12/17/20 — The Gnashing of Teeth and the Smashing of Keyboards

Truthfully, there’s only one article you need to read this week: “The Man I Saw Them Kill” by Elizabeth Bruenig in the New York Times. The Trump administration on the way out; its death rattle is the infliction of parting cruelties. After 17 years, federal executions have resumed. The article follows Bruenig’s witnessing of the execution of Alfred Bourgeois on Friday, December 12th, 2020, the second federal execution in two days. The humble morality of Bruenig’s article, her reluctance to shy away from all those details that make simple — as opposed to complex — opposition to the death penalty impossible, the Christian charity of its depiction of an evil human — all these things make it the only important article this week.

“I oppose capital punishment, as did 39 percent of Americans questioned for a 2018 Pew poll. I have written for years that it ought to be abolished. I believe that it is too absolute a penalty for a trial process so utterly limited, and I’m convinced that it is both arbitrary and prone to bias. In the purest and highest reaches of my spirit, I detest the idea of killing.

And yet the impulse to erase from the earth every trace of a crime as monstrous as Mr. Bourgeois’s still arises in me, at times, pitting my emotions against my intellect. On some irrational level, it occasionally feels not only appropriate but also crucial, urgent. Some would say this is proof that execution satisfies a natural impulse, and a good deal of human history supports their claim. When I arrive on the brink of agreement, a favored verse from Jeremiah echoes in my thoughts: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” I don’t credit those impulses with any righteousness, but they persist nevertheless.”

I may update this with more articles, but right now this is the only thing I care to focus on.

Until tomorrow,

Michael Ducker