Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Death Penalty: Three Arguments

  1. IT'S NOT A DETERRENT. Well, it is, but not a more effective deterrent than the alternatives. If we eliminated the death penalty today, would there be a rise in: "I think I'll kill my boss - what's the worst that can happen? Life in prison, right? Ha!" People who are killing other people rarely are considering the consequences.
  2. GOD SAYS NO. Most death penalty advocates in this country are religious people who will quote scripture at you. If you bring up the bible in this argument they'll say "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." It's from Exodus. Also from Exodus though are the ten commandments. One of them, and this is the word of the big fellah, is "Though Shalt Not Kill." Unlike the first quote, this is not a vague philosophical guideline. This is an unambiguous edict. It doesn't have some legal disclaimer on it, such as "Thou shalt not kill, except in cases of retribution or to avenge yourself on those who break the other nine commandments." Really, the guy is pretty clear on this one. Listen to him.
  3. IT'S ILLOGICAL. There is no message more mixed than this: Killing is the ultimate wrong; therefore if anyone murders another person we will kill them as an example to demonstrate how wrong we think it is. It's a much more severe version of the scenario where your parents try to get you to stop smoking by forcing you to smoke.
The death penalty, at its core, is nothing more than revenge killing. Try to look at it any other way and you run into these three reasons. And so you need to ask yourself if society should be in the business of revenge killing? Is that what society is for? No! It is not. Besides, a certain percentage, small but measurable, of the people we kill are innocent of the crime. We shouldn't tolerate something like that. Eliminating the death penalty is an easy fix we should put in place yesterday.

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