Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid) wrote,
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator

Blame it on Cain

In chapter eighteen (!) of his interminable series on Judeo-Christian values, Dennis Prager takes on the death penalty, with a piece he gives the no-controversy-here title "Murderers Must Die".

It's a pretty fun article, and seems to be at its peak when he initially sets up possible religious objections to the death penalty (such as those of Catholics, Torah-reading Jews and New Testament-reading Christians) and then completely fails to address them, but in fact, it reaches its sins-of-omission highlight towards the end:

The only capital crime mentioned before there were any Jews or Israel (in Genesis when God creates the world) is murder. Other death penalties applied specifically to the people of Israel when they entered the Land of Israel -- a special code of behavior for a special time in a special place. And virtually none of those were carried out. The primary purpose of declaring a sin worthy of capital punishment was not actually to execute the sinner, but to declare how serious the infraction was when a society was establishing itself as the first based on ethical monotheism. Capital punishment for murder, on the other hand, was obviously intended for all time and for all people -- it is independent of the existence of Jews and declared to be fundamental to the existence of a humane order.

Of course, the "virtually none of (the capital crimes delineated in the Pentateuch) were carried out" line is nonsense; God in the Old Testament kills the people of Israel non-stop from Exodus all the way through to to the prophets, racking up a bodycount in the tens of thousands -- and that's in addition to killing them for things he didn't bother to mention were capital crimes, like asking for more food when they were hungry or complaining about how God kills the people of Israel so much.

But the real whopper here is that capital punishment for murder is obviously an eternal, everlasting, and unchanging essential value of Judeo-Christian civilization, meant to apply "for all time and for all people", independent of Jewish law and applicable to everyone ever from the dawn of time to today in order to form the very basis of human interaction. Which is all well and good until you consider the fact that Christianity's very first murderer -- indeed, according to Christians, the very first murderer in history -- basically got off scot-free. Cain, who killed his brother Abel in a fit of pique, would seem to be a perfect candidate for the death penalty, since he lived under the rule of the Old Testament God who had zero qualms about killing people; he predated the tribe of Israel, as well, so he would have provided God with a great opportunity to demonstrate this whole "intended for all time and for all people" thing. But instead, God simply let him go. He was banished from his homeland, to be sure, and sent east to the land of Nod; but not only didn't God kill him, God marked him with a special mark so that no one else would kill him either. Contrary to popular belief, the mark of Cain wasn't a stigma; it was a protection. The very first time God had a chance to kill someone for murder, he not only didn't do it, but he also went out of his way to ensure that the murderer wouldn't pay for the life he took with his own.

Once again, none of this matters to me: it's all fairy tales. It just amuses me that someone who takes it as seriously as Dennis Prager -- someone, indeed, who makes his living telling the world that these fairy tales can and must form the very spine of all decent civilization -- is either ignorant or deceptive about what he's peddling.
Tags: politics

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