QUOTE: If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.
AUTHOR: Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (November 24, 1808 – September 29, 1890) was a French critic, journalist, and novelist. His brother Eugène was a talented engineer and his aunt Carme Karr was a writer, journalist and suffragist in La Roche-Mabile.
APPLICATION: My guess is the A. Karr is pro-death penalty, and also that he's not friends with murderers; allow me to illustrate.
1) If one wishes the death penalty eliminated those who make the penalty necessary need to stop doing things that make it necessary i.e. if there were no murders we wouldn't need to kill those who murder. Another way of saying that is: If you want to stop our response to the offense, kindly stop offending.
2) the incongruity is in the speaker implying courtesy, where there is none or where none would normally be offered. For example: I will stop trying to get you killed, if you'd kindly not kill in the first place.
3) What is expected is that the speaker will say how (he or we) will abolish the death penalty. The contrast to that expectation is that the speaker actually says for "his friends", tongue in cheek (which means, that is not to be taken seriously, he is not really friends of those he is referring to) need to stop the death penalty themselves by not murdering in the first place.