Have You No Decency?

To the Editor:

The Ethan Allen Institute’s John McCaughry opinion piece on the futility of gun control once again demonstrates how far out of the mainstream they are. At first it seemed like a typical pro-gun diatribe against any common-sense gun control legislation that would make the NRA proud. Though I disagree with his view, I recognize that it is common held belief among those who accept the NRA’s relatively new interpretation of the Second Amendment that is designed to promote the sales of guns rather than protect constitutional liberties.

His commentary goes off the rails towards the end with a barbaric suggestion to implement the Berkeley Rule for those who perpetrate mass shootings. Because of my Christian faith, I find his suggestion appalling. It goes against everything that the New Testament tells us about Jesus and his teaching. If Mr. McClaughry is a Christian, he may very well interpret scripture differently than myself, which I accept. So, let’s take a rational look at his barbaric suggestion.

Mr. McClaughry claims it would be a deterrent for future mass shootings. If the death penalty does not deter anybody from carrying out mass murder, why would the sight of a rotting corps on which people are relieving themselves be any different? It most likely will have the exact opposite effect. We have seen in their manifestos that these gunmen have a twisted sense of martyrdom. The thought of having the Berkeley Rule applies to them would only feed into their belief and thus empower them.

The families of mass murderers have committed no crime, yet Mr. McClaughry wants to punish them with public humiliation in addition to suffering with the realization that a loved one is a mass murderer in order to satisfy his grotesque sense of justice. The Eighth Amendment does not restrict its application to living humans as Mr. McClaughry writes. For the sake of argument, let’s apply his interpretation of it to the family of mass murderers. They are living human beings and so the Eighth Amendment would apply to them even by Mr. McClaughry’s interpretation and therefore should not suffer cruel and unusual punishment. Some like Mr. McClaughry may not care about the criminals’ family. As a Christian, though, I am called to care about those family members as well as those of victims.

The implication of removing the laws that make desecration of a corps and relieving oneself in public illegal would have far reaching consequences beyond the implementation of the Berkeley Rule. Do we really want to step over human waste as we walk down the street or worry about the remains of our loved ones being abused?

Ironically, the title of the Editorial Comment on the same page as Mr. McClaughry’s opinion piece, “The Taxing Lack of Decency,” could have served as the title for his column as well.

Steven Isham

St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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