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RareDenver's avatar

Could you forgive your executioners?

Asked by RareDenver (13141points) December 16th, 2012

If you were unlucky enough to live in a country that still enforced the death penalty could you go to your death forgiving those that participated in it?

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36 Answers

glacial's avatar

No, I don’t believe that forgiveness is always deserved or necessary.

Coloma's avatar

I’d like to think so, understanding that they are merely “victims“of their own unenlightened culture. Myself yes, I’d be dead, nothing to forgive, but if it was my child or loved one, doubtful I could really muster that kind of forgiveness. Maybe after awhile.

Sunny2's avatar

What did I do to deserve the death penalty? If I was guilty, I would be able to forgive them before I could forgive myself. If I was not guilty, no. I could not forgive them. Why should I?

AstroChuck's avatar

I suppose it would depend on the situation. Unfortunately California is a state which has not banned the barbaric practice of capital punishment, although rarely carried out.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t know about everywhere else, but where I am you can only get the death penalty for two crimes:

- Murder with some aggravating factor (kidnap, torture, prior murder conviction, rape, etc)
– Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor 1st degree 2nd offense

If I was guilty of either if those things, who cares if I forgive my executioners? I’m willing to bet my victim and/or their family won’t forgive me anytime soon.

But regardless, I’d be dead. Can’t really forgive someone if I’m not alive to do so.

** This is not an argument about capital punishment. I think they should all sit in there and rot, not be executed, but the law is the law. You do the crime, you do the time.

filmfann's avatar

I believe I can and will. I think it will be important for me to forgive everyone before I meet my judge.

BBawlight's avatar

If I was to be given the death penalty, I think I would forgive my executioners. I don’t think it’s their fault they got sent to kill me, and I would have to imagine how the psychological effect of killing another person would effect them. Even if they were psychos I could forgive them. They can’t help their psychology.

burntbonez's avatar

I think forgiving my executioners would be pretty low on my list of things to think about as I had a few seconds left to live.

And you know what? I’m sure they don’t care either, whether I forgive them or not.

bolwerk's avatar

People who execute other people should be held directly and personally responsible for their actions. I’m not so sure I can say I think execution is never permissible – certainly, it is most justifiable against abusive agents of the state, who incidentally are best shielded from the consequences of their actions – but acting as a paid killer for the government is a pretty reprehensible occupation. If execution is permissible, someone should still be responsible.

So, no, I wouldn’t forgive them. They would be flagrantly, knowingly, and cold-heartedly committing an act of violence against someone who never did them any harm.

josie's avatar

No. The immorality of capital punishment aside, it would not exist if nobody would act as executioner.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

What fucking difference would it make? I am sure to be off doing other, more interesting things—or not—while he/she is still back here dealing with his/her own private hell.

wundayatta's avatar

I honestly don’t understand why anyone would be concerned with this. It’s a non-issue, unless you have some belief system that might make this issue relevant. Why is this even a question in your mind?

majorrich's avatar

The executioner is just doing his job. I just happen to be the flavor of the day. It’s pretty much a non-issue for me

bolwerk's avatar

Death camp guards try to raise that argument too.

Nullo's avatar

I think so. Hard to be sure until it’s my head on the chopping block, but objectively the guy’s just an agent of the state. Not sure I could forgive the state, though.

Berserker's avatar

The executioner I might forgive. Sad and sick to say, but he’s doing his job I guess, ugh… who I wouldn’t forgive are those who decided I should be put to death, which usually aren’t the executioners. (people should be so fucking brave) If entirely possible at all, I’d haunt them after and make them kill themselves. Then they’d be my bitches in Hell for eternity.
Unless I killed a child or something disgusting like this. Which I’d never do to begin with, so in this scenario, I’m thinking that I’d be put to death for something lame like wearing pants or being attracted to women.

Shippy's avatar

Nah! I’d have my hands full.

Response moderated (Spam)
Seek's avatar

No. The executioner has chosen their profession. There would be no executions without those who choose to carry them out.

RareDenver's avatar

@wundayatta I started thinking about it after watching an episode of The Tudors where Sir Thomas More was executed and his executioner had doubts. Sir Thomas Moore helped the guy calm down so he could do his job. Now I know that they played loose with a few of the facts in this series for the sake of good drama but he did go to his death forgiving King Henry VIII who sent him there.

ucme's avatar

It wouldn’t make a difference to me, unless the geezer attempting to lob my head off caught a glancing blow betwixed my shoulder blades, “Oi, referee, are you fucking blind or something?”

Berserker's avatar

@ucme Aaah, decapitation. Lol. I wonder how many times executioners fucked up back then…like, hitting the poor sucker right on the back of the head instead of the neck, or in the shoulders like you say. My main guess is that executioners probably had some training to properly lop off heads. Knowing how to aim properly, and if you’re using an axe, learning to exploit the weapon’s own weight as it falls to ensure a one time, clean cut. Man if someone cuts my head off some day, I sure hope they know what they’re doing.

ucme's avatar

@Symbeline I’m sure I saw something once on the discovery channel about a botched beheading way back in time, might have been Oliver Cromwell or maybe some random village witch XD
It took several blows, most of them missing the neck, until eventually the executioner had to hack it off with a butcher’s knife!!!!
Fucking hard core justice history had, glad I wasn’t around then :¬(

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Absolutely not. Anyone complicit in the barbaric practice of capital punishment is as bad as the depraved persons who handed down the punishment. They should at the very least be conscientious objectors, so they are not themselves guilty of taking life without justification.

Berserker's avatar

@ucme Worse is, beheading were often public. Imagine bringing your wife and little ones on a picnic in the town square to see some heathen getting their head sawed off. Living back then must have sucked lol.

flutherother's avatar

This is how Mary Queen of Scots met her end in 1587.

The executioners (one named Bull and his assistant) knelt before her and asked forgiveness. She replied, “I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles.” Her servants, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle, and the executioners helped Mary to remove her outer garments, revealing a velvet petticoat, satin bodice and a pair of sleeves all in dark red, the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. As she disrobed she smiled and said that she “never had such grooms before… nor ever put off her clothes before such a company”

She was blindfolded by Kennedy with a white veil embroidered in gold, and knelt down on the cushion in front of the block. She positioned her head on the block and stretched out her arms. Her last words were, “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum” (“Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”).

Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe.

Berserker's avatar

@flutherother Man, they go to all this trouble to remove her clothes, put on a fancy blindfold and let her say all these words and the dude fucks up the decapitation? nice one bro

ucme's avatar

@Symbeline I can’t understand how random folks turned up to watch like some kind of sick sport, i’d have spewed my guts up at such a gross spectacle.
Not much in the way of entertainment back then I guess.

Berserker's avatar

@ucme Yeah, I wonder that myself. The best I can answer to that is, it’s probably a whole product of their time and society thing. That kind of stuff went on for centuries, and that’s no exaggeration. The modern world as we know it packs in about 300 years, if not less. I mean the Spanish Inquisition was ’‘shut down’’ somewhere in the 1800’s, and the last use of the guillotine was like in the fucking sixties. That says a lot…I suppose people were used to this kind of thing, at least until they got on the receiving end lol.

Good thing somebody created the television lol.

ucme's avatar

@Symbeline Yeah I was going to say, cinema & television tries to create horror with even more technological advances, 3D/better make-up/special effects…....those who had front row seats at beheadings & burnings at the stake witnessed the real deal.

RareDenver's avatar

Life was cheap and people were used to death everywhere.

ucme's avatar

Yeah but you just described modern day scotland &.......

RareDenver's avatar

@ucme oi I’m half Scottish you know, and half Scouse, and a Yorkshireman at heart. No hope for me ;-)

ucme's avatar

@RareDenver So that makes you a tight, thieving…nowt wrang wi yorkshiremen, i’m a Leeds fan after all.

RareDenver's avatar

@ucme we used to say our mother was too tight to give us pocket money and on the occasion she did our dad nicked it!

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