A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 22, 2015
“Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” is an anti-death penalty statement that has been printed on many posters, buttons and bumper stickers. The authorship of the line is uncertain.

An unknown student at Van Nuys (CA) Junior High was credited in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on March 10, 1969:

“Why do we kill people who kill people to show people killing people is wrong?”

Stanley W. Clark, of Downey, California, wrote in Life magazine on July 11, 1969:

“Why do we kill people who kill people to show people it is wrong to kill people?”

“Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong?” was credited in 1970 to The Chicago Voice.

[This entry was assisted by the Quote Investigator.]


10 March 1969, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “The Undying Question of the Death Penalty” by Art Seidenbaum, pg. C11, col. 1:
The question was written for a PTA meeting at Van Nuys Junior High—by a student, I think:

“Why do we kill people
who kill people
to show people
killing people is wrong?”

The meeting was about news and what news does to readers and watchers. Four men from the-media sat on the platform and agreed that capital punishment doesn’t deter criminals as much as it retards development of a truly human society.

Google Books
11 July 1969, Life magazine, “Letters to the editors,” pg. 16A, col. 4:
Sirs:
Why do we kill people who kill people to show people it is wrong to kill people?
STANLEY W. CLARK
Downey, Calif.

Google Books
A.D.
Volume 1
Ave Maria Press
1970
Pg. 30:
Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong? —The Chicago Voice

10 December 1976, Lexington (KY) Herald, “Death Penalty: Condemned Opposes Capital Punishment” by Herbert Sparrow (UPI), pg. C-5, col. 2:
Miss Shackleton and some 10 other members of her group attended the meeting wearing black armbands and a pin asking “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”

Google Books
Political Affairs
1977
Pg. 20:
Among these are the “moral” argument, articulated most forcefully in religious circles, placed simply by the Fellowship of Reconciliation on its lapel button: “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong?”; the argument that death is an irreversible penalty,allowing for no margin of error in human judgement, and leading to execution of the innocent as well as the guilty; and the fact that no evidence exists to demonstrate a deterrent effect of the death penalty, thereby making it cruel and unusual punishment.

Google News Archive
19 June 1978, Village Voice (New York, NY), “Letters,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Why do we kill people who kill people, someone has asked, to teach that killing is wrong?
(...)
Henry Schwarzschild, Driector
Capital Punishment Project
American Civil Liberties Union
New York City

Google Books
America Without Violence:
Why Violence Persists and How You Can Stop It

By Michael N. Nagler
Covelo, CA: Island Press
1982
Pg. 9:
If we want compelling simplicity, the slogan of those who protest the death penalty has much to recommend it: “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”

Google News Archive
14 May 1984, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Letters to the editor,” pg. 6, col. 6:
Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong? It is not logical thinking, Mr. President.
DARLENE K. BENNING
Natrona Heights

Google News Archive
21 October 1986, Bangor (ME) Daily News, “Our readers write,” pg. 11, col. 1:
Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong? For vengeance, not for justice.
(...)
Karen Gidman
Ripley

Twitter
Dr. Raphael Rigs ॐ
‏@LodroDawa
Why do we kill people who kill people to show killing people us wrong?
11:30 AM - 8 Jan 2008

Twitter
TED
‏@Teddy93Happy
Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong? #deathpenalty
1:48 AM - 22 Apr 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, April 22, 2015 • Permalink