Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Interrupted Silence

Not much time for blogging lately, but if anyone hasn't already done so, please sign Amnesty's Troy Davis petition.

Capital punishment isn't a topic I like writing about. I feel it is profoundly wrong in principle, and as such I always feel a bit awkard saying 'the form of execution will be excruciating' or 'the prisoner's trial was a farce' when even if there was an easy means of execution and the prisoner's guilt was beyond all doubt, I would still oppose it.

Having said that, I would find it difficult to think of capital punishment (in most cases in the developed world) as murder but Davis's trial was so ridiculous that if he is executed then it really will be akin to murder.


  1. Hello Gregor,

    Why do you think capital punishment so "profoundly wrong in principle" ?


  2. Hello Mihai
    Did you find my blog via Bogdan?

    As the Bible says 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone'. I do not think it is for us to take away life.

    Furthermore, I come from a nation where there has been no capital punishment in roughly half a century and where we have one of the most liberal governments on earth (even if civil liberties are going downhill).

    In contrast, nations that have the death penalty tend to have repressive regimes.

    I think that when a state gives itself the right to take life then where does it draw the line? Will 'terrorists' be killed even if they have not committed crimes? From that point on, will ideological enemies be killed? Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, Hitler's Germany, Islamic Iran, saudi Arabia. So many brutal regimes exploit the death penalty.

    These are political arguments. But essentially, death is a horrific thing and it is not for us to kill. Even people who commit the worst crimes can turn around and repent.

  3. Gregor,

    I found your blog via Bogdan indeed.

    Now about the death penalty. As a christian orthodox I also think it is not for us to take life away. I remember a story about an orthodox bishop who saved the life of a criminal under a death sentence by hiding him in the altar. I'm sure the case was not singular. However, he did not militate against the death sentence itself.

    So I think there is a difference between trying to save the life of someone scared, chased by soldiers, someone who is probably already sorry for what he's done (precisely because he is experiencing the consequences of his criminal acts) and militating against the death penalty.

    Maybe if the criminal hadn't been sentenced to death in the first place he would not have had the opportunity to realize how wrong his criminal acts really were.

    I also think sending prisoners to work in mines or in Siberia, in tsarist Russia, was better than what we do nowadays with them.

    However, unfortunately, in modern times, it would be much harder for a criminal sentenced to death to hide away in the desert and cry for his sins. It so hard to just hide away nowadays.

  4. Dear Mihai
    Sorry fortaking long to respond but I was away in Edinburgh.

    I cannot share your view that
    'Maybe if the criminal hadn't been sentenced to death in the first place he would not have had the opportunity to realize how wrong his criminal acts really were'

    Dostoyevsky once wrote something like 'someone may plan a crime in their head but after doing it a black viper will gnaw their heart'. I don't remember the exact quote but I believe few people who kill will not regret what they have done afterwards.

    I don't know about Tsarist Russia; but certainly despite the propoganda against the Romanovs, they rarely executed people and I suspect that is how they held such a vast empire without the vast deathtoll that the Bolsheviks inflicted.

    Thank you for your comment. Perhaps you are thinking of St Dionysius of Zakynthos? He sheltered a man who committed a murder and when the killer confessed, St Dionysius realised it was his own brother the man had killed. It shows how the Saints can operate on a very grand level and we have to strive to oppose brutal 'eye for an eye' punishments.

  5. Dear Gregor,

    You are probably right when saying "few people who kill will not regret what they have done afterwards".


    About Tsarist Russia, I think you are also right. After the end of World War 1, Bessarabia region was reunited with the motherland Romania. It had been part of the Tsarist empire for about 100 years before that.

    Not long after the reunification they say the people from Bessarabia began to regret the days when they were under the Tsar's rule. I imagine that happened both because the Romanian authorities were malicious and incompetent but also because the life in the Tsarist Empire was not very bad.


    Yes, I think it was Saint Dionysius of Zakynthos. I heard the story during a sermon but could not remember the Saint's name.

    Thank you for your answers.