10/27/2019—Today is the commemoration of the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh last year. I have nothing to add to all the beautiful sentiments that have been offered.
But it is hard for me to believe that the government fails to see how destructive it is to be asking for the death penalty in this case.
The death penalty accomplishes nothing, but it is at least understandable when victim family members want it. Then, at least, the sentence provides closure for the victims.
But, in this case, for lots of reasons, the community affected by the shootings have made it very clear that they do not want the death penalty—in fact, are opposed to the government seeking it.
I am not suggesting that their view of the death penalty should control. But their recovery should control. Basically, the members of these congregations just want to move on from the shootings. If it were not for the death penalty, the shooter, whose name I will not use, would probably already have disappeared into the Pennsylvania life-without-parole system. The community would never have to hear about him again.
But, because of the death penalty, everyone will have to not only relive the events, but hear how unfortunate the shooter was in life—or whatever bull the defense will dredge up in the sentencing hearing.
This is destructive for survivors, unless they want it. You would think that the government would understand that and just let it go.
It is not as if these white nationalist shooters are deterred by the death penalty. Whatever deterrent effect the death penalty might have in general, these people are attracted by the idea of death. They would more likely be deterred if nothing special happened to a shooter—there would be no glamour.
This is the curse of politics. If only the government would reconsider.