Killing Mercy

Jason Cherniak ponders the fate of Robert Latimer here. I must confess that I haven’t been able to find a position on this matter that is satisfactory but the positions available all seem, for lack of a better word, incomplete. None of us know what went through Mr. Latimer’s mind as he put his daughter in his truck. By most accounts he appears to have been loving and conscientious father, but that does not preclude something in his mind just snapping that day. I say that not to sit in judgment of Mr. Latimer’s capacity as a parent, it must strain the limits of a parent to live through the relentless daily trial of a severely disabled child. So, I don’t know what he was thinking, and as Cherniak rightly points out, that is one of the principle difficulties in assessing this case.

Was this a man at his wits’ end? Was this a (deluded?) act of love? I know that for many Christians the default position on these issues is to keep everyone alive for as long as possible no matter what, and if you think that way, then hands down, Robert Latimer is a murderer, full stop. I cannot feel satisfied with this position though, and I’m not sure if it’s just some kind of unease with the aesthetics of punishing a man that may well have been truly convinced that this was what was best for his daughter the same way that one might punish a gangland thug or a sex predator. What do we do with Robert Latimer? What factors would you consider and why?