President Trump has Tweeted that the New York City terror suspect, Saypullo Saipov, deserves the death penalty. The President, with whom I generally agree, is dead wrong, this time.
Let me be clear about this: Saypullo Saipov, who clearly seems guilty of killing 8 people by mowing them down with a truck, and who is said to be happy about the carnage he wrought, is a vile human being.
But I don’t believe Saipov should be executed or that anyone else should ever be—neither by a state, nor by the federal government.
Is that because I believe that wrongly-convicted individuals could be executed? The Innocence Project has certainly proven that innocent people are sent to death row. But that isn’t my chief reason for opposing the death penalty.
Is my opposition to capital punishment because of the fact that even a person who has committed almost unthinkable acts still might find God and prove that good can overcome evil? I do believe that redemption is possible, no matter how heinous a person’s past. But that isn’t my chief reason for opposing the death penalty, either.
See, I’m not looking, chiefly, to save them; I’m looking to save the rest of us.
I oppose the death penalty because I know, for sure, deep in my heart and mind, that a society that seeks to restore the spiritual lives of those who senselessly snuff out other innocent lives is a far more powerful society in which to live and to raise one’s children. I know for certain that, in not giving up on those who seem to be lost causes, we preserve our ability to resurrect the best parts of ourselves and our loved ones.
In taking the stance that there is not one human being who is clearly beyond the power of human empathy and God’s love we harness those forces for the good of all of us.
I believe that human beings can ennoble themselves by refusing the easy path of retribution, thereby strengthening and purifying themselves to do God’s work in many, many domains.
Given 15 minutes, I believe I could convince anyone of my position. That’s how inherently powerful it is. It has nothing to do with me.
How about it, Mr. President? Give me 15 minutes, on any day, and I will meet you, anywhere in the world.
See, when we give up on one man, even a reprehensible man like Saypullo Saipov, we give up on every man, and we give up on ourselves. We risk losing our power as agents of a Higher Power. And that is an incalculably high price to pay for vengeance.
Keith Ablow, MD