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On the Execution of Timothy McVeigh

David Sweet, Santa Cruz Sentinel (5/16/01)

Today's editorial clamors for the execution of convicted terrorist and mass murderer Timothy McVeigh. Here are some reasons for viewing the proposed state-sponsored ritual of human sacrifice as a miscarriage of justice that should be opposed by citizens of this country:

  1. Put to death, McVeigh will remain in some Americans' memories as a martyr alongside the victims of the Waco massacre he sought to commemorate with his crime;

  2. Imprisoned for life without possibility of parole, he would be a constant reminder encouraging the discussion of issues raised for us as a people by his crime.

  3. As the most shockingly sociopathic personality of our times, he should be studied closely in the interest of national security, for lessons about how better to socialize alienated young men.

  4. Most Americans profess to follow Jesus of Nazareth, a practitioner of love towards despised persons who was himself the victim of a state-sponsored ritual of human sacrifice.

  5. As is argued eloquently by Bud Welch, the founder of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation who lost his daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing, no benefit to McVeigh's victims or their families will accrue from killing him.

  6. Timothy McVeigh, like any other grievous sinner, is capable of self-rehabilitation. We who failed in rearing him, then found him a threat to society and quite appropriately denied him his freedom, in fact owe him that opportunity. There but for the grace of God go we.

  7. Killing is wrong. Revenge killing is base. Both are beneath the dignity of a humane and democratic polity, and send the wrong message to a public already obsessed with killing.


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