Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Death Sentence

On the news today I saw that Major Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death. One of the guys in the bay mentioned it outloud this morning. He had just read it off his Iphone. I commented, "May God have mercy on his soul."

Another guy said, "Nah. I don't really care."

"I do," responded.

The implication was this guy is a traitor and a murderer of fellow soldiers. He doesn't deserve mercy, so why pray for it?

Well, of course, he doesn't deserve mercy. If he did, he wouldn't need it. The perequisite for needing mercy is that you do not deserve it! That is pretty much the definition of mercy.

But more troubling than that very universal human misunderstanding was the tone that accompanied it. It felt like the soldier was saying that this was a crime that should not be forgiven. He is a traitor. He killed our fellow soldiers. It almost sounded as if that was worse than the killing itself.

Why should we consider treachery a worse crime than murder? On the one hand, it makes the murder impersonal. He wasn't gunning for those particular people, he was striking at a symbol of the country he hated. But honestly, why does that matter? What does it matter why he killed them? Is hating America worthy of the death penalty? Or is it the murder?

Does it ever reeally matter? When someone kills people because they are Christians, or because they are homosexuals, or because they are prostitutes, or because they are black or because they are Muslim, or because they happened to be there, what does that matter? Is murder less murder if you do not particularly hate the group of people that the victim belongs to?

And why should murdering soldiers be worse than killing anyone else? Ostensibly, soldiers signed up willingly, knowing that there was a risk of impersonal death at the hands of someone who hated them simply because they wear an American flag. It is the attitude of flagrant nationalism, the hatred for anyone who hates America that troubles me. The kind of emotion that vents upon unknown, uncounted people in The Middle East, that insists we should turn the whole place into a parking lot for what they have done to our soldiers.

Let them hate America all they want. We must do what is required to protect ourselves, but why should we sink to their level and hate in return? Frankly, nationalism frightens me more than terrorism.

I do not think Maj. Hasan should receive the death penalty. He should be kept in prison and given
every opportunity to repent and make amends. Not because he deserves it, but because I want to see him in Heaven. It is as simple as that.


  1. Yes, we do truly need to pray for the man's salvation, a very, very good point. I also pray for our servicemen and women's souls as well, that there would be true revival in our country's ranks.

    God be with you Ryan. : )

  2. I know this is a late comment, but thank you for your post Ryan! I once had a conversation with someone who said that they knew that certain people would end up in hell, and I commented that we never really know because they are still able to repent at the last moment and God is merciful. So, even with the death penalty (which I am sorry that they are using, I am happy that they do not have that in Canada), there is still a chance that he will repent... thanks be to God! Thank you for your witness! Also, your point about nationalism being more frightening than terrorism is one that needs to be pondered, especially in Canada and the USA... many wars have come from misplaced nationalism (eg. WWII). There is much to think about, thank goodness God is in charge.

    God bless,

  3. Replies
    1. I am not against the death penalty. My position is pretty much basic Catholic doctrine, that the Death Penalty is a legitimate option if it is necessary to protect society from further attack by a predator. John Paul II famously said that there was no reason in modern society that killing the criminal would be the only way of protecting society, given high tech prisons which are capable of keeping someone locked up for life. On the other hand our society and justice system is such that criminals often go free simply because we lacked the will to keep them behind bars.

      My basic point with this is that, while I have no problem killing people if that is needed to protect the innocent, I do have a problem with killing people in order to punish them. Punishment is quite simply not my job.