Americans recoil at the thought of human sacrifice, ritual killing to appease an angry or powerful god. It seems so primitive, so barbaric. And yet we have the death penalty here, now, in these “civilized” times, justifying one murder with another. I believe such executions reflect the Old Testament dictum of an eye for an eye, a punitive god’s version of justice. It’s not so different than the beliefs of those earlier cultures. Admittedly those executed under the death penalty are supposed to be guilty, but often that’s not true as recent DNA tests have shown. What really has been gained by killing Troy Davis, Stanley “Tookie” Williams and so many others? Enlightened nations have discontinued the awful practice of executions. Perhaps if Americans thought about the death penalty as institutionalized ritual sacrifice we might finally consign it to the scrap heap of history where it belongs.