Saturday, March 12, 2005

Death as Rehab

What is The Age of Reason?

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau
On one of the blogs I frequent, I saw a thread on capital punishment, and the recent Supreme Court decision. No more capital punishment for murderous children. There was a pretty strong difference of opinion.

I got the idea somewhere once upon a time that if you could hold two opposing views in your mind at once, somewhere in the resultant mental tension you might glimpse the truth.

Death and Rehab. Two approaches to a problem. The problem of murder.

Children and Culpability. What is the Age of Reason? For the Catholic Church, age 7 is when you are supposed to know right from wrong. Within that context, at that age, you can decide to sin. Prior to that age, your actions are not Sin, as Sin is a conscious decision to do wrong, and separate yourself from God.

So, death penalties for seven year olds? Well, I should hope not. But, if not at age 7, then what about age 10? Or 15? Or 18? Or ever?

And, why is it necessary to even consider such an awful concept?

Some questions worth pondering: At what age should someone know that it is wrong to kill a fellow human being, and what should be done about someone who knows better but does it anyway? And how relevant is age to that question?

I think by the age of 7 you should know that you should not kill people. And you should know there are consequences to the decision to kill. But that means we really aren't talking about crime and punishment, we are talking about raising children. And we are also talking about whether or not there should be a consequence to bad decisions. And we are talking about at what point is an action a bad decision and at what point is it a simple mistake?

If we are talking about how children are raised, and, if it takes a village to raise a child, then is the village culpable? If so, then how do you rehab society? Is capital punishment of the individual an attempt to rehabilitate society as a whole, by teaching in the grimmest of fashions that murder is wrong? And that there are consequences to bad decisions? If so, is it working? If it is not working, then what? A pat on the head and a Snickers bar?

Death as Rehab. Somewhere in the consideration of these opposing concepts there may be a truth worth figuring out.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just so glad to see you are back. Will, maybe, comment on much, later. As you know, this business of earning a living, cramps one's style.