joy for death

A death sentence has been handed down for 4 rapists in India. Yes, it was a brutal rape, which led to the victim’s death. Yes, I understand the revenge impulse. And of course, I understand the need to make a strong statement for women’s rights in India, and against an idea of manhood that involves abusing women.

But, I don’t like watching people expressing joy for death. Capital punishment is one of those ambivalent issues for me, and I certainly won’t judge a decision from another country. But the idea of celebrating death – joy at the idea of killing someone – crosses a line for me. It’s too malicious, and to feel that malicious joy brings us a step closer – too close, in my view – to the evil tendencies in our human nature.

The 4 men were humans with dignity, and they forfeited that in the worst way. They fully deserve a most severe punishment. But I don’t think it discounts the incredible tragedy that happened to that student and her family to say that anytime a human forfeits their dignity, and puts themselves in a position where they deserve (perhaps) to die, it is also a sad situation and not one worthy of joy.

The verdict is justice, and a victory for women in India. But I can’t celebrate the imminent death of anyone, even a horrible person.

Even Bin Laden, a clear enemy. It was a victory for the US when he was killed, and I’m glad our special forces did it. And it was the closest I’ve come to feeling a celebratory mood about killing someone. But I wouldn’t call it joy. I’d call it a mixture of relief, satisfaction and resolve. I knew that while it was a victory to be celebrated, it was far from an ultimate victory against violent extremism. But more to the point, it was a feeling that the fact that violent extremism exists in the first place, for me, prevents me from feeling joy about anything related to it, even a victory like that. As I said before, feeling joy about killing brings us too close to the evil part of our human nature that we’re trying to fight.

If in the future I am so personally affected by a tragedy, perhaps I’ll feel differently…


About developingnathan
I am a reflective person. I am an introvert, a friend, a brother and a son. I appreciate a well-crafted glass of beer, piece of music and turn of phrase. I am a professional of international development, a good pianist and a Green Bay Packers fan.

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