Most of us recall the apocryphal story of the Texan accused of murder who, when asked by the judge if he had anything to say in his defense, replied, “Well, your Honor, I guess he just needed killin’…” Most civilized people would agree that his observation would hold also true for the recently deceased Osama Bin Laden. If ever there were a man who “needed killin'” it would be the mastermind of 9/11. Even those with somewhat pacifist leanings are rejoicing over the death of this terrorist and mass murderer.
But perhaps this will become a “teachable moment” for us all, if enough Americans finally confront the unavoidable truth that there are indeed people in the world who will never be deterred from committing acts of unspeakable violence against their fellow human beings. And I’m not just talking about terrorists. Think of the pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent every day by rapists, child molesters, thrill killers, vicious street gangs, and others.
Names like Ted Bundy, or John Wayne Gacy, come to mind. Even more recently, remember the gang of thugs (four men and one woman) in Kansas City who kidnapped a young couple, and after two days of repeated rape and torture, killed them by dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire while they were still alive. For animals like these, life in prison doesn’t even begin to settle the cosmic accounts, and even a needle in the arm is simply not sufficient punishment for an act so incomprehensibly evil.
Because death by lethal injection is nowhere near “cruel and unusual” punishment – I would argue that in a case like this one, it isn’t even cruel enough. In a truly just world, such monsters would at least suffer something close to what they inflicted on their victims.
But regardless of the method we use to rid ourselves of the enemies of civilized society, it is long past the time that we all recognize the obvious – that, yes indeed, as the old Texan observed, there will always be some folks who “just need killin’…”