2005/12/02

Death Penalty Opposition - Always The Wrong Damn Reason

The 1000th execution took place last night. Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of the Crips, is scheduled to die on Dec. 13th but might still receive clemency from Governor Schwarzenegger. Support for capital punishment is waning. Blah, blah, blah...

Headlines like these galvanize death penalty opponents, but almost without exception they give the wrong reason for their opposition. Some talk about cruel and unusual punishment. But you know what, life in prison is no picnic. Others point to the tragedy of an innocent person being put to death, though a country willing to have the death penalty damn well better expect that some innocent people will be killed. Still others point to the US's unique position among western democracies, but...no surprises here: Support for the death penalty runs upward of 70% in this country.

There is one reason though, that should unite opponents, as well as supporters, against the death penalty--a reason that cuts across all political, social, economic, and racial boundaries. Bluntly stated it is this: Governments simply cannot be trusted to decide what constitutes a capital crime because that power has been abused throughout history. Today it's murder, but tomorrow it might be public indecency.

Moreover, some criminals just deserve to die. Not out of revenge, or a sense that we need to protect society from predators, but because their crimes are so heinous that death is the only reasonable punishment. But for what crimes? Genocide? Sure. Murder? Yup. Rape? Maybe. Treason? That's a little tougher, I think. How about sodomy? Adultery? Sedition? Graft? There is not a single crime I listed that you cannot be sentenced to death for somewhere in the world, right now!

Death penalty opponents need to stop trying to sway the other side with humanitarian arguments. The only argument that can stick is based on the notion that our government cannot be trusted to decide what crimes are "death-worthy".

4 Comments:

Thank you.

I agree that in a system as corrupt as ours, the government cannot be trusted to be the judge of who deserves to die.
I'm continually frustrated by liberals who insist on making a humanitarian argument w.r.t. the death penalty. Though I sympahtize (hey...I'm an agnostic so death is a pretty scary thing), it just won't fly with the hang-em-high crowd. But giving the Feds the power to decide, that resonates.
This is a legitimate way to look at the argument.

The same thing goes for manditory sentances and the like . . . How do you declare a person reformed? If we are not imprisioning people to be reformed, then why not the death penalty for more crimes? I'm sure some people that are on Death Row are not there after having commited their first crime.
No question, Kvatch.

It's only really in the last 5 years that I've become well-read in U.S. History. Oh sure. Before that I knew the basics. I always aced History class, even Am Hist. But World History and Internat affairs was my fortè.

When the Shrub "won" in '00 though, man! I was shocked that the SCOTUS allowed that shit to go down that way. I didn't even despise the guy yet. I'd seriously considered voting For him up to about the last minute, until I'd learned enough about his so-called "successes" with the TX Education system {shakin'head} and how his ineptitude as a businessman had cost thousands their jobs and made a few hundred "investors" more wealthy than they'd ever have been had those companies succeeded.

And his grimy, gruesome "success" continues in Iraq.

So, good does come from evil, eh. I've learned, and hopefully will be able to help other's learn as well. Is why I seem to get a little too serious for snark sometimes. It's so hard climbin' up a high horse, it kinda takes a while to get down off it and enjoy the plain indignant joy of justifiable rage and sardonic satire.

Thanks for occasionally keepin' me "silly", frog! You are a Sensei of Snark in my eyes, amigo! Not least of which for the thoughtfulness behind it.

L8

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