I was asked if I could forgive Dylan Roof. It depends on what you mean by “forgive”. Do you mean not hate him? Absolutely. Not wish him to suffer? Yes, unless that suffering would bring him to peace. But do I want him rejoining society? Not in the slightest. And if any fear about what has happened to him would deter another such action, I’d be satisfied that potential perpetrators feel that fear. But under no circumstances would I believe in his rehabilitation. And if I was Dylan Roof? And I slaughtered innocents in a church and down the road “came to my senses” and realized what I had done, and felt genuine regret? I would not want society to free me.
- I would know that anything you do once, you have the capacity to do again. There is little chance that there is any good I could do in the world that would balance the potential for a relapse.
- I would know that I was a different person, but there is NO way society could be sure. And if they trusted me, they would be more likely to trust the next person who did a monstrous thing and then asked for forgiveness. If my real concern was for the welfare of others, I would not want people to drop their guard. If my concern was more for my freedom than for the safety of children, I’d know I wasn’t as healed as I thought.
Forgive him? Love him? Understand that he represents a wayward soul and hope that he finds peace? Yes. No one is powerful enough to make me hate.
Ever want him walking among us again? No. Could I kill him? In the right circumstance, absolutely. Do I want society to? No, for a variety of reasons that don’t contradict the previous statement in the slightest.