Why James Eagan Holmes Should Not Be Executed
The Aurora, Colorado monster, in my opinion, will get his, in this life or the next. There are consequences for every action. Although I sympathize with some who would like to pull the lever on his electric chair, we should think twice about giving the State the right to execute people. One can make a strong argument that State execution is cruel and unusual punishment, which the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits.
The destruction the Aurora shooter unleashed needs no compassion. There is nothing that this monster can do to make it right in this life. However, asking the State to take his life won't make it right. Wanting the State to execute such monsters turns us into monsters, and instills in us the idea that two wrongs do make a right. Allowing the State to execute him with a painless death by lethal injection is too kind. Instead, make this monster think about his crimes for the rest of his life in hard labor — the kind that Nelson Mandela unjustly served.
The above does not prohibit cops or troops from shooting bad guys to protect themselves or innocent bystanders. After all, the Fifth Amendment ensures that no "person … shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Cops or troops that take fire are deprived of life if bad guys take their lives.
Years ago, before I understood the Constitution, I would have been in favor of a president signing a kill order for Osama bin Laden using drones flying above the battlefield or armed troops on the ground. Heck, I would have probably volunteered to push the button or pull the trigger. However — and please do not take what I am about to write as being soft on terrorism — most of what we know of the monster bin Laden is what our government has told us through their mouthpiece, the U.S. media. Because the Constitution protects "persons," bin Laden should have been arrested and tried in court, preferably a military one. If he had been tried and found guilty, he should have served hard, isolated time instead of the glorified martyrdom he likely desired.
Although Executive Orders 11905 (Ford), 12036 (Carter), and 12333 (Reagan) outlaw State assassination, the bin Laden raid appears to be a government sponsored assassination op. I came to this conclusion after reading an MSNBC article. According to it, the White House's "corrected account raised questions about whether the Americans ever planned to take him alive, or simply were out to kill him." Initial news reports, that were dispelled later, gave this op some cover suggesting, "bin Laden had been holding a gun and perhaps firing at U.S. forces." The Executive Orders proscribing assassination is a great example of presidents keeping their oaths to uphold the Constitution because these actions are necessary for suspect persons to be given due process.
If monsters like the Aurora shooter and bin Laden serve hard, isolated time, my positions, if adopted, are not soft on crime or terrorism.
Like offensive speech that must be protected, monsters like the Aurora shooter and bin Laden must be given due process. Politicians who celebrate executions of suspected persons or erect anti-offensive language laws are would-be tyrants. Don't be fooled. No matter how politicians justify laws or actions that limit speech or support State execution, they are eroding the Constitution. And in doing so, are violating their oath to uphold it.
Don’t be a fool.
The Constitution is holding back the floodwaters of tyranny, and it keeps us from becoming the barbarians we fear.