It comes as no surprise to us conservatives that evil exists in the world, but it bears repeating ever so often to our liberal colleagues. Currently, it’s being repeated in the unfolding courtroom drama detailing the murder of a Connecticut family from a home invasion and robbery gone awry by two hapless career criminals the system was unable to rehabilitate. It is eerily reminiscent of a similar crime committed in Holcomb, Kansas back in 1959 that resulted in the deaths of another family by another pair of hapless unreformed career criminals. I speak, of course, of the murder of Herb Clutter and his family at the hands of Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith.
One is struck by the ordinary appearances of individuals you would think nothing of when passing on the street. Such is the banality of evil that defies our expectations of being able to recognize and avoid its adherents. We’ve seen such banality displayed countless times by the Nazi regime at Nuremburg, mafia dons wearing the dual hats of crime syndicate leader and grandfather, and serial killers who escape detection due to their uncanny ordinariness that allows them to hide in plain sight. Our fear is heightened by this inability to detect and distinguish between individuals capable of such brutality and ordinary strangers.
Connecticut liberals have fallen silent in their calls to abolish the state’s death penalty now that they’ve gotten an up-close-and-personal look at evil in their neighborhood. Richard Blumenthal dropped his stance against the death penalty during the campaign, and while this was no doubt due to political expediency, it was expedient due to this case.
I’m reminded of all the California liberals who rushed out to obtain handguns during the Rodney King riots in 1992 as a frightened populace sought solace in self-protection, only to be informed of the 15-day waiting period liberals had insisted upon, and eventual suspension of all firearm and ammunition sales (read about it here). My God, these people need protection and they need it right now! Hey, we tried to tell you that, but you didn’t want to hear it. Consequently, sales of baseball bats skyrocketed, though not for love of the game.
After the riot when calm was supposed to prevail due to the imposed 15-day waiting period, gun sales soared as citizens made a rational choice for self-protection after witnessing the state’s inability to control violence that resulted in 53 deaths. It’s easy to mouth platitudes on the natural goodness of human beings from relative safety in times of peace and calm, and quite another to come face-to-face with unrestrained evil brutality that has neither the inclination nor the patience to be reasoned with.
A gun is a tool with no more moral inclination than a hammer, which is just as deadly in the hands of a skilled and malicious wielder, than the fastest, most powerful, most menacing-looking firearm in the world. The tool does not kill. The individual kills. Evil does not seize a tool, it seizes the individual.
Should the defendants suffer death for their horrendous crimes from an angry and fearful populace wishing to draw the line in the sand that they will not tolerate evil on this scale? I would have to answer yes as its employment will at the very least reduce the perpetrators’ recidivism rate and signal that the days of soft-on-crime liberalism are over in the Constitution State. I concur with Mathew McConaughey’s assessment in the 1996 movie A Time to Kill where he said “The only problem with the death penalty is that it isn’t used enough.”
The death penalty debate will continue after this case has been adjudicated and events dim in the memory. It is a sad state of affairs indeed that cause the death penalty to be imposed, and it brings no joy to society to employ it as a means of punishment. We would prefer that people follow the example of Jesus and love their enemies as they love themselves. Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves. But alas, evil exists.
Evil is not to be appeased, understood, rationalized, forgiven, or ignored. It is to be punished so that its practitioners understand that their actions have consequences and will not be tolerated. Every defendant who stands before a judge with his attorney pleading not to make an example out of his client is just that – an example of the consequences of breaking laws grounded in morality for the betterment of mankind.
Evil would have us believe that you can’t legislate morality. The complete absurdity of this point is revealed in the fact that murder, robbery, rape, and assault are both immoral and illegal. For every pseudo-legitimate doper insisting that you can’t legislate morality in support of his cause to legalize his controlled substance of choice, remind him that murder is immoral and not something he would like to have visited upon himself at the hands of brutish thugs.
Evil is subtle and seductive. Our natures are prone to its seductive power and we must steel ourselves against its allure. It seeks to draw us in slowly and envelop us in its sticky web. We must reinforce our guard through careful study of the Bible as we seek to escape the darkness of evil for the light of Christ.
Finally, we must remember that when we let our guard down, evil manifests itself in the form of brutal crimes against innocence. We struggle with the question of why bad things happen to good people, when the answer is often that good people allow themselves to be lulled into creating the conditions for bad things to happen.