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« Discernment Session Wrap Up | Main | Yeah, but what if we're wrong? »

May 05, 2011


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Doug Hagler

As someone who unknowingly posted the false MLK quote, it was an interesting experience. Only one sentence of it was wrong - the rest was a direct quote from Where Do We Go From Here, Community or Chaos? It implies that someone just copied and pasted the quote with an intro and didn't maintain the position of the quotation marks.

I went back and found the quote, and posted a fuller version. It is far, far more thoroughly damning of violence, and I prefer it to the false one. The fact that it is MLK gives it an extra sheen of truthfulness, I think, in part because he's a person who lived those words - died for them, in fact. He didn't just talk, he put his body in the pathway of violence and did what he said others should do.

It doesn't hurt, though, the he was also incredibly good at putting words together.

In recent years I have nuanced my anti-death-penalty, nonviolent position, to include what I call the Rabid Dog Clause. It's possible to imagine a person, like a dog with rabies, who this side of eternity will never stop seeking to harm other people. We aren't smart enough to figure out how to redeem them, or their brain is damaged, or whatever. We have every reason to think that they will keep trying to hurt other people no matter what we do (with the important caveat that we tried very hard to redeem them somehow and didn't just abandon them).

Given that situation, I can understand the argument to kill that person.

The problem is that, of all the people we kill, that kind of person repesents maybe 0.0000001% of the total, and in the vast majority of cases, no attempt is made to redeem the person before they are killed.

It's a small nuance, granted, but there it is.

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