Actually, I didn’t do much this Saturday night. No, it’s not because I don’t have any social life (I may not have one, but that is not the reason that I stayed in on this particular Saturday night). No, it was because I knew that at 7:00 AM, my phone was going to ring, and it wasn’t just going to be my mother. It was going to be a live feed to Christian Dissent radio (By the time this is posted, they will hopefully have our interview linked).
Yes that’s right, apparently someone is listening to the radio from 6:00 to 8:00 on Sunday mornings. But the show is actually a good one, so next time you’re up, you should tune it in, or at least go listen to the segments that they have linked on their website.
We ended up having a really great conversation for over half an hour. We talked a lot about biblical and theological responses to capital punishment, and ways that we can have conversations with conservative Christians about capital punishment. One of the most interesting, or at least unusual, questions that I was asked was that with capital punishment, even having surpassed the 1,000 execution mark, we’re talking about a tiny number of people in comparison to issues of poverty, war, racism, and other forms of violence. Are we making too big a deal about capital punishment really?
I hadn’t really heard the sentiment put quite that way before. The first thing that I mentioned was that this demonstrates again the arbitrariness of the death penalty, which is applied in under 2% of possible cases. America could never support the number of executions necessary if we applied the death penalty in all possible cases.
But I think the question does run deeper: why are we so concerned about this tiny number of people? For many of us, much like the proponents of capital punishment, the death penalty is a symbol. But in this case, it is a symbol of our respect for human life and human dignity. If our society can so degrade a human being as to kill them, what does that say about us? Or maybe we know that for the state to kill one person is too many. But I’d be interested to know why other people working for abolition are doing it.
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