I'm just not that advanced, or evolved or unemotional. I'm a total caveman; I eat meat and live in a ground floor apartment that resembles a cave in both available light and cleanliness. I've had my skull described as concrete, granite or thick. It took me two weeks to realize one of my college roommates had broken up with his girlfriend. I do laundry, but the concept of lights and darks continues to escape me to this day.
In short, I guess I might not be as high-minded as some others here. That might explain my thoughts on the death penalty.
On an intellectual level, I really understand the arguments against the death penalty. The problem is that I can't react solely an intellectual level when presented with certain crimes or people. Tim McVeigh? Sorry, he needed to die. Mass murder, knowing there were children in the building and not caring? Time to go. Osama bin Laden? A close friend of mine lost a family member on the second plane. I'll cheer the day Osama dies, hoping that we as a nation get an opportunity to sing him to the noose. A 2000lb JDAM just won't be slow enough for me. These are emotional responses.
Then there's this guy, which got me started on this morbid topic. William Garner, 37 now, was nineteen years old
on January 26, 1992, Garner took Addie Mack's address and apartment keys from her purse while Mack was being treated at a local hospital emergency room. Then, he went to Mack's home to, in his words, "take her things."
Garner admitted stealing a television, a VCR, a telephone and a radio boom box from the apartment while running into one of the six children, ages 8 to 13, who were sleeping in the apartment that night. Then, on Garner's way out, he set fire to the apartment, even though he knew there were children inside...
The 5 youngest died of smoke inhalation. The oldest, 13 at the time and now 31, attended the execution yesterday in Ohio. I'm sorry, I just can't be intellectual about this sort of thing. Mr. Garner needed to go. His lawyers claimed he had a violent upbringing, limited intellect and developmental delays during his childhood. Ok. Not good enough for me. He deliberately targeted a home that he knew wouldn't have an adult and killed 5 innocent kids in one of the most painful and gruesome ways to die possible because he didn't want to get caught with some stolen electronics. Those kids didn't get a last meal, a meeting with their loved ones and spiritual advisor and a nice peaceful sleep forever on their last night. They. Got. Burned. Frankly, Mr. Garner got off light in my book.
I'm going to link here to Amnesty International, and their 10 reasons to abolish the death penalty. I strongly agree with many of these reasons, especially number 5, "The death penalty is discriminatory in its application" and number 8, "The death penalty denies the fallibility of human institutions" which discusses the large number (255) of innocent people that have been sentenced to death and later exonerated. I applaud the Innocence Project. The reforms they are pushing for are very important and long overdue. Beyond what is mentioned there, I believe public defenders should be fully funded with as much support as they want on capital cases. I believe these sort of reforms would address the discriminatory nature of the death penalty we've seen in the past. Finally, I believe there are too many capital crimes in this country, leading to far too many people on death row.
However, I still can't get beyond this deep belief, that I can't think away, that people like Osama, McVeigh and Mr. Garner need to go. Some acts are just so horrible that I want to know the perpetrators are dead. I don't want Osama to die peacefully in his sleep, either in a cell or cowering in a cave. I don't care about whatever psychological torture McVeigh went through as he contemplated his final meal. And please don't bring religion or "thou shalt not kill" into this. I don't believe in that anyway.
So that's it. I'm a barbarian. If someone kills people in such a horrible way that I feel the need to check on my sleeping child with tears in my eyes after reading the story, then I believe that person needs to die. I'm not comfortable with myself for thinking this. But I still do believe it.
Update [2010-7-14 4:13:56 by The Voice from the Cave]: I've tried to condense my thinking on this subject, which is confused at best. I guess the diary reflects that. This subject really doesn't lend itself to black and white thinking for me, but I guess others are luckier. I've got to get some sleep, so I'll try to check on this tomorrow. I think Mike S had the comment of the night that really encapsulates how I and a lot of others feel: "There isn't any single issue that causes me to argue with myself more than the death penalty."