Archive | September 9, 2011

De Spectaculis

I laughed when Nero’s minions sent
fire-tortured souls to the sky.
Without the walls of Pilate’s halls,
I shouted “Crucify!”

I roared my glee to the sullen sea
where Abel’s blood was shed.
My jeer was loud in the gory crowd
that stoned St. Stephen dead.

— Robert E. Howard

Even if the death penalty were morally legitimate (and I think it isn’t), and even if we could be justifiably confident that every one of those 234 executed prisoners was actually guilty of the crimes for which they were sentenced (and I think we can’t), it would still be grotesque to react to those executions with cheers and applause, as the audience did at this week’s Republican debate. Surely a mood of solemnity and regret would be more appropriate. These Republicans howling and hooting over executions are the kind who formerly reveled in seeing Christians thrown to the lions. The fact that they now have the effrontery to call themselves Christians only adds insult to injury (literally).

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