SDP: Commute Page's Sentence

Jon Schaff over at South Dakota Politics has an interesting take today on whether or not the Death Penalty should be used in the case of Elijah Page:
In a society very confused about life, it sends a bad signal to the population when the state takes human life, even guilty life. It could also stand as a remarkable gesture to the value of human life for Gov. Rounds to commute the sentence. In a year where legislation concerning the killing of innocent human life in the womb is on our ballot, Gov. Rounds can use the commutation of Page's sentence as an occasion to speak to the people of South Dakota about the value of human life.
Read it all here. It is curious how many of the people who are pro-choice are some of the same ones calling the Death Penalty barbaric. While at the same time they trivialize the lives of those who are as of yet unborn and a blank slate, they beg to spare lives that have been judged by society as irretrieveable.

What Jon is saying is that when in doubt, value it all. What say the readers? Are the two things linked or mutually exclusive?


Bob Ellis said…
I say the cavalier attitude we have about murderers is part of why our society is "confused" about life. If we can even get a conviction on a murderer in the first place (after all the legal game-playing), and if we can get a death sentence on a convicted murderer (which isn't guaranteed), then there's an average of 12 years from sentencing to execution. What does that say about the life of the victim?

Any time you allow innocent (that's the key here: innocent) human life to be taken without an appropriate penalty, the value of human life gets cheaper.

Would a $5 fine be appropriate punishment for a rapist? Would it be appropriate to sentence a car thief to 3 hours of community service--and let him keep the car?

The proper use of capital punishment sends the message that we consider human life so important and so valuable that the wrongful taking of it requires the ultimate penalty. Anything less assigns a value to innocent human life that is less than commensurate.
Anonymous said…
chad said…
The problem with the "innocent" vs. "guilty" "life" argument to justify the death penalty is that people who have been executed in this country have turned out to be "innocent."
Anonymous said…
Wouldn't life be easy if there were clearcut answers to everything like some of the pro-life and pro-capital punishment crowd believes there are? It's either black or white, yes or no, for them, but for people who think for themselves, it is much more complicated.
I don't like the idea of capital punishment, but if a crime is especially heinous - and there is absolutely no doubt (as opposed to reasonable doubt) that the victim is guilty - then I can accept it.
I can accept that, just like I accept early-term abortions when it is best for the mother's well-being. I don't believe abortions should be conducted as a "convenience," but there are situations - especially when rape and/or incest is involved - where the mother must be considered too.
Anonymous said…
I am a supporter of the pro-life movement, however I get upset when the self proclaimed pro-lifers say they support the death penalty (the same goes with the pro-choicers who believe it is acceptable to kill a baby in the womb, but it is unacceptable to kill a individual on death row and/or an animal/rodent). Being pro-life means supporting human life, even when the individual is guilty of a crime. Human beings should not decide when human life should end. That is God's job...not ours.

Don't get your hopes up that Gov. Rounds will commute Page's sentence. That would take courage and a strong backbone, and we all know that Gov. Rounds does not have either one.
Anonymous said…
If Rounds had a strong backbone, maybe he wouldn't have let people push him into signing that all-exclusive abortion bill.
Anonymous said…
Pro-lifers believe life begins at conception. Pro-choicers do not.

As opposed to pro-choicers who do not believe their opinions should be forced on all pregnant mothers, pro-lifers, who have no more evidence of their position than pro-choicers, believe all pregnancies should be carried to term. Regardless of what you say, Pro-Lifers want to decide the outcome of pregnancies for all mothers. Pro-choicers do not.

Pro-lifers also tend to be the same people who take the significant leap of faith necessary to believe in organized religion. Please, Bob et al, do not think you are in a position to dictate morals to all of human society when your only justification is a 1900 year old book. The same book has been responsible for millions of deaths and countless errors by governments. (Weren't both Hitler and Stalin Christian?)

Finally, according to pro-lifers, who argue that fetuses have the same rights as born-human beings, shouldn't all miscarriages should be investigated for manslaughter?
Bob Newland said…
There is a difference on several levels between vote-thirsty punk prosecutors foaming at the mouth in their zeal to kill a murderer and a woman's desire to rid herself of a foreign clump of cells growing in her own belly against her will.
Anonymous said…
The Bible verses cited by the Pro-Life people to justify their belief that life begins at conception is wide-open to various interpretations. In fact, the idea that life begins at conception is a fairly new idea. As far as citing the Bible to justify capital punishment, the Old Testament speaks about revenge, but Jesus talks about forgiveness in the New Testament.
Our country desperately needs to embrace religion again, but the religious right pushes people even farther away because of their radical beliefs and tactics.
We need moderation in religion and politics - and we need it now.
Anonymous said…
Please explain what you mean by "moderation in religion." I understand it in the political context, but in terms of religion, that doesn't make sense to me. Watering down religion to make it appeal to more people would seem to be the opposite of what religion is really all about.
Anonymous said…
I didn't mean that we should water down religion, only that we need to spend more time ministering to people and less time judging them. There are better ways to draw people to the church than trying to force things on them.
How can we expect to draw people to the church when people who trumpet their so-called Christianity want to intrude on other people's privacy and make personal decisions for them? I can't think of a better way to turn people away from religion than doing that.
Also, Christians need to follow Jesus' example more often instead of focusing on negative things in the Old Testament (an eye for an eye is the best example). Jesus spoke of loving one's neighbor and forgiving each other in the same way that God forgives each of us.
That, to me, is moderation in religion. It's definitely preferable to angry people who call other people idiots because they don't share their beliefs.
Anonymous said…
Moderation in religion....

A moderately religious person's guide to entering the Pearly Gates:

1) Attend church occasionally.
2) Pray when you want something. 3) Get your Biblical perspectives from a friend who looked on the Internet to see what others are saying.
4) Expect God's eternal blessings. Never pause to give thanks, but blame Him when things don't go your way.
5) Oppose the Biblical teachings & institutions you don't agree with, such as capital punishment and heterosexual marriage.
6) Support the dismemberment of preborn humans....maybe even have an abortion or two yourself.
7) Accept that everything is relative & there are no absolutes.
8) Believe in universalism. Preach the message that "just because it's not right for you doesn't mean it's not right for somebody else.
9) Tell your kids that the significance of Easter is the hare that delivers chocolates & jelly beans.
10) Eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow you may die.

11) Go to heaven.
Anonymous said…
That is your definition of moderation in religion, not mine. It's another fine example of what I said about passing judgment. You assume the self-righteous position and make assumptions about people because they disagree with you. How sad.
Not Confused said…
Who’s confused Bob Ellis?

I don’t fall into your pro-liar spin when you use the word innocent to back your views.

I’m a pro-lifer, and all life is important to me. I don’t believe in the death penalty. I can’t pick and choose who lives and who dies like you. The use of life-time sentences shows all life is valuable.
Anonymous said…
Why doesn't the Bible discuss the importance of life sentences as a way of illustrating the value of life?
Anonymous said…
The bible also doesn't address the 65 mph speed limit.
Anonymous said…
"a foreign clump of cells" WOW. Bob Newland.
Anonymous said…
If it got there by way of rape, as Newland was implying, then it certainly would be a "foreign clump of cells."
Anonymous said…
Speaking of the subject religion in moderation, check out this story from ABC News.

Here you have a wonderful woman who has clearly dedicated a large part of her life to teaching her faith and she got the ax because of her gender. The bible says so. I think this makes it clear how Bob Ellis and his right wing Christian male friends view women...we are to be seen and not heard.

Funny how these men take this part of the old testiment literally, but when Christ, you know they man they say they follow, says forgive the sinner, they interpret that to mean fry him.
Dudley Sharp said…
Here is an interesting take on the different Pro-Life views:

1) 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated  succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:  June, 2004  "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?, Catholic Online, 7/11/2004

2)  Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000, "At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). When Pilate calls attention to his authority to crucify him, Jesus points out that Pilate's power comes to him from above-that is to say, from God (Jn 19:1 l).Jesus commends the good thief on the cross next to him, who has admitted that he and his fellow thief are receiving the due reward of their deeds (Lk 23:41). "
"Paul repeatedly refers to the connection between sin and death. He writes to the Romans with an apparent reference to the death penalty, that the magistrate who holds authority does not bear the sword in vain; for he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer (Rom 13:4). No passage in the New Testament disapproves of the death penalty."
"Turning to Christian tradition, we may note that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church are virtually unanimous in their support for capital punishment, even though some of them such as St. Ambrose exhort members of the clergy not to pronounce capital sentences or serve as executioners."
"The Roman Catechism, issued in 1566, three years after the end of the Council of Trent, taught that the power of life and death had been entrusted by God to civil authorities and that the use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to the fifth commandment. "
"Summarizing the verdict of Scripture and tradition, we can glean some settled points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death."
"The Catholic magisterium does not, and never has, advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. I know of no official statement from popes or bishops, whether in the past or in the present, that denies the right of the State to execute offenders at least in certain extreme cases. The United States bishops, in their majority statement on capital punishment, conceded that Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime. Cardinal Bernardin, in his famous speech on the Consistent Ethic of Life here at Fordham in 1983, stated his concurrence with the classical position that the State has the right to inflict capital punishment.
"Pope John Paul II spoke for the whole Catholic tradition when he proclaimed, in Evangelium Vitae, that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral (EV 57). But he wisely included in that statement the word innocent. He has never said that every criminal has a right to live nor has he denied that the State has the right in some cases to execute the guilty. "

("The Death Penalty: A Right to Life Issue?" at
NOTE: although Dulles makes palpable errors of fact and logic within the sections "The Purposes of Punishment" and "Harm Attributed to the Death Penalty", it is, otherwise, a solid historical treatment of the Church and the death penalty)
Anonymous said…
I am pro-choice because I value life.
Dudley Sharp said…
I suspect those both supporting and opposing the death penalty value life.

In fact, execution was chosen by those that felt murder was so severe that the criminal should acrifice their own life.

Just as we all greatly value freedom we take it away for other transgressions.
Anonymous said…
Am I wrong on this....... nowhere does the Bible talk about abortion?

Yes, I realize that one of the commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Kill", but surely this commandment had exceptions, because the Bible is filled with examples of acceptable killing.

So who gets to decide which modern-day exceptions are acceptable?

In the case of abortion, can't we just leave that up to people and their own relationship with God?

Or is the alleged sin simply that the rest of us are too tolerant by living in a state with laws that permit someone to decide these matters in the context of their relationship with God, rather than through their relationship with the State?
Anonymous said…
"In the case of abortion, can't we just leave that up to people and their own relationship with God?"

....As long as everything is relative and there are no absolutes, let's do the same with all acts that take another's life.

Just trying to be consistent.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...
I am pro-choice because I value life.

2:56 PM

...and I am dumb because I value intelligence.

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