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Applauding When the Bad Guy Gets It

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In spite of 235 years of history, it appears that Americans continue to struggle with the concept of forced deaths that are carried out by government.

This contention recently arose as one reverberation from a Republican Presidential Debate.  Moderator Brian Williams presented a setup statement to Governor Rick Perry with, “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times.”  Before Williams could deliver the question, the conservative audience erupted in spontaneous applause.  Leftist commentators called the reaction “ghastly” and “ghoulish.”


Three weeks later, President Obama also received unashamed applause to his announcement that, “Earlier this morning, Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen.”  Leftist commentators are ignoring the applause this time and are going right for the question of constitutionality.

The liberal mindset is a fascinating thing to watch.  The synapse sequence seems to go something like: (1) Defend evil with compassionate piety. (2) Contort the Constitution until it submits to the defense of evil. (3) Excuse all distasteful and contradictory behavior by liberal leadership.

James Madison made it difficult for liberals to play enfant terrible by introducing the Bill of Rights to Congress in 1789.  In their inimitable manner, the Founding Fathers codified America’s policy on death in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution: “No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Conservatives sympathize with the victims in seeking justice against the aggressor.  The law gives them the guidance to ensure that the right amount of punishment is meted out to those who deserve it.  And they applaud when the bad guy gets it.


Liberals, on the other hand, sympathize with the aggressor, dismissing the effect on the sufferer.  The collective gasp from liberals to cheering of capital punishment is immediately explained by the few cases where death row inmates were exonerated by new legal arguments that cast doubt on their convictions.  There is rarely a mention of the child who was raped and strangled or the immigrant store clerk who was mercilessly shot in the face for drug money.

If the liberal motivation was to prevent innocent people from receiving an undeserved punishment, we would know it.  We would know because there would be consistency in their position with both death row people and unborn people.  “Due process of law” is called for by both liberals and conservatives for people accused of murder and even for suspected terrorists.  But the liberal world view never calls for justice against the cruel butcher or due process for American children who are just weeks from being born.

United States Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul gave voice to the liberal concern for knocking off the New Mexico native terrorist with, "Al-Awlaki was born here.  He is an American citizen.  He was never tried or charged for any crimes.  No one knows if he killed anybody.  We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber.  But if the American people accept this blindly and casually then we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys. I think it's sad."


United States intelligence agencies are appropriately methodical in dealing with enemies of the United States.  Arrests are made when possible and pre-emptive force is taken when necessary.

To put Congressman Paul’s mind at ease, I would direct his attention to federal law, INA § 349, 8 USC § 1481, which sates, “A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts ... attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States ... or ... by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them ...”

I frankly did not appreciate Governor Perry’s cavalier response to Brian Williams' somber question.  But it seems to me that 234 convicted inmates, whose guilt of murder was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, are deserving of execution to the sound of a Texas cheer.  And a self-expatriated terrorist braggart deserves to hear applause from Earth while he faces the judgment seat of God.  But the ghastly and ghoulish demise of four-thousand unborn Americans every day does call for a collective gasp to the twisted logic of the Roe v. Wade decision; a ruling about which Judge Robert Bork wrote, “Unfortunately, in the entire opinion, there is not one line of explanation, not one sentence that qualifies as legal argument.”


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