A LONE DEATH
By Marci Alborghetti
I don't think David Letterman has done this
one. Following are the Top Ten
Reasons Catholics Should Have Spoken Out, As a People, Against the
Execution of Timothy McVeigh:
Number Ten: "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord." Simply put, it's not up
to us to decide who should die for their sins, no matter how horrific those
sins. It's up to God. Certainly, as a society, we must keep murderers
from killing again. But not by killing them. Hard as it seems to be for
some of us to believe, we're not God.
Number Nine: The Media. If McVeigh was simply spending the rest of his
miserable, pathetic life in a teeny-tiny room, no one would know about his
ranting manias. No one would know because the media would not have
covered, en masse, the shriekings of this twisted man about to meet his
death. His execution made him news, and the news media made him famous,
which is precisely what he wanted. Had he been forced to live out his
years in a cell, we would not be seeing the myriad articles, interviews and
books that now pollute the media and literary landscape. Anybody heard
much about the Unabomber lately?
Number Eight: Anniversaries. It's bad enough for the families - and our
nation - stunned and victimized by the Oklahoma bombing, to know that every
year there will be articles and events to mark the horror. Whether they
want to relive it or not. Now, they - and we - will have to suffer through
the torture of marking McVeigh's execution. Can't you just hear Ted Koppel
now? "And tonight on Nightline, one year after the state-sponsored
execution of convicted terrorist, Tim McVeigh, we examine . . . " whatever
vapid horror is chosen to fall under the light on that particular year.
This will be repeated over and over again in various venues every mid-May.
Should McVeigh really be accorded the same status as the tragedy he caused?
Should any of us, much less his victims, have to mark his death perforce?
Number Seven: The New Testament. We seem to have an interesting memory
thing going in the Catholic Church, and indeed, throughout Christianity.
We become vociferously strong proponents of the Old Testament when it suits
us. For example, those of us who dislike sexual diversity seem to easily
find Old Testament passages supporting our perspective. And those of us
who hungered to see Timothy McVeigh receive "the ultimate punishment" go
right to the Old Testament for the foundation of our argument. There's one
small problem with this practice. Jesus. Jesus came to establish a new
order, to negate, as he put it in the New Testament, "an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth." We are CHRISTians, not Orthodox Jews who may
justifiably justify support for capital punishment.
Number Six: We Don't Have Time for This. There was a painfully
inarticulate segment on C-Span not long ago featuring the Attorney General
of the United States, flanked by various media and legal advisors,
discussing his decision to partially televise the execution. The number of
hours and days that had apparently gone into this decision, focusing on
just one aspect of the McVeigh nightmare, became pitifully evident in the
course of the segment. With all the issues involving law, race, violence,
drugs and abuse of power in this nation facing the new administration,
should the Attorney General be spending precious time working out whether
and to whom this horror should be shown or how many minutes McVeigh should
spend each day before his execution visiting and talking on the phone?
Number Five: Martyrdom. One Connecticut daily paper featured a leading
editorial on Easter Sunday comparing McVeigh to Jesus. Unfavorably, of
course, but the sick, corrupt point was made. The government that executes
McVeigh makes him a martyr to those sad, warped folk who still believe what
he believed. They will never forget him; they will revere him. The
government that lets him sit in jail until he atrophies makes him a
nonentity whom his compatriots may very well end up being ashamed of.
Number Four: Abortion, Euthanasia and Hypocrisy. We cannot, without
succumbing yet again to the cry, "Hypocrites!", make a racket about
abortion, whine a little about euthanasia, and say nothing about the death
Number Three: Redemption. Timothy McVeigh should have had the opportunity
to seek redemption. It is a basic premise of our faith that forgiveness is
available to all who sincerely seek it. Regardless. Perhaps a few decades
in a room out of the spotlight would have moved McVeigh to do so.
Execution did not.
Number Two: No One Is Coming Back. It is the age-old, and perhaps
hackneyed, rallying cry of those who would abolish the death penalty. But
it is also true. Executing the murderer will not bring the murdered back.
This truth is as sad as it is simple. And I will venture to guess that
none of those who lost a loved one in the bombing truly exulted in their
hearts when McVeigh was killed.
And the Number One Reason Catholics Should Have Spoken Out, As a People,
Against the Execution of Timothy McVeigh: "And opening His mouth, He
taught them: 'You have heard that it was said, "Thou shalt love thy
neighbor, and shalt hate thy enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and
calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.'
That Jesus. He isn't easy, is He?