Last weekend, The Seattle Times editorial board reconsidered its position on capital punishment, spurred by Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that week of a moratorium on the death penalty while he’s in office. The Times now holds the death penalty as fundamentally flawed, overly expensive and morally wrong, and it is time for it to end in Washington. The best letters on the topic are below:
Ending a barbaric practice
I would just like to voice my enthusiastic support of The Seattle Times’ editorial against the death penalty [“It’s time for the state to end the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 18].
America really needs to look over its shoulder and see whom we are teamed up with on this barbaric practice. Hint: None of Western Europe or any other civilized developed nations are with us on this one. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis are not with us. Churches, judges and medical personnel who have seen the death penalty in action are not with us.
We need to step up and find a decent solution to administer justice to the criminals whom we believe to be unsafe in the community. Killing is not a business in which the state should be engaged.
Thank you so much for having the insight and the courage to point this out to your readers. You are earning our respect.
Shelley Gibson, Seattle
Treat abortion similarly
Thank you for demanding the end of the death penalty. Now draw up the courage to do the same with abortion. Abortion, like the death penalty, uses violence to solve a complicated social problem. A baby is a human being and not simply fetal tissue. And unlike many prisoners on death row, the baby in the womb is absolutely innocent.
Unrestricted access to abortions up until the third trimester is akin to infanticide. At just six weeks, a developing baby has the beginning of a brain, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, liver and other organs. By the beginning of the third trimester she is hearing, sucking, blinking and kicking.
Should not the editorial board have a consistent ethic of life and extend to the unborn child the right to life that it now extends to the inmates on death row?
Robert and Lori Fontana, Seattle
Selective moral judgment
In its reasons for ending the death penalty, The Times concludes: “The absolute finality of death requires absolute certainty. That cannot be ensured.” Whether the death penalty evenly applied is still “morally wrong” one can doubt, but The Times discredits its strong position when it reduces legitimate societal retribution and plausible deterrence to victim vengeance and vigilante justice.
Regarding life-or-death moral absolutes, Pope John Paul II wrote “If such great care must be taken to respect every life, even that of criminals and unjust aggressors, the commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value when it refers to the innocent person.” He refers, of course, to the reality of the unborn child — and to his or her abortion as by far the largest share of our inequitable culture of death.
The Seattle Times is very selective in its moral judgment by opposing the death sentence and not opposing abortion.
Peter D. Beaulieu, Shoreline