Our death penalty regime is predicated on the schizophrenia of wanting bloody vengeance while refusing to look at what we want because we wish to think of ourselves as Good White Christians while we kill.
Time was, we held our executions and lynchings in public and had barbaric picnic feasts like the raw brutal animals we have been for much of our history. But we reached an uncertain tipping point in the past century or so when, for more people than not, execution–or any rate enjoyment of executions–became a shameful thing. In most civilized countries, the death penalty was outlawed altogether as the barbarous thing it is.
In the United States–a country in which civilized impulses have always warred with proud, stupid, brutality–the long slow push to abolish the death penalty has particularly put the emphasis on “slow” and the apostles of backwardness here, as in so many cases, have been the Greatest and Proudest Catholics of All Time, along with Good White Evangelical conservatives. They have spent the last 20 years or so spitting on and shouting down the popes and bishops who have called for the abolition of the death penalty, as well as declaring Catholic activists against the death penalty such as Sr. Helen Prejean “fake Catholics” by virtue of the authority they pull out of their asses.
Because of their evil work, America remains shackled–along with such deeply Christian regimes as Islamic despotisms and brutal Communist dictatorships–to a system that kills people who do not need to be killed, so that Qhristians who love death could continue to enjoy the frisson of slaughter combined with moral superiority to their victims.
But we no longer use the noose in the town square, or draw and quarter men before cheering mobs, or guillotine for the entertainment of savages, or invite the goodmen of the town to tar and feather the objects of our vengeful cruelty in the name of Justice. Rather, we execute quietly and away from the public eye. We perfume our Bronze Age bloodlust with shitty theology about “retributive justice” delivered by tweedy conservative Catholic philosophers puffing on pipes and spitting at the Magisterium in between Latin quotations to make it sound like our slaughter is Just and Wise because it is no longer public entertainment. We hide our butchery while still babbling incoherently that these killings nobody sees are a “deterrent” to those from whom we hide them.
In short, we are in the ridiculous position of wanting to indulge our bloodlust while refusing to admit it even to ourselves in our shame. And we are so eager to do it that we will butcher four innocents out of a hundred just to electrocute, poison, and strangle 96 who did not need to be killed. Unlike Abraham, who sought to spare Sodom for the sake of innocents there, the Greatest Catholics of All Time hunger to shed the blood of the innocent if only they can have the pleasure of killing those they believe they have the righteousness to kill. And they don’t mind treading down the teaching of Holy Church into the mud to do it.
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
Which brings us to one of the last achievements of this low, vile, vindictive, cruel administration and its sociopathic child-king, taking out his last violent vengeance on whatever victims he can lay hands on. To that end, super-Catholic Opus Dei member Bill Barr–winner of the Christifidelis Laici Award for being one of America’s Greatest Living Catholics (according to a gathering of MAGA Qatholics in September)–is rushing to reinstate federal executions and kill five people who do not need to be killed, because the teaching of the Church means nothing to him when his dimestore antichrist mob boss hungers for blood in his spite. Like Herod ordering executions on the day he died so that there would be weeping in Jerusalem, Trump just wants to spitefully kill a few people on his way out–and MAGA Qatholics are his biggest fans for doing it.
That’s bad enough, but in addition to this is a small but telling nod to the barbarism and culture of Saudi Arabia, where bloody executions are still a form of public entertainment. It’s this: Trump wants to return to the use of firing squads. In short, we can’t make executions a public spectacle, but we can at least make them as violent and gory as possible. No more of these clinical executions. Let’s at least make a push toward the splintered bones and spraying blood of yore. We can’t do everything, but we can do what we can toward making executions as satisfyingly violent as possible for Trump the Id Monster and his cult.
There are two ways of seeing this. One is to regard it as a huge step backwards, as indeed this whole administration can be seen. There is certainly a huge case to be made for that.
But I look at it (and indeed at the entire past four years), not as a step backward, but as revelation of what was always there and in need of exposure. It is a long-overdue battery of x-rays and CAT scans on a massively sick patient who has hitherto refused to see a doctor.
The great gift Donald Trump gives us is that, being pure Id, he does not give a shit about trying to hide his demonic desires for cruelty and savagery. He has no Qatholic cultural politesse he needs to uphold for the sake of appearances. He does not, like the Greatest Catholics of All Time, deny his naked bloodlust and pretend he is just being all Thomistic and stuff. He is frank and up front about his naked pagan brutality. He does not, like polite Qhristian devotees of the “prolife” Cult of Death, try to perfume the stench of his bloodlust with phony BS about “retributive justice” so as to make his bloodlust sound all Western Civilizationy. He does not want to sanitize the barbarism with clinicians in lab coats using sterile needles to administer slaughter disguised as medicine. Like the savage he is, he wants to see blood, viscera, and brain matter sprayed across a wall. He wants brutality the old-fashioned way. If he could, he would market executions on pay-per-view so that his mob could enrich him with howling at gladiatorial death matches.
And he makes very clear that he is giving the MAGA Cult exactly what they want, as he gave them what they wanted when he invited them to get down and roll around with him in the mud of misogyny, racism, cruelty, and selfishness for the past four years. He does all he can to tell his Cult to stop being so shy about their dark, demonic desires and indulge. He did not put these dark desires in them. They were there already, only awaiting the right enzyme to activate them, to give them permission to come out and prey.
Why call that a gift? Because it makes stark and clear that those Qatholics and Qhristians who join his clarion call to barbarism are enemies of the gospel and not people you need ever listen to again as representing some alternative view of it. This is not hard. You may or may not be Catholic. But given the choice between the Pope saying, “Abolish the death penalty. Do not kill people when you don’t have to” and a barbaric thug and his cult screaming for blood and telling the Pope to go to hell it’s just not hard to tell who is speaking by the Holy Spirit and who is a vengeful bloodthirsty antichrist savage at war with the Church.
Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19)