I suppose that you object to the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, out of some sort of pacifist conviction. That's fine as far as it goes, I guess. But I'm curious about how this opposition can stand compared to your loud opposition to the execution of Troy Davis. [he's likely talking about this.] If you oppose all intentional taking of human life, doesn't that mean that there's essentially no difference between your opposition to killing Troy Davis, a likely innocent man put to death, and Al-Awlaki, a terrorist? Or Osama bin Laden? I don't understand how a blanket opposition to killing people gives you room to sort good from bad from worse.There are some provisos and qualifications, but then there's the answer.
For a society of law, the killing of Al-Awlaki should be even more disturbing than the killing of Troy Davis. Davis at least enjoyed some kind of due process, although it was the flawed, biased due process of a hideously racist system and one that is massively bent towards maintaining guilt and punishment. Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was given no trial, no representation, no appeal, no opportunity to defend himself legally at all. None. He was declared a terrorist by the government, again with no due process, and assassinated. That doesn't mean that the moral discrimination about the killing itself is changed, only that the consequences for a supposedly free society are different.
The two men are of course different animals and I judge them, in that way people do, as of different moral character. I have different feelings towards all of the many victims of murder that I'm aware of. I don't suggest that Anwar Al-Awlaki is the same as Troy Davis, nor do I judge Davis in precisely the same way that I judge the victims of any other killing. My stance on the righteousness of killing is not the same as my stance on the righteousness of individuals.
But let me be absolutely clear and unambiguous: on the moral status of the act of killing Troy Davis, or Anwar Al-Alwaki, or the victims of 9/11, or of American soldiers killed by insurgents, or of insurgents killed by American soldiers, or of Osama bin Laden-- I recognize no difference. Not one solitary ounce of difference. The character of someone killed is utterly and permanently irrelevant to the moral status of that killing. It is as wrong to kill Hitler as it was wrong to kill his victims. I have thought for a long time and I have decided that I am forever out of the business of adjudicating the rightness of this killing or that. It has taken time but my conscience has decided on "always wrong."
Please, tell all the keyboard warriors you know, and let them flame on. I really don't give a shit.