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"Splendid Work!"

According to today's Boston Globe, one police official in South Africareferred to the killing of 11 would-be robbers as "splendid work."Since the shootout in Johannesburg ended in what is being considered a rousing success, people have started emphatically talking about lifting the ban on the death penalty. What's worse? Living in a country where the rate of violent crime can paralyzecitizens with fear? Or living in a country that celebrates the death and murder of those that cause the fear?

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



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Have you listened to any of those right wing talk shows that permeate our land? Charles Bronson movies "Death Wish" in which he stalks and kills criminals were enormous hits. So we might be the last to question the behavior of others. Further there are voices there who are speaking out against such vugilantism, as there are here. And what can we say about the long standing terrible policy of torture of the US government. W. Bush is not the first to do this as it has happened under every American president, though not as blatantly. The American vacation resort, Jamaica, has a truly primitive police department who will kill a suspect at their discretion or whim. The CIA has long been a major player in the torture of South American citizens. Sr. Diane Ortiz wrote a book about this inhuman practice in which the US is an actice participant while the RCC has been a passive one.So it is living is such a "world" which is saddening. More so when a sitting US president flouts the Geneva Convention.

There is nothing sad about this at all. Eleven thugs--at least some of them armed--opened fire in an attempt to commit a violent crime in a nation plagued by violent crime. The police, who under similar circumstances have taken causalties in the past, were this time well-prepared, stopped the crime, killed the criminals, and lost none of their own. This is to be applauded, not criticized. We live in a violent world--it has always been so and always will be so. We can work to make it less violent only by making sure those who would commit violence know that their efforts will be thwarted and quite possibly their lives forfitted. Anything else is dangerously naive. Kudos to the cops!

As a Canadian married to a South African, I can attest to the fact that the violent crime rate in South Africa (my wife if from the relatively calm Cape) influences daily activities, especially for women. My wife is over visiting her family right now and I am thankful that she has a number of male friends who do most of the driving (particularly at night). Her brother has had 3 cars stolen (up in Pretoria) within the last two years, one during a car jacking.Vigilanteeism is the only possible response when the police force is not capable of enforcing the rule of law. The last statistic I saw was that South Africa has a murder rate of 52 people a day (in a country of 45 million) and a rape rate in the hundreds. These violent crime rates are comparable to Iraq, though in Iraq the focus seems to be on mass killings.Call me a real, classic conservative but I don't believe in locking doors. I believe in shooting intruders. I see no reason that I should imprison myself, barricade myself out of fear. The fear should be placed squarely in the person who makes the mistake of crawling through my window at night. Knock at my door and I will feed you, knock down my door and I will fill you with something else.And these "thugs" are not starving. I am a firm supporter and contributer to food and medicinal aid. Most often these acts are committed by those working for crime syndicates and organized crime. If the communist allied ANC weren't spending so much time propping up Mugabe and cozing up to those bastions of human rights, communist China, Burma and Sudan, and instead actually helped the South African economy expand faster than the population then I might be sympathetic. With the ensuing election of Zuma I do not foresee much hope for that corner of the world. Not to mention Mbeki's advocacy of "alternative" treatments and understandings of AIDS.

It is important to make distinctions. Especially if we are a people who preach Jesus Crucified. No one is saying that any nation should not live under laws. This is what makes our country great. More to the point because our laws are, in general, pretty good.It is in the glorifying in vengeance and retaliation that is the point. No one should be exempt from the law. At the same time it is important to say you are with the man who said we are to let our light shine upone the just and unjust, to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. We are free to do what we want but we should not lie about being faithful to the words of Jesus.

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