Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On Capital Punishment

As a truly independent thinker, I tend to come down on the side of liberalism more often than on the side of conservatism because the conservative side often seems rigid and uncompromising whereas the liberal side seems more flexible and tolerant.  For example, abortion: conservatives say no abortion from the moment of conception, not three months into a pregnancy, not a week, not a day, not ten minutes, but the exact moment of conception.  I recognize that if a soul is born in that instant then it must be protected from that instant.  Nevertheless, …   Another example, capital punishment.  Conservatives approve it while liberals do not (for the most part).  There is something pretty absolute and final about a death sentence.  I recognize that they believe in an-eye-for-an-eye justice but once again, it is pretty intolerant.

I have not before written about capital punishment because it does not relate very closely to fighting for a true democracy, the core of my writing.  But to be honest, I have allowed myself some latitude in what I have written about, even writing about Katy Perry and Barry Bonds.  So, …

Those who argue in favor of the abolition of capital punishment most often argue that it is not humane, or civilized, and that it stoops to the level of the doer of the deed (a traitor, a murderer or a rapist).  But that does not ever convince the other side.  I want to address those of you who DO favor the institution of capital punishment for those mentioned capital crimes.
  • Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald on national TV on November 24, 1963.  How many times since then has a murder or a rape been so public that no one need doubt whodunit?  Most murders and rapes are not committed in broad daylight and caught on live video.  But that doesn't seem to deter jurors who are quite certain the defendant did it, based on hearsay evidence and the evil look on the defendant's face.
  • Society will never learn what motivates such a person to do such an awful thing if it destroys him.  What it might learn could alter the future for the better.
  • If you argue “why should society have to pay for the upkeep (room & board, etc.) of a capital criminal?” I would ask you “why should society have to pay for the upkeep of lesser criminals?  Should we execute them too?”
  • The jury may have been wrong!  Killing the supposed perp may kill an innocent man.   “In the U.S., as of September 2011, 273 people including 17 death rowinmates, have been exonerated by use of DNA tests.”  “As of October 2015, we have executed over 1,414 individuals in this country since 1976.  156 individuals have been exonerated from death row--that is, found to be innocent and released - since 1973.  In other words, for every 10 people who have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S., one person has been set free.”  Are you OK knowing that 1% or 4% or 10% of guilty verdicts are mistakes, which an innocent man pays for with his life?
  • Finally, do you think that a rich or middle-class man, who is found guilty of a capital crime, has the same chance to be executed as a poor man?
That’s it, that’s my argument against capital punishment, not that it is wrong but that it makes fatal mistakes and that it is unfairly applied.

If you still think we should execute some people in the name of justice, I’d be interested hearing your reasoning.