Salvation Now [fiction]

—I have a solution for crime.
—What is it?
—Yes, we must crucify criminals.
—Crucify them?
—Yes, there is no other way, really. All else is diversion and lies when it comes to what to do with them. There is nothing humane about punishment, and punishment cannot be ignored, cannot be avoided. You must always do what is right, but what is right cannot be weak and insipid. There is Justice, but it often lies beyond our understanding.
—We must crucify them then?
—We absolutely have to. You think not, you think otherwise, I know, but that would be a mistake. Crime deserves its punishment, and to not punish a crime is another one, against Nature, and this Nature will cry out.
—You think so?
—I know so.
—So you think we must hang placards from their necks in public.
—Yes, in Public—before everyone there is to see. Line Broadway from the Battery to Fort Tryon Park, and you will see a change.
—Line Broadway from one end of the island to the other?
—It’s only way.
—I don’t know if I can get there, accepting this.
—There are many people who feel as you do. But we have to see the writhing broken bodies if public morality is ever to be instructed, and instructed it must be. Good is not of nature—in fact, there is no good or bad in nature. But the last thing a civilization needs to be is natural—that’s our mistake. It is red in tooth and claw; our humanity has little to do with our nature as a species of animal, Homo sapiens. You don’t think the Romans were barbarians, do you? They were not—in fact, there were no citizens of any country anywhere in the world for two thousand years who were as protected by law and who lived as free as Roman Citizens, even under their Imperium. Crucifixion was an instrumental tool in Roman civilization, and do not think that it was not.
—But do you think that you can instruct public morality?
—Instruct it this way, of course, I do. There is no other way to impart morality except by instruction—don’t think that chimps have any morality, don’t think that any animal in any jungle or forest has any. The theater of the cross is an effective tool, an effective method, as theatre has always been. I mean Crassus had Spartacus and his army of seven thousand slaves crucified from Brindisium to Rome—and don’t think that that did not help, it did. He saved Rome, didn’t he? No other rebellion for five hundred years until the fall of the empire in the west. Darius of Persia understood. Charlemagne did too. Vladimir of Hungary also. Darius glorified Persia as Charlemagne and Vladimir saved Christendom from pagans and infidels. Do we need more?
—I don’t think there could be more.
—I know what you’re thinking.
—You do?
—Yes, but do unto others as you would have them do unto you is exactly the point, just before they ever get the chance to do to you, that’s all, always.