the person who is “punished” by the process is no longer alive. The only effect of the “punishment” is the person’s elimination from life on Earth. If I wanted to really punish someone it would fall in the category of “cruel and unusual” and it would last a very … long … time. I have no qualms with torture. It can have a cathartic effect, like venting high-pressure steam. Anyway …
I believe there are people who should be eliminated for the horrible, and permanent, harm they have done to others, but I have a real problem with being the one doing the eliminating. Quite a pickle, isn’t it? I think the ancient Hebrew God knew this when he said: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” (Deuteronomy 32:35.) Sounds a lot like Karma.
Some time later, one Paul of Tarsus had the same feelings, but he seems to have twisted the notion in a completely different direction: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:19-20.)
Sounds a lot like George Gascón is a devout Christian.
Although Mr. Hatami used this entire scenario as the basis for a political pitch, I do think it’s important for all of us to ask ourselves what actually is accomplished by putting someone to death.
Yes, what is accomplished?