The Death Penalty

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk




    In 1656 the great philosopher Baruch Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community of Amsterdam because the Christian majority forced the Jews to rid themselves of a man who had denied the authenticity of the Bible, questioned the existence of divinity, denied prophecy and declared that everyone has a right to believe anything he likes.

    In Hebrew, excommunication is called a Cherem and refers to the ostracism directed against members of the Jewish community who disagreed with official orthodoxy or who insulted a rabbi or who violated any of the numerous rituals which punctuated Jewish life throughout the centuries of our Exile from Eretz Yisrael.

    Today, excommunication is no longer feasible in the Jewish community because orthodoxy is not the only option a Jew may pursue and because the Jews of Israel, the United States and Europe live a secular life which permits disregard of religious strictures as a matter of course.

   In the non-Jewish community, excommunication was practiced for centuries. This means of enforcing conformity to various doctrines and hierarchies led to almost total control of the European population by the dominant eccelesia from the Council of Nicea (325)  to the Reformation (1517).  Excommunication was also used against so called “heretics”, i.e. people whose religious views were considered unorthodox and particularly at “marranos” or swine, a name used by Christians to designate Jews who had converted to Christianity and who were suspected of “backsliding”.

    There are some religious groups, including the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons, who still excommunicate members whose views are directly opposed to the teachings of that denomination. Such excommunication was used against a Mormon woman who advocated the principles of the National Organization for Women, a group founded by the Jewish Betty Friedan.

    Excommunication is almost impossible to enforce in the United States because we give no credence to such religious maneuvers. However, excommunication may still be of some use regarding those who hold human life in contempt and are employed as paid killers while enjoying legal immunity from the consequences of their barbarity.

    These paid killers work for state and federal prisons where they slaughter helpless prisoners in gas chambers, injection chambers, electric chairs and other means of mass murder. The argument that the victims of these latter-day Nazis are guilty of murder themselves is spurious nonsense. One murder does not excuse yet another murder, nor is it ethical or even remotely excusable to hire out as a state appointed murderer. Not only that. The truth is that innumerable, utterly innocent people have been slaughtered like cattle in the “death houses” of the United States for years. The  evidence for this is that since 1976, 82 people have been released from death houses because DNA proved them innocent. How many more were slaughtered will never be known.  During the years 1900 –1992, 416 innocent people have been convicted and sent to “death row”. Illinois recently released 13 of 26 men on death row because their innocence was proved by DNA. There can be no doubt about it. Those who favor the “death penalty” are willing to kill innocent people and may be among the next victims themselves. Therefore, those who take money to kill other human beings ought to be excommunicated. We should not speak to such people. We should not sell them anything or permit them in any store, place of entertainment or religious institution. We should sever all contact with those who prosecute others to their death and those who carry out such brutality. The death “penalty” promoters are the Nazis of America. Can any decent person support that ideology even now? No doubt, those who kill in the death houses of Terre Haute or Huntsville today will never get enough killing to satisfy themselves. Surely they are waiting to operate the murder camps of tomorrow if they get their chance. Every time an “execution” takes place in this country we move one step closer to becoming a Nazi police state. Let us speak up before it is too late and end the state sponsored murders at the next election.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of Stigma:  How We Treat Outsiders (Prometheus Books, 2001) and over 60 other publications.


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