The Executioner

Maximilien Robespierre, one of the people responsible for creating the Committee of Public Safety and who succumbed to its power by being executed in 1794

A man who served as the executioner of 62 individuals has changed his mind. He now thinks the death penalty is wrong. Jerry Givens was Virginia’s chief executioner for 17 years.

“From the 62 lives I took, I learned a lot,” Givens said.

I have always had a problem with the state, formally and officially, killing people. Of course, there are many who deserve it. Killers, rapists, psychopaths.

My hangup is the government, acting on my behalf, on our behalf. It brings to mind the arguments of the founders and mob rule, what so many innocents witnessed during the days of the French Revolution and the Committee of Public Safety.1 Then, there’s also the example of the Nazis, who made death by the state a national pastime.

Stalin. Hitler. Pol Pot. So many people murdered by the evil men who took power and governed ruthlessly. I don’t want to see this ever happen in America.

ajh

1. Note how many government entities, on all levels, use the phrase public safety.  Some even use “Committee for Public Safety,” apparently oblivious to the negative historical context.

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