Sunday, December 30, 2007

LETTERS: How can "the miasma of brutality" cure violence?

From Tom

I’m sorry to hear that you were victimized by violence. I would never criticize an individual for supporting the DP who had experienced violence firsthand. Anyone who has suffered that kind of grievous assault/loss is certainly entitled to their feelings whatever they might be. I happen to be privileged to know several extraordinary individuals who have experinced the loss of a loved one to murder, and yet are opposed to the DP. They have come to believe that our system of “justice” actually contributes to the violence in our midst.

By replicating the violence we supposedly abhor, we legitimize it and further imbue society with the miasma of brutality.

These survivors of violence have come to embrace a restoritive brand of justice, rather than a retributive form--a brand of justice that protects society by other than violent means, that nurtures the survivors and, ideally, would strive to rehabilitate and give some meaning to the rest of the murderer’s life (for instance, involve him/her in meaningful work, the proceeds from which could be used to help the survivors of violence).

In any case, from my viewpoint the state’s mirroring the murderer’s act of brutality with another act of brutality is not healing--for society or the individuals involved.

As Marietta Jaeger-Lane (who lost her 7 year-old daughter to murder) has said: “Loved ones, wrenched from our lives by violent crime, deserve more beautiful, noble and honorable memorials than pre-meditated, state-sanctioned killings. The death penalty only creates more victims and more grieving families. By becoming that which we deplore -- people who kill people -- we insult the sacred memory of all our precious victims.

'Concerning the claim of justice for the victim's family, I say there is no amount of retaliatory deaths that would compensate to me the inestimable value of my daughter's life, nor would they restore her to my arms. To say that the death of any other person would be just retribution is to insult the immeasurable worth of our loved ones who are victims. We cannot put a price on their lives. That kind of 'justice' would only dehumanize and degrade us because it legitimates an animal instinct for gut-level bloodthirsty revenge.”

I also have had the privilege to have met several of the 125 individuals who have been exonerated and freed from death row, as well as some of the mothers who have had sons there. No one wants to look at it, but the DP cures no ones pain--it only increases the pain of other families on the other side of the DP. As long as society continues to rely on the tool(s) of violence to solve its problems, violence will remain--a symptom of society’s ills.

(Incidentally, as far as having “to pay to feed, clothe, house, and provide medical care” for murderers, it should be noted that the whole DP process costs much more than the whole “life-in-prison” process--one of the many reasons New Jersey abolished the DP.)


Fighting for Truth, Justice, and making it the American way!


Rachel said...


Rachel said...

This below from Tom today, I assume, was in response to the DP comments at aol (well over 3000 of them!) by someone who said she had experienced violence in her life--

These many comments have continued to come into aol and NYTimes -- one dynamic indicating the national debate is still very much alive. These comments are coming--all in response to a startling FRONT PAGE article (lower half) on the NYTimes Dec 26th 2007-- followed by an prominent Editorial at the NYTimes (see -State Without Pity- )on Dec 27 2007 re. Texas & the Death Penalty. R. Deiter and Death Pen info center are quoted with important stats. Highlighted is the fact Texas is out of step with many other states -- if not the rest of the country. To find, scroll down here on JOH blog or go to our JOH blog archives for both the article and the editorial along with the urls for both and for comments. We plan to continue adding more comments here from our blog readers as well as any important comments you discover on aol or at NYTimes or elsewhere. You may also find more by going to comments at bottom right for related blogs.

Please send your own discovers and/or comments to Connie st

This comment here to which Tom responds, I understand was/is at aol? Maybe Tom would send the original comment to which he is responding here with it's url? Tom, did you send this into aol? If so & it's printed there, please send that url also, would you?
If aol doesn't accept, why not try The NYtimes comments for -State Without Pity- ?

By the way, I noticed and particularly appreciate the effective phrase you use:
"the miasma of brutality" which I've never before heard. Bravo and THANKS! Connie

Thomas W. Muther, Jr. said...

Yes, my comments above were in response to a post on aol from a woman who supported the DP and had experienced violence (unspecified) in her own life.

Her comments:

[majo6996 02:13:39 AM Dec 30 2007]
Has anyone seen a blog on ANY story lately that has not basicly been Bush-bashing? They would be more interesting to read if they dealt with the subject of the story they related to.

As for the death penalty, few of the bloggers seem to have any idea what it is like to be victimized by a violent criminal. Certainly, the case should be proven, but beyond that, I fail to see why I should have to pay to feed, clothe, house, and provide medical care for the very person (and others like him) who irrevocably changed my life forever. After being victimized, I studied violent criminal behavior and the things that cause people to turn out like that are heartbreaking but that still cannot excuse their behavior. I strongly support the death penalty, yet I still pray every day for the man who victimized my family.

All I can say is... I'M PROUD TO BE A TEXAN !!!

Me, I'm "proud" to believe in HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY!!!

Thomas W. Muther, Jr.

Fighting for Truth, Justice, and making it the American way!