Compassion And Executions

Ever since the execution of Clayton Locket went awry and caused what appeared to be extreme suffering, so much so it took him 43 minutes to die of a heart attack after the execution was stopped, some have said it was what he deserved. The victim’s family has been silent refusing to comment, but their neighbors and community in Oklahoma have been quite vocal, and the governor who apparently did not disagree with them called Locket evil. Others commenting on Locket’s execution have shared similar sentiments. What strikes me about the comments from any who felt Locket merited a torturous death is the lack of compassion. He died at the age of 38 after being in prison for 15 years, mainly on death row. The state in the name of the people imprisoned him and took his life because of what he did, which unquestionably is a horrible crime. He contributed to the murder of a 19 year old girl, and then to burying her alive after she was shot. But being civilized means we abstain from cruel punishment or in some way place ourselves above it. Christians, Buddhists, Jews each have their own explanations as to why mercy, charity, kindness, empathy, love, whatever form compassion takes, is necessary in this kind of situation. While the execution has sparked discussion about many topics related to capital punishment and executions, we need to add that of compassion. What does its lack in this instance say about us? Can the lack of compassion make us evil? Can it be said that if those who commit criminal acts had had compassion they might have stopped themselves? Do we have the right to abstain from compassion when someone else does?

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