Michele over at A Small Victory helpfully provides a pointer to this story describing the final sentencing of David Westerfield, the killer of seven-year-old Danielle van Dam. Michele provides all kinds of appropriate vitriol for such a sack of human waste as Westerfield, but in reading the article, I was struck by this bit:


Brenda van Dam called the convicted killer of her 7-year-old daughter Danielle van Dam, a “monster” just before David Westerfield was sentenced to death.


The use of the word “monster” reminded me of the times that I have read admonitions in the mainstream (“enlightened” and “right-thinking”) press that the usage of such words is a simplistic moral crutch, a part of a binary code of good-evil ethics that hampers our logical reasoning and ability to discern complexity… blah blah blah . You get the idea.

Needless to say, I’m not exactly a hard and fast believer of that camp. My personal belief about the death penalty is as follows: there are acts of such immorality and horror whose barbarity is sufficient for your membership card to the human race to be revoked. There is, of course, a vast shade of grey about whether certain actions, under certain circumstnaces fall within that designation.

Westerfield, however, doesn’t even come close to that grey area, and making the decision to classify him as a monster, and thus as being outside of the realm of humanity, is actually a more complex mental decision than to frame his actions in the context of some infinite spectrum of human deeds, where raping and killing a child is somehow just a far outlier on the same gradient of moral action as stealing a loaf of bread, or working at a soup kitchen, for that matter.

Words like “evil” and monster are derided as being crutches for those too stupid or lazy to notice complexity . But how much complexity is there in a moral system that can’t distinguish as fundamentally of a different nature actions that should make a civilized person vomit? To say that there is good and evil is not to say that there are only two exclusive camps and you are one or the other, period. Certainly morality exists in gradations of right and wrong, but the point is there IS a right and a wrong, and it’s not hard to see that Westerfield’s degree of “wrong” so far overshoots every other minor classification to the point that he lands firmly in “monster” territory.

In other words, the review board has examined your actions, and has decided to suspend your status as a member of the human species.

The things he’s done puts him beyond the pale of humanity. And yes, of course, in legalistic terms, we must still treat him with that sacred cow of due process, but not, as some might think, in order to protect him and his rights. Fuck him . He doesn’t have any rights. It’s to protect us and the rest of the innocent.

There are some who have got the silly headed notion that those guilty of such crimes deserve the law’s protection. Get this straight: they don’t. They don’t deserve protection, they don’t deserve quarry, they don’t deserve to breathe the same air we do. We deserve all those things, and an unfortunate consequence of us being fallible beings is that we have to extend most of those protections under most circumstances to inhuman excrement like David Westerfield so that one of us does not mistakenly suffer the fate that is so deserving of him, like, say, being drawn and quartered .

All of that is what is legally proper. But what is legally right and morally right don’t always coincide. It is a sad necessity of the fact that the law, a creation of humans, is an imperfect thing. It doesn’t mean I don’t think there could be useful changes made to the process of the death penalty, but fine, I’ll let him have his several years (perhaps decades) in prison while he waits out his death sentence. I’ll even stomach the fact that he’ll get three squares a day and books and movies to bide his time and make his stay in prison more “humane.” But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, in a more perfect world (I say “more perfect” because a perfect world would never have a David Westerfield) delight in seeing him undergo exactly the kind of torture he inflicted upon his victim, right before the parents of Danielle van Dam were allowed to put a bullet through his skull.

last update : 26-5-2018

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