Nothing Justifies A Justification

Albert Denmark
7 min readMay 3, 2022

September 8th, 1985, two boys entered a Circle K convenience store in Oklahoma City. One of them is 17 years old, the other one is 16. They wanted to buy beer, but the clerk at the store denied. Perhaps he shouldn’t have done that. The boys were equipped with an .357 caliber Magnum. The clerk’s body was discovered not so much later.

Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay

About six months later, the youngest one, still 16 years old, walks into his mom’s and stepfather’s bedroom, who are both asleep. He barily wears any clothes, but this time he’s equipped with a .44 caliber Magnum. He shoots his stepfather, which wakes his mother, and then he shoots her. The reason he only wears underwear was to not get blood stains on his clothes. The next day, he is arrested, and the link to the Circle K murder is made very quickly.

On February 4th, 1999, the young killer, at that moment 29 years old, is being executed using a lethal injection in Oklahoma State Prison.

The boy confessed, and stated that he was possessed by a demon, called Ezurate, that he was a Satanist and had read The Satanic Bible several times. He felt Satanism as the most pure way to live, or so he said.

The jury didn’t buy it, and wanted to give him a heavy penalty. At the time of the trial, Oklahoma law didn’t allow life sentences without parole, which would mean that he could be a free man in 15 years, or before. Some jurors said, that that was the reason, Sellers should get the death penalty.

While in prison, the young man converted to Christianity. Because of that, he claimed clemency, as well as he used his alleged Satanism involvement as a reason to not get executed. He also claimed he suffered from dissociative identity disorder. Just before the execution, he appealed that the pardon board was not impartial, and also that another court ruled wrongfully — it didn’t help.

In the minutes before his execution, he sang Christian hymns as his last words. He didn’t show any sign of remorse.

Oklahoma is one of the states that still uses the death penalty. I’d like to be very clear: this is not an appeal against death penalty. If this article could be considered as an appeal, then it is against penalties in its totality. But even that wouldn’t be right.

Still, I’d like to ask a question: how does it help, that this man was sent to death row and died? I mean: it doesn’t bring back his victims. And yet more important: it certainly does not make things right. If it did, then the Circle K’s clerk and the boys (step)parents died for a good cause. But they didn’t. Nothing justifies their deaths. In fact, in stead of three dead people, now we’re having four in the same case.

The boy’s stepsiblings disliked his lack of remorse. They would like to hear he’d mention at least their mom’s name from his mouth before he died. Between the lines, it seems they still would like him dead.

I would be the last to not understand, if someone wishes a sibling did not exist. But what would it help, if a living person should die? I have two brothers (of whom one of them now is my sister), and I don’t want to have them in my life. To one of them, I wrote: “I look forward to the day, I can piss on your grave”. OK, that is possibly a bit childish. But I don’t wish her dead. Because it would not take away what he/she did to me. I even didn’t want to bother with report either of them to the police. Even if I dared to see my history in the eyes ten years before, and obsolescence wasn’t an issue, I wouldn’t report them. Not because that could ruin their lives — I couldn’t care less. But simply, because: it would not help!

My criminal carreer

As a kid, I’ve been stealing candies and cigarettes and toys at local stores. When my parents discovered what I did, they talked to me. I still can see myself sitting on my dad’s lap, crying, with my knees pulled up, my father’s arms around me, with his hands folded, praying out loud to his god, for forgiveness. After that, my parents said, I should stay inside the house in two weeks, except for going to school. But no playing outside. Home imprisonment.

Eventually, life went on. Even though my shoplifting actions were a cooperation with children from my school, I was humiliated by my classmates, as if I was a very bad criminal. Nobody wanted to play with me, and when it was my turn to do the dishes (every student got that duty in a week), my classmates didn’t want to join me: I had to do it myself. Another student, two years younger, joined me instead. I had befriended them since I had no friends left in my own year. And while we were doing the dishes, he told me about a guy, who knew where we could find the jar, the kindergarten used to save the mission money. He joined, too, and so we stole the money.

It wasn’t a very sophistaced crime, and of course, we were caught. And again, I had to face my disappointed parents, and while praying for forgiveness, I was punished: four weeks of home imprisonment. My criminal carreer finally ended there. Not because of the punishment. I didn’t care, I never was a kid who liked to play outside. Only because it came clear to me, that it was too risky a carreer. You might want to hear, that I got a conscience, and decided it was not fair. But no, at the age of twelve, I simply decided I didn’t want to take the risk af stealing anymore: too much to lose, too little to gain.

However, I realised, that if I should do it again, the consequences wouldn’t be severe: a prayer, ask for (and get) forgiveness, a few weeks home imprisonment — and that’s it. But I also realised this: now that I had my punishment, my parents seem to have forgotten what happened. They never talked about it anymore. Sure, my classmates found out that I had stolen DFL. 17.00 (approximately US$ 6,50), and they humiliated me again. I shrugged and went on.

It doesn’t matter that I was just a child, or not. Many adults draw the same conclusion: doing something wrong and pay the price makes the wrongdoing right. And that is totally bullshit.

Something that is wrong, is wrong. No matter how many words you use, it will never be right. No matter what counteraction you do, it will not be right.

And

Something is wrong at the moment the wrong action is being done, not only when the wrong action is being discovered, and surely not only if and when the wrong action got a consequence. Wrong is wrong.

Justifying a justification doesn’t work

And that is why nothing justifies a justification. Because justifications do not work. If something is wrong, then don’t do it. Don’t try to find a lot of arguments, why you should do it anyway. And that applies to Vladimir P., and to Donald T. That also applies to the boys, I started this article with:

They shot the clerk at Circle K. Then they continued like nothing happend in six months. When the youngest shot his mother and stepfather, and got caught, he started to find a lot of reasons why he shouldn’t get punishment for it.

I don’t think, the death penalty would be the right counteraction. First: he killed three people, he can’t die three times as a silly attempt to repay any death. Second: it does not justify anything. If it did, then I am allowed to kill three people, as long as pay with my life. But I am not allowed to kill, simply. Third: This man became allegedly a Christian, which unequivocally means, he’d been praying to his god, to ask (and get) forgiveness. Forgiveness (in the Christian way) means: you did something wrong, to start with it is your responsibility, but someone, called a savior, died, so you could be saved for the ultimate consequences (a verdict by the divine power), so: don’t think about it.

I wrote before, that I don’t want to appeal against the death penalty. Not even against penalties, even though that comes a bit more in the direction of my convictions. In my humble opinion, I think the best we could have done to this man, is something like a forced duty to clean up after dead bodies a looooooong time. I don’t know. But I do know, that that would collide with many people’s sense of justice: that is not fair!

No, it will never be fair. If you’d expect a fair life, then start with yourself, and become ethical. Not legal. Legal is not fair, and will never be. That’s why Miss Justice has a blindfold before her eyes: she wouldn’t be able to stand the unfairness.

Legal means: “I am allowed to do (or don’t)”, while ethical means “I should do it (or not)”. If you measure your actions against an ethical scale, then you don’t need rules. But that, I will write about later.

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Albert Denmark

Father, husband, Computer Geek and author. Living in Denmark, born in Holland. Mail: albertdenmark1@gmail.com