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Letters

Messages Behind Executing a Killer and Trying to Save Him

April 10, 2001

In City of Angles (April 1) [about actor Mike Farrell and convicted killer Robert Lee Massie], Cardinal Mahony was quoted as having said, "You can't teach that killing is wrong by killing." Yet Mahony and his supporters have mistaken the lesson of capital punishment.

Execution is not intended to teach the condemned person that killing is wrong; indeed, their possession of that knowledge is a necessary prerequisite for their being sentenced to death. Rather, capital punishment acknowledges the moral dignity that society affords to all people, including murderers.

There are beings who are guided solely by environmental and hereditary factors and whose actions are deemed free of moral intent. We call those beings animals. To separate a rational human's actions from the moral intent of those actions is to reduce that human to the level of an animal. No human being deserves such condescension.

Capital punishment, though a grievous burden, nevertheless affirms the moral and intellectual nature of the condemned person.

LELAND EDWARD STONE

Buena Park

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I just read the heartwarming story about how Mike Farrell tried to save convicted killer Robert Massie's life. Funny, I don't remember the heartwarming story of Farrell comforting the family members of those whom Massie murdered.

ROCK JOHNSON

Palm Springs

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