published Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Capital Punishment

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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whatever said...

That is what the sword is there to represent. Most importantly the blindfold represents impartiality, not a lack of due care.

The distinction does matter.

September 25, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.
OllieH said...

Great cartoon, Clay. The Virginia case was truly a travesty.

Despite whatever's assertion, the sword of justice represents punishment in general and not the death penalty specifically. We are the only western country that still carries out such a barbaric sentence.

September 25, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.
whatever said...

Well, the problem as I see it is in the blindfold, not the sword, that's what I was saying.

September 25, 2010 at 12:24 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

And the blood of the victims of the lady whom Virginia executed? If you complain about a punishment, I'm interested in what you've done about the victims, and done for the dear ones of the victims, of the person about to be punished.

Done about the victim(s) of a murder? We can honor them by taking life for life, with care for the facts and for justice. If we fail to take life for life, we're saying the life of the murderer is worth more than the life of his (or her) victim.

King Jesus was crucified to death between two terrorists. One of them asked for a stay of execution; he went to Hell. The other confessed that the two thugs were getting what they deserved; he appealed to Jesus and went to Heaven. If I were murdered, I'd be happy to see my murderer in Heaven, but I think it right for the government to execute him. (Nothing against execution by stoning since God has been known to call for it, but if you're looking for a painless method, check out Analog Science Fiction's idea of execution by breathing pure nitrogen. Since air is 80% nitrogen anyway, the shift to 100% might not hurt physically.)

September 25, 2010 at 12:27 a.m.
SavartiTN said...

Ah yes, the Theresa Lewis execution. Guilty of conspiring and having her husband and stepson murdered. The actual murderers got life in prison while Ms. Lewis got the death penalty. Strange story this one. Did justice prevail?

September 25, 2010 at 12:27 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall... and was pushed

September 25, 2010 at 12:30 a.m.
whatever said...

Well if God wants somebody stoned to death, let God throw the first stone.

Unless you believe there's some value in making it gruesome to test the hand of the person ordering the execution, which is a view I can respect.

September 25, 2010 at 12:32 a.m.
Francis said...

hey, Ollie........that's a sword in her hand, not a paddle.

September 25, 2010 at 12:34 a.m.
OllieH said...

I think it's odd that the very people who seem to fear Sharia Law the most, are the ones who most agree with its principles. This is just the kind of 'justice' that would make the Taliban proud.

The only convicts who are currently exempt from the death penalty are minors and the mentally retarded. This woman's IQ (72) put her within 2 points of that latter designation.

But that didn't seem to matter.

The actual murders (she was convicted of contracting, and not committing the crime) testified that they took advantage of her mental state when they convinced her to participate in the plan.

That didn't seem to matter either.

The first woman to be executed in Virginia in a century, and the first to be put to death in the US in the past five years, didn't even commit the act for which she was executed.

The men who did actually kill her husband and step-son? They weren't even sentenced to death.

September 25, 2010 at 12:46 a.m.
whatever said...

Indeed, that is why this makes for a very troubling set of circumstances.

September 25, 2010 at 12:55 a.m.
blackwater48 said...

I am conflicted when it comes to the death penalty.

On one hand, I believe that some people don't deserve to go on living. Their crimes are too horrendous and depraved.

Guys like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Bundy but heck, the list goes on ad nauseam.

The best thing we can do for some criminals is just strap them in and send them on their way.

On the other hand, there have been too many cases of death row inmates being set free because of DNA testing. Unfortunately, not all States treat DNA evidence the same way.

Who knew eye witness testimony is probably the least reliable?

Stands to reason that the government, OUR government, has executed innocent people.

If you are one of those hopping mad tea baggers, why aren't you angry about this?

I'm not saying this woman in Virginia was innocent. I'm saying that as long as there is a death penalty it seems innocent people will be executed.

Is everybody okay with that?

September 25, 2010 at 1:54 a.m.
moonpie said...

Andrew, so much for a new covenant. I don't recall Jesus advocating an eye for an eye. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to where you get the idea that he does.

In this specific case, I have to wonder what kind of defense attorney she had. You just don't enter a plea of guilty at the outset of a capital case without a plea deal with the prosecution.

It seems her attorney had an an IQ OF 72 as well.

In this case, I can understand how some people support the execution. She admitted guilt. She assumed the mantle. The legal incompetence may not bother those who feel that all three should be executed. I can understand the reasoning, even if I don't agree.

Combining Ollie's and blackwater's statements, iif we moved even quicker to execute, we would guarantee more innocent people would be put to death.

Personally, I would not have a problem with the death penalty if innocent people were not killed.

September 25, 2010 at 6:54 a.m.
dougmusn said...

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Gandhi

September 25, 2010 at 7:01 a.m.
hambone said...

We seem to have got away from the real reason for the death penalty. It is meant as a deterent. However when someone convicted to death spends 20 years or more on death row and then is put to sleep with painless injections it loses it deterent. If it would be used swifter and involved a moderate amount of pain, maybe it would not be needed as much.

September 25, 2010 at 8:02 a.m.
woody said...

Gandhi's notariety notwithstanding..his was only an opinion. As are much of what has already been written and what will be left before the day is through.

"...a travesty," I believe Whatever stated. And Blackwater48 is conflicted...

Well, let me tell don't know what a travesty is or how conflicted you can be until you have been awakened by a phone call on your 40th birthday to be told your 19 year old nephew has been beaten to death with a tire iron.

And beaten so badly neither his mother nor anyone else at his funeral could view him, one last time, before he was finally laid to rest.

It's been 22 years and just over a week since that morning, but I can assure you I feel as strongly today as I did then. If given the chance I would pay to 'pull the switch' or 'push the plunger' in order to dispatch that piece of human garbage to his final resting place.

Having gotten that out of my system, let me say this, "Lady Justice" is blindfolded, but not because she is disgusted at some of the things we humans do to one another. It's because she understands justice has to be served, no matter the circumstances or the age or gender of the perpetrator.

And, may I add, capitol punishment will never be a true deterrent to crime until it is administered equally and equitably under the law. And that will never happen until we stop substituting one person's opinion for another's and simply follow the law.

That's one uncle's opinion, Woody

September 25, 2010 at 8:20 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Oh, woody. I'm so sorry. How tragic. I suspect that my feelings about the death penalty would be altered if my family suffered such a crime.

September 25, 2010 at 8:30 a.m.

I think I get Clay's viewpoint now. Killing innocent unborn children good, killing convicted murderers bad.

September 25, 2010 at 8:53 a.m.
ITguy said...

I personally think that life on death row is a worse punishment than either execution or life in prison. To never know when or if you are going to be executed would be an awful existence. I would rather die than live a life like that.

Notwithstanding, this cartoon is about a specific case in which justice was not served. The actual killers received a "lighter" sentence. How is that justice?

I am personally opposed to capital punishment because I cannot reconcile this practice with the teachings of Christ. We are taught to pray "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us". I know that this means nothing to the atheists out there, but it seems to be the "Christians" out there who so often want to fry people.

September 25, 2010 at 9:03 a.m.
ITguy said...


I totally respect your opinion. I have nothing to say except, "I am saddened by your loss".

September 25, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
whatever said...

"...a travesty," I believe Whatever stated.

You believe wrong. I haven't used the word travesty here at all. The person who used the word travesty was OllieH.

I believe the circumstances are very troubling, but not, I think, for the reasons you might believe.

Anyway, please be careful who you claim is saying what.

September 25, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.
InspectorBucket said...

From a Christian point of view, what worldly act of any eternal value can be done for those injured?

Revenge and compensation are secular things, things of this world and its limits. Truer Christian counsel would gently guide the victims to setting aside selfishness, setting aside thoughts of revenge or compensation.

Taken in this view, accepting revenge through public execution and expecting compensation in exchange for a murdered loved one certainly makes a travesty of the Life and the Soul lost in the crime. That would be falsehood, setting up things of this world, Blood and Money, as somehow equal to the Soul that ultimately belongs to Another.

The Soul of the Criminal and the Soul of the Victim are of equal value. Both should be availed the full opportunity to receive God's Grace and Repent. Mortals, working within their worldly limits, choose to believe otherwise.

The Murderer's truest crime is to cut off the life of another mortal with all of its sins on its head, preventing the Victim from making a full account to God. In execution, the State makes the same presumption, assuming it has some wisdom to act in place of God, pretending that it is acting in the place of God. What mortal can really presume to say to another, I have granted you the necessary time to repent, now die and accept the results?

If a Soul is a Soul, then that should be the only measure.

The Gospels do not agree on this point, but the lesson is sound. Humility is the key virtue. Pride and Vanity are the traps luring murderer, judge, and executioner.

September 25, 2010 at 9:14 a.m.
xsiveporsche said...

Yes the circumstances are troubleing. But would they be as troubleing if it was a man that was executed, I think not. I beleive in capitol punishment. I think anyone who is convicted of a crime, like murder, molestation of a child, rape of anyone, even selling drugs to a child, should be given a second trial with a new judge jury, prosecutor, and defense attorney and if convicted a second time then it should go to a panel of judges who determine if all the eveidense was heard and there is nothing that could possibly determine the innocence of this person. If the judges all agree it was done properly then the person should be brought back to where the crime was commited and hung in the public square until dead and then the body left for a few days so everyone can see what happenes when you commit these crimes. I bet our crime rate would drop drastically. Do this within 90 days. No more 20 years waiting on deathrow going though appeals wasting the taxpayers money. If you think I am Barbaric then you have no idea. I lost my wife to a bunch of drug dealers who only killed her to try and stay out of jail. What did they get in the state of Florida, some jail time and a slap on the wrist. This was 7 years ago this November and only 1 of the 4 is still in prison. Sorry if I seem calous but hang em high until dead. I have no mercy left in me.

September 25, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I am sorry for your loss, xsiveporsche. How horrible and sad.

September 25, 2010 at 9:36 a.m.
Francis said...

how is the execution of this woman a travesty and not the execution of the unborn? you cannot approve of abortion and condem captital punishment.

September 25, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.
rolando said...

Looks good to me. One less drain on taxpayers' dollars.

September 25, 2010 at 10:11 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Although I suspect there is more to the story, from the surface it appears that a woman with low IQ hired a couple of thugs to kill her husband. She gets death, they get life. It is possible that she was preyed upon? (someone with an IQ of 72 being the "mastermind" seems preposterous) As death sentences seem to get analyzed multiple times, I have to suspect that there is ample evidence against her. I am not condoning the death sentence per se, but what seems extraordinary might very well be, just not for the reasons that are apparent. Judges and juries are hesitant to use death penalties for women or those who are cognitively challenged. Prosecutors don't go for the death penalty in these cases as judges and juries might not convict if the penalty seems harsh given the circumstances. That the sentence was handed down and carried out must mean that the evidence was compelling.

September 25, 2010 at 10:28 a.m.
whatever said...

Well there is no doubt as to culpability as far as I know.

September 25, 2010 at 10:32 a.m.
LZSally said...

I would suggest reading Sister Helen Prejean's book "Dead Man Walking". Jesus was 100% against Capital Punishment. As far as I can deduce for these reasons: It is not a deterrent and it is not justice. Justice would be having the victim of murder, brought back to life. And that will not happen. So we are only left with vengeance. And "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord" As for legalized abortion, in my view, it is accepted in America for the same reasons we have legalized Capital punishment and other legalized killings. Hell, look at any movie marquee and I'll bet you see someone with a gun. And in that movie he or she will be killing someone. So, if you would stop abortions, the first step to take is to put an end to Capital punishment. And then,quit glorifying killing.

September 25, 2010 at 11:31 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

The way to end abortion is to end unintended pregnancy.

September 25, 2010 at 11:35 a.m.
whatever said...

That would certainly prevent many of them. Not all, there are some cases where it's a matter of medical necessity to preserve the life of the mother, and some where it's a case of what to do in cases of mal-development.

I know I wouldn't want to face that choice myself, but many people do have to do so.

I can't condemn them out of hand myself.

September 25, 2010 at 11:39 a.m.
woody said...

Whatever..I do truly apologize. I often say I can get into enough trouble on my own without the help of any other. So, please accept my apology.

As for Francis..only you, I would guess, could conceivably confuse executing someone according to the law with making a LEGAL abortion decision. And NO..before you even get it out of your mouth, no one is or has ever been PRO ABORTION. It's considered PRO CHOICE. Even the PRO LIFERS ask everyone to CHOOSE life. So, it would seem even they are PRO CHOICE to an extent.

However, if that is not enough of an argument for you Francis..maybe you'd like to try and convince my sister....

Calming back down now, Woody

September 25, 2010 at 11:57 a.m.
whatever said...

Whatever..I do truly apologize. I often say I can get into enough trouble on my own without the help of any other. So, please accept my apology.

Thanks, it's easy to misattribute something so I don't bear you any ill-will, and I do appreciate you recognizing your mistake.

September 25, 2010 at 12:02 p.m.
joecrash1 said...

Justice should be swinging the sword instead of leaning on it.

September 25, 2010 at 12:47 p.m.
hambone said...

well this cartoon was about capital punishment then we got into abortion, then birth control, next it will be terrorists, then tax cuts and on and on.

And Francis will blame it all on you know who.

September 25, 2010 at 1:39 p.m.
whatever said...

Joyce DeWitt?

September 25, 2010 at 2:05 p.m.
xsiveporsche said...

You all know my feeling on Capitol punishment and why. Abortion is nothing more than capitol punishment on an unborn child who has no chance to defend themselves. Some say it is ok on a baby that was conceived in rape, incest or a malformed baby. I can see and understand your arguement there but I am still against it. But at the same time in those cases I am willing to concede to the mothers choice. It may sound a bit hypocritical and I understand this. I can not begin to understand what a woman may go through that has been raped and then finds she is pregnant from the rapest. I also can not begin to fathom how a woman could raise a child like that having to look everyday that the child is the product of a rape. Think if the child someday found out and wanted to find their father and then all of a sudden the rapest is back in the womans life. I do not believe abortion should be used as a form of birth control. I also think that babies having babies is wrong. My girls wewre born when I was 21 and 23 and I raised them by myself as the mother was an alcoholic and then a druggie in later years. We were both to young even then to have children. I remarried later and my wife was wonderful to my children until her untimely death. I know it sounds a little far fetched but it would be nice to be able to stop young people from having babies until they prove they are mature enough to handle the requirements of parenthood. They should also make the minimum age for marrying until they are mature enough. My first wife and I were to young to marry and have children. Marrage should be for life and not for a year or two or until you get tired of it. Friends of urs daughter married 4 months ago. They are both 18. Yesterday she said she did not want to be married anymore. Is it not funny that the older you get the smarter your parents become!

September 25, 2010 at 3:46 p.m.
Clara said...

Woody, Porsche,

I rode around for a week with a large, sharp axe, trying to locate a man who had attacked and abducted a daughter who escaped with relatively minor damage before he got her completely alone.

I grieve because this and other things in her life have separated her from reality.

I understand the conflict of true Christianity and the immediacy of the basic human reaction.

Please accept my condolences. You never forget.

September 25, 2010 at 4:29 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

xsiveporsche, I agree with you on two points: people get married too young, and people have children they cannot care for financially or emotionally. It's hard enough on the young folks (such as yourself) you find themselves having to grow up much too fast. It's harder on the children, who, unlike yours, often just get dumped or neglected by parents who cannot handle being parents. I don't apply the concept of morality to many things, being an "evil" atheist and all, but I do in the case of people having children they cannot or will not care for. As much as I don't like government interference in private lives, I could almost argue for mandatory birth control through age 25. Far sadder than too many abortions is too many children born into families that can't provide a stable, loving home and learning environment. You, sir, are clearly an exception, and your children are most fortunate.

September 25, 2010 at 4:41 p.m.
alprova said...

Woody & xsiveporsche, I sincerely offer my condolences to the both of you on your loss. There are no words that will make either of you feel any better. I know.

I break from the pack when it comes to the death penalty. I do believe that there are crimes committed that do call for people to be put to death, and I see no reason whatsoever to put a person to death painlessly. Their brief moments of physical pain in no manner compare to the psychological pain and scarring that they cause others to bear.

My only concern in implementing the death penalty is that there must be no doubt whatsoever to a person's guilt. It should never be based solely on eyewitness testimony or because a cohort turned evidence on another. Physical evidence should confirm the crime.

Regarding this specific case, Author and Virginia resident, John Grisham, wrote a fine assessment outlining the facts of this case and opined that justice was not served, albeit for a different set of reasons. He further stated that Virginia is not known for applying justice equally or fairly, especially when it comes to implementing the death penalty.

How many people were aware that all three defendants received their judgment from the same trial judge? I was amazed to learn that myself.

Matthew Shallenberger committed suicide while in prison in 2006. Rodney Fuller is serving a life sentence without any possibility for parole.

Other details in the case;

Did Theresa Lewis deserved to die? I think she did. She confessed to the crime. She gave the two men $1,600 to purchased the weapons used in the crime. She expressed remorse for her involvement many times. She apologized to her step-daughter minutes before she was put to death. These are all acts of someone in complete control of their faculties.

However, all three should have received the same sentences. They all three deserved to be put to death for their crimes.

September 25, 2010 at 10:57 p.m.
whatever said...

Well, in regards to the painlessly, I believe that in the event of a mistake being made, I would not want to have to say "I didn't make every effort to avoid causing unnecessary injury" because I'd rather try to be better than the person I condemned

Since I do not believe in my, or anybody's perfection, I'm going to choose to err on the side of caution.

That's my reasoning.

September 25, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.
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