I wrote this after reading "Billy Budd Sailor" ( Very hard to listen to on audio and extremely hard to read!) I would just like to state that I do not think killing is wrong but this was not physical self defense and was therefore wrong.
In this world there are consequences for all of our actions. Rewards when we please God, parents, masters, and leaders. Punishments when we violate God's commandments, the laws of the land or the rules in our own households. Billy Budd is a impressively righteous acting man who's faulty actions lead to his death by the just punishment given to him for the murder of another man. The consequence for his actions is dreadful but right nonetheless.
Billy, impressed by Captain Vere to sail under him, was the handsome and flawless image of innocence quite like Adam and Eve before each of their dreadful falls. His good attitude leads him to be befriended by all except the covetous Claggart, who like the sneaky Satan in the allegory mentioned above, seeks to deceive Billy in various ways and ultimately leads to both his and his victims's destruction. Eve did not conceive that the little bite into that delicious apple would lead to such dreadful consequences and in the same way Billy, in his fury, did not conceive the outcome of his retributive actions until it was too late. When Claggart's smooth mouth willingly gave false witness against Billy and Billy's impediment imprisoned his words of defense, he struck out in perilous anger with a deadly strike. As Captain Vere stood in stunned horror at the dead man, he knew he must maintain order in his ship and that such a killing could not be justified.
It is never right give in to evil, but Billy Budd fell into immoral behavior because of Claggart much like Adam and Eve's fall because of the serpent. Billy was cruelly provoked and retaliated with a deadly blow. He should have held his peace with wisdom and not based his actions off those of the foolish Claggart. It is never right and never ends well when we base our actions off those of others rather than the Bible's clearly defined right and wrong. Though retaliation is human nature, it is never justified. Revenge is for God; Not us. Even if all around Billy were acting in evil ways he should not have given in to the human impulse to react without prudent thought.
Murder is always wrong. It is clearly commanded as wrong in the Bible. It is an unacceptable way to vent ones anger and according to the laws the sailors were abiding by it was illegal. Billy knew his actions were wrong and Vere knew the righteous thing to do was convict him of murder.
Billy Budd, like Adam and Eve was innocent and good natured until he was angered by untruthful accusations and his annoying impediment, leading to his destruction. It is never justified to give in to wrong impulses. Murder is wrong. Like Adam and Eve's banishment from the garden because of their choice to eat the forbidden fruit, Billy's death was the true consequence of his choice to retaliate in such a foolish way. Therefore Captain Vere's choice was a correct, lawful and moral consequence for such a deed.