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I am but a shadow in a realm of chaos...a floating phantom barely seen by the general populace. I am torn, for I wish solitude and secrecy within my own personal life, yet also desire to be seen and have my ideas heard throughout the world in the hopes that they may inspire betterment in some fashion. I have never quite understood what is so difficult about maintaining goodness as a common social norm. Why are human beings so uniquely drawn toward corrupt and destructive behavior? Is it perhaps our complexity that causes our confusion about morality? Perhaps simply being human is too much for some souls to bear. Why can we not all be rational and understanding and respectful? Why do the definitions of words like logic and reason seem to be completely different to some? For instance, I believe it is illogical, inhumane and irrational to kill murderers as capital punishment. Death is much too serious a matter to be used as a regulated form of punishment. Such a consequence is rarely a deterrent for those that are eager and willing to kill. The act of premeditatedly ending someone’s life against their will is, in fact, murder, and the guilt of those executed does not justify capital punishment. What of all the innocent lives that have been destroyed? Those that were later proven innocent cannot be given back their lives. Old methods and laws of our history cannot be used as a shield against modern wisdom and logic.


             One argument for capital punishment is the age old adage of an "eye for an eye". Aside from being an archaic notion with limited modern applicability, "eye for an eye" was originally meant to primarily refer to financial contracts and agreements pertaining to debts. We should not forget so easily that all the wisdom and tradition that we cling to is often centuries old, and deserving of reanalysis.  An eye for an eye implies that if some material possession is lost, stolen or destroyed it must then be replaced by something of equal or greater value as repentance. In such cases, that which is lost is restored, and someone, if not everyone, benefits.  In a situation of murder and death, "eye for an eye" is not a logically sound principle because there is absolutely nothing gained by anyone in the entire process; there is only loss…unending loss. Those who are killed on the street are not brought back when their killer is put to death through the system. What is done cannot be undone and the addition of another life taken only adds to the injustice...simply, two wrongs do not make a right.
We should not trivialize important moral issues regarding real living beings by trying to apply ancient social philosophies, especially when taken out of context.  This philosophy was also created in a time when humans, particularly women and children, were also thought of as material possessions, and executions served as a major source of entertainment. Old world wisdom is still useful and applicable in many situations, but only when we consider the context and the source from which this thinking occurred. Knowing the source of the ideals you cling to is key to understanding the fundamentals of your beliefs and why you feel that way. We cannot use the precedents of history to justify continued use of death as punishment.
                We do not, as a society, take death seriously enough. Being faced with violence and death every day too often makes humans desensitized and jaded to the concepts of death and consequence. We can say so easily that someone deserves to die, but we should be asking ourselves why we feel that it is our right to end that life.  When someone is put to death in the prison system, those that directly and indirectly cause it and allow it become no better than the alleged criminal that they are putting to death. The desiring and seeking of vengeance is a motivation of the lower self and undermines the development of elevated thought.
                Anyone who takes a life is damaged from that moment forward, and the official paperwork regulating the procedure will do absolutely nothing to heal the scars of guilt upon those who are responsible. Those that complacently, or happily, observe and allow executions are also damaged in a deeply sadistic way. Those that do harm to others are causing harm to themselves by destroying their character, their integrity, their capacity for compassion, empathy, and respect for other living beings. There is something inherently wrong with anyone who takes pleasure in pain and death, which is the definition of sadist. With capital punishment it is not simply a matter of whether or not the accused is deserving of their fate, it is important to understand the moral implications of trying to justify murdering someone because THEY committed murder. How can we logically justify taking that life without becoming that which we are destroying? If we sink to the level of our enemy then we become our enemy, and in the case of taking someone’s life away, the damage is irreparable.  It is simply not our place to decide who deserves to live and who should die.
                Death is not a fitting punishment for those who have taken life. It is a far worse fate to be forever locked in a cell under ceaseless, scrutinizing watchfulness. Violent killers are much more useful to us as study material and test subjects. In this way, even the most unseemly and vile specimens of the human race can serve some meaningful purpose to society rather than waiting in a cell to die.  There was recently a case in the news about a man requesting death for himself because he knew he would kill again, given the chance. As tempting as it may be to submit to his request, this execution could no longer logically be considered a punishment at all, it becomes an assisted suicide and becomes a different issue entirely. Death is often seen as more of a release than a punishment to many of the most violent and vicious offenders, therefore the alleged purpose of executions is defeated. The greater and more fitting punishment is to be denied their freedom and kept where they can do no harm. In spite of those who are for capital punishment would say, incarcerating someone for life is actually cheaper than executing him, so there is a financial benefit to eliminating capital punishment as well.
                My final argument against capital punishment is the most vital reason for ending regulated murder. We have no ability to know exactly how many innocent people we have put to death, but those that have been confirmed should have opened our eyes a long time ago to the injustice of the system. One innocent life taken is too much, and in all of human history that we have been hanging, hacking and electrocuting people the numbers have been in the thousands at least. Of the confirmed cases in this time and country there have been dozens of innocent lives taken to death row never to return. Imagine walking the last mile of your life knowing that you are being put to death for a crime you didn’t commit, knowing that you’re innocent but still incapable of changing what is about to happen, unable to convince anyone of the truth, unable to reclaim your freedom and continue living your life. Imagine your life is being taken away from you for no reason. There is no excuse for denying an innocent person their life.
                Guilty or not, death is far too personal a thing to be considered a punishment in a fair and just society. Death is not a punishment any more than birth or puberty or pregnancy, it is a phase of life which should be treated with dignity and respect.  Even knowing that the prisoner is guilty should not make the judge, the jury or the executioner feel like any less of a murderer. We must ask ourselves if this perverse practice for the pursuit of revenge mistaken for justice is worth the damage done to ourselves. Executions are not a means of self-defense; it is cold, calculating murder. This is not true justice, but merely the illusion of justice in a society that has long been an addict of violence and destruction. Of course only we have the power to end the cycle of madness that runs the system. We are the jury and all we have to do is decide and agree that life is sacred and it is not our right to try and justify the taking of it.  Capital punishment is morally grotesque and is one of the things that holds the evolution of our society back as well as the personal evolution of the individuals who sully their hands with proverbial blood.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    ~Indifference is the most dangerous thing in the world. It is the fertilizer on which evil feeds and, without it, evil has no power. The Lady Rhiannon

    by ladyrhiannon824 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:26:48 PM PST

  •  An elegant essay. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slksfca, dov12348, ladyrhiannon824

    From a karmic standpoint, the US -- one of the top five killers in the world of its own citizens -- is a living monument of the price paid for such depravity:

    Life becomes cheapened in the eyes of the people, and they come to loathe their own government.

    Has there ever been a more perfect living example?

    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:03:53 PM PST

  •  A beautifully written piece. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, ladyrhiannon824

    Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

    by dov12348 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:03:40 PM PST

  •  Extremely well written. (0+ / 0-)

    Personally I would substitute the word revenge for punishment because if we could be honest with ourselves that's what state sanctioned executions are really about and should be called Capital Revenge.  Revenge is real and is deeply seated in the human psyche.  When we are wronged one of our strong reaction is to get even.  It's always a step in the right direction to accept who we are and call things what they are.  Who hasn't though "I'll get you, fucker, when we felt wronged?  

    In the case of state sponsored revenge killing, calling it punishment means that A does not equal A.  It is not punishment for punishment is not punishment when it is revenge.  They have two different purposes.  When you hear victims family members yammering on and on about closure what they mean is revenge.  Honest victims of horrible acts admit that there is no closure.  

    My life decision to oppose the death penalty began with the "Oops Factor."  When I was 13 I read a story about someone who had been released after years of prison when another inmate made a deathbed confession to whatever the crime was that he had been convicted of.  This man was falsely imprisoned for something like 20 years.  From that even a kid could see that the justice system wasn't perfect and logic dictated that if people were falsely convicted of non-capital crimes then statistically there had to be innocent people on death row and in fact innocent people who had been executed.

    So what do you say when you pull the switch and electrocute someone then 2 minutes (or 20 years) later the phone rings.  You pick it up and it's the governor.   He tells you that there was a big mistake at the lab and that the DNA now proves beyond a doubt that the guy you just lawfully executed, the guy whose still smoldering in the chair, didn't do it.  Somehow Opps just doesn't cut the mustard.   What empathetic human could live with that?  How can I live with it being done in my name without speaking out?

    In The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolken summed it up perfectly.  If you will remember, Frodo thought the fellowship would be better off with Gollum dead, to which Gandalf replied:

     “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 10:57:56 PM PST

  •  The mercy of the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey

    Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: ". . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy." (p. 116). " . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." "A Bible Study" (p. 111-113) Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.



    Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

    In fact, abandoning the death penalty will mean that more innocents will die.

    1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

    2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

    99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

  •  Justice: The Fundation of the Death Penalty (0+ / 0-)

    Justice is the foundation for all sanctions, just as with the death penalty.

    All sanctions are based upon a proprotional sanction for the crime comitted.

    The death penalty is no more revenge than are fines or incarceration, meaning not al all.

    In reality, the death penalty has the greatest of due process protections of all criminal sanctions, making it even more removed from revenge.

    Criminal sanctions are taken out of the hands of those most affected by the crimes, be that the vicitms themsleves or their loved ones.

    Judges and juries make the punishment decsisons in these cases, which takes these sanctions outside the realm of revenge.

    "The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

    "Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

    "Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars"

    "The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

  •  Gandalfs killings - justice (0+ / 0-)


    "even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    Yes, and what was the end for Gollum?


    Read your whole quote again:

     “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    Which character stated that?


    How many hundreds or thousands did Gandalf, personally, kill?  How many hundreds of thousands did he assit in killing?

    Did he eagerly approach that task knowing it was required?

    Of course.

    Why? For justice and the defeat of evil - the same goals.

    Think, don't just quote.

  •  Of course the death penalty deters (0+ / 0-)

    Death is feared more than life. Life is preferred over death, not just with potential murderers, but as with all of us, save for the determined suicidal.

    All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is a truism.

    The question is not does the death penalty deter some. It does, just as all sanctions do.

    The only remaining question is "Does the death penalty provide an enhanced deterrent greater than life without parole?"

    The evidence is stronger that it does than it does not.

    99.7% of murderers tells us "Give me life, not execution"

    --  Of course the Death Penalty Deters
        See sections C and D within
    The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives



    --  Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

    --  "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

  •  eye for an eye: some reality (0+ / 0-)

    This concept was created because of the excessively harsh punihsment which were used in the past.

    It was a demand for more proportional and balanced sanctions, based upon the nature of the crimes.

    It is a call for justice and a call to end disproportionately harsh sanctions.

    In the US, the death penalty is, most certainly, used only in cases wherein the sanction is proportional to the crime.

  •  Importance of Learning (0+ / 0-)


    I agree with you above essay "Importance of Learning", wherein you state:

    " Those who cannot or will not stop to examine, study, and analyze the world around them seem to have little to no ability to apply any form of analysis upon themselves, thus cannot achieve a level of self-actualization."

    So true, with the death penalty as well.

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