In the wake of recent murders of police officers in the state of New York, there is a legislative effort to allow the imposition of the death penalty in such cases.
Whatever one's thoughts are regarding capital punishment, my real problem with this kind of legislation is that it, in effect, says that the value of one's life is dependent to some degree on one's profession. By imposing a harsher penalty for the killing of a police officer than for the killing of others, it says that a construction worker's life, or a taxi driver's, or a bartender's (etc.) is worth less than the life of a police officer.
Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, is willing to co-sponsor Destito's bill.But why is it a "special circumstance"--or perhaps more accurately, why is the murder of someone else not a special circumstance? Are we to think of police as what David Codrea might call the "Only Ones" worthy of "blood for blood" justice?
"I don't support the death penalty, but it's a special circumstance when people are shooting at police officers," said Gordon, adding that his position has been influenced by the murder of Albany Police Lt. John Finn, who was shot and killed in 2003 by a parolee in Albany.
"He knew he was shooting at a cop," Gordon said. "When they're knowingly shooting at police officers, it's just too much."But it's not "too much" to shoot at people who don't work in law enforcement (or at people who do work in law enforcement, but the shooter is unaware of the fact)? Will a cop killer avoid death row if he can convince the jury that he thought his victim was a mere citizen, rather than a police officer?
I find such notions highly repugnant, and utterly contrary to the philosophical foundations on which this nation was built.