From Works and Days – The Demons of the Modern Rampage Killer:
If the suspect is charged and found guilty, I have zero confidence that he will be hanged. I have a great deal of confidence that over the next five years, his awful presence will pop up on a news broadcast. We can execute bin Laden and high-five it; we can incinerate over 2,000 suspected terrorists by video-controlled Predators, and have the president brag about it in warning away suitors from his daughters at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner— but we cannot do the same for someone who was tried, convicted, and sentenced for horrifically destroying people.
We the sophisticated with university degrees are supposed to know better: that hanging such a nightmarish criminal when convicted is both barbaric on our part and offers no statistical evidence that it will deter future such killers.
Perhaps. But society needs to be affirmed with a certainty that it has the clear sense of evil and good to try, convict, and punish the killer. Hanging Saddam or Eichmann, for all the controversies over their trials, at least offered some finality: they were evil and now are no more—and now we don’t worry whether Saddam was unloved, or the circumstances of Eichmann’s childhood.
In other words, I don’t care a whit whether the Aurora killer was a loner. I don’t care if he was unhappy or if he was on medication. Millions share such pathologies without killing a mouse. I don’t even know whether giving him swift justice will deter the next mass shooter. Yes, give the suspect expert legal counsel; call in all the psychiatrists imaginable; sequester the jury; ensure the judge is a pillar of jurisprudence; but if he is found guilty, I would prefer the gallows and quickly so, to remind us that we live in a civilization that prefers to remember the victims and to remember nothing at all of their killer.
Can I get an “AMEN!”?