Monday, March 5, 2018

Dylann Roof and the Death Sentence

Buried beneath all the other breathless headlines, I just now read that "Dylann Roof has been sentenced to death for the June 2015 Charleston church slayings."

Stories like this actually remind me why I oppose capital punishment.

Roof was clearly lost and fell into all the wrong influences as an impressionable, isolated person. He deserves life imprisonment without parole to reflect on his choices and the opportunity to reconcile with his own moral failures.

Unfortunately, the government-sanctioned execution of Roof will stoke the flames of martyrdom in future angry young men just like him.  In their racist ideology, it will only validate their persecution complex.  Notoriety in death is often the outcome that rampage shooters desire.  In our pursuit of justice, we should not be so unwitting as to play into white power delusions about their imagined persecution.

By sentencing Dylann Roof to death, the US government will affirm that our response to killing people is... killing people. We should not want for further blood on our hands after the tragic shooting in Charleston. This is not what those slain church-goers who follow Christ would want nor what we as a society should accept as our moral standard.

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