Sunday, July 27, 2014


Sunday Reflection: On the death of Dan Markel

Last weekend, Florida State criminal law professor Dan Markel answered the door of his home in Tallahassee and was shot to death.  He was 41 years old and the father of two young boys, well-liked at his school and his synagogue.

I had met Dan, but didn't know him, really.  I certainly knew his work, which was compelling and well-considered.  He mostly wrote about retribution theory, and much of what I know about that topic is from his articles.

Though I didn't know Dan the way others did (even at St. Thomas, where he had many friends on the faculty), his death has been at the top of my mind all week.   Yes, yes, I know-- people get shot every day, and a disproportionate amount of media time is spent when a relatively affluent white guy is the victim.  Still, there is something about this case, this life and death, that is especially grueling to me.

Whoever shot Dan Markel (or hired someone to do so) must have been full of terrible emotions-- hate, vengeance, anger.  More than anything, tragedies like this pull me towards those who are gentle of spirit.  That is, at its best, what faith and communities of faith provide.  Faith cannot provide an answer for the question "why?" when something so brutal has happened.  It can, though, offer the too-often-unrealized hope of a time and place where this kind of hate, vengeance, and anger are absent.

I'm so sorry, Mark.
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