Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Martin Grossman Execution: Frum Jewish Community's Reaction

Martin Grossman was executed tonight by the state of Florida, the 69th such person since the state of Florida resumed the death penalty in the 1970s. He was executed for murdering a Florida wildlife officer. Given that to have a even semi-fair (i.e. a modicum of effort into avoiding the murder of innocents mistakenly convicted; because that's really what it is if the state executes an innocent person) death penalty system runs up more in court costs than in feeding and housing a murderer for life, on a purely economic basis it makes sense to end the death penalty; that's why New Jersey repealed it. On a moral and Jewish basis, it is also a bad idea to support the death penalty, especially given the way the system usually works.

I wonder if the gedolim in Lakewood came out in favor of the New Jersey repeal, by the way. A group called New Jersey Rabbis for Alternatives to the Death Penalty sent a letter signed by 50 New Jersey rabbis supporting the repeal, probably 60% Reform, 25% Conservative, with a smattering of Reconstructionist and Traditional, and a single RCA member. No Agudath, though (of course, they would be more against the fact that women were being called rabbis on it than the message, I assume).

Incidentally, they don't have that up yet on the Florida death row website; as an aside, Florida's death row website does its best to eliminate the touches of humanity from those the state has executed. At least Texas, despite its 449 executions since 1982, lists offender's last statements

Anyway, from what I understand, Chabad shluchot visited him while in prison and as a result, he became a ba'al teshuva (returnee to traditional Judaism).

His becoming a ba'al teshuva spiked an outpouring of support from the frum (observant) Jewish community. As Dov Bear notes, hypocrisy seems to abound:

Grossman is a Jew, the son of a Jewish mother. As a result, objections to his execution have been raised from some unexpected RW Jewish quarters. YWN, for example, has been running editorial after editorial calling for clemency; Rabbis who use the word shvartze with impunity are calling for tehillim and staging protest rallies; and emails and online poetitions (sic) are being passed around by Jews who, at other times, are firmly pro-death penalty.

Now, mind you, it seems reasonable that opposition to his execution is the Torah-true position. Dov Bear's point is that the right wingers who've generally been firmly pro-death penalty are being hypocritical.

Though they did not, for some reason, even note it during the broadcast, Vos iz Neias reports that, as is customary, he said the Shema as his last words.

For some hilariously crazy comments on the issue, check out the Vos iz Neias thread; in fairness, they run the spectrum (from anti from a more liberal standpoint to pro to pointing out hypocrisy), though, and I wouldn't ascribe the craziest ones to the community at large.

Still, though:

It is also the responsibility of all Yidden and even of Lehavdil Goyim, who see the injustice in this Murder today, to donate money to help the Opponent of the current Governor Charlie Crist.

The Christians, (In Yiddish they are called by the Governors name " the CHRIST'n") have Murdered Yidden throughout all generations and todays murder by Charlie Crist must be avenged.

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