Readers Write: Death penalty can reduce suffering; Gun laws protect

Letters to the Editor for the June 4, 2012 weekly print magazine: We can't apply a simplistic 'cost-benefit' analysis to the death penalty. Stand Your Ground laws give Americans the freedom to defend ourselves with force, but don't guarantee we will use it.

Death penalty might reduce suffering

Regarding "The Monitor's View" of April 23, "Death penalty's fatal flaw": As a punishment more punitive than preventive, more costly than compassionate, the death penalty harks back to a different time in our nation. Yet we should pause before we assign a simplistic "cost-benefit" analysis to those who still support it: lawmakers, police, and, yes, victims.

For some individuals whose lives have been touched by violence, the death penalty is justice even as it might be vengeance. Empathizing with those individuals who have suffered may, in the long term, reduce further suffering.

Mark Porrovecchio

 Assistant professor of rhetoric

Oregon State University

Corvallis

Stand Your Ground gun laws protect

There are parts of Walter Rodgers's April 30 commentary ("Florida-style gun laws sub impulse for thought") that I agree with, especially the recommendation that you try to talk your way out of a difficult or dangerous situation first. But while his recommendations are a good starting point, they should not be the foundation of state or federal law.

People facing a threat need the freedom to choose how to respond. One hopes they can find a solution that diffuses the situation, as Mr. Rodgers successfully has, but our laws should provide citizens with full legal support to defend themselves.

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is tragic, and I agree that if Mr. Zimmerman had not been in possession of a gun, Trayvon would probably still be alive today. But I cannot extrapolate from that instance that people should not carry guns. Nor can I jump to the conclusion, as Rodgers did, that "those who legally carry concealed weapons would likely have encouraged [Rodgers] to shoot" in the instance where he was accosted in Atlanta.

Most of the people I know who have a license for concealed carry are very levelheaded, often of military background; and they understand the consequences of firing a gun – some firsthand, on the receiving end. They would not be hasty to use one.

Yes, the Florida Stand Your Ground law does specifically entitle us to meet force with force, but it doesn't guarantee that we will. It simply gives us the freedom to defend ourselves should the need arise.

Rebecca Lynch

New Braunfels, Texas

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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