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December 09, 2005

Comments

Paul

I think one of the problems folks have with capital punishment, is their own static view of the affair. I like to see CP as the state looking out for the marginalized, the weak, and those who don’t run around killing people. In the static view, one person kills another, then the states sanctions the killing of the perpetrator. Some think this justice and others think it retribution; but both argue with a sense of moral supremacy.

I side with justice, but not in the linear fashion. I would put myself at the crime; I would see the innocent and the guilty. I would ask myself—to prevent lose of this innocent life—would I have need to take it from the executioner? The people are saying, if we could have been there, we would have protected you to the fullest and most necessary means. Capital punishment is carrying out the intent of the state to protect the individual, not vengeance of the slain innocent. People put their faith in the law, and if it weren’t upheld (or attempted to be), the law would become null and void (as some believe it is in the process).

“…state-sanctioned murder” as if “they” are innocent.

BritGirlSF

I agree that all the talk about redemption is a bit of a red herring here. For those who oppose the death penalty, the real reason is fundamentally that the State should not be in the business of killing it's citizens. Violence has a tendency to beget more violence, and I too worry about the effects on society as a whole. What message does it send about the proper limits of State power if we say that the State has the right to decide who lives and who dies?
That's before we even get into all the problems with the racially biased way the death penalty if applied. There's also the fact that, looking at the evidence, it doesn't seem to have any deterrent effect at all, so even from a coldly practical and amoral point of view it doesn't make sense to continue executing people.
You raised an important point that I think is often overlooked in discussions of this issue. What effect does the application of the death penalty have on those charged with carrying it out? I'm not a religious person, but for those who are, would such an act not be regarded as placing an indelible stain on the souls of the participants? I often wonder what pyschological effects the executioners may suffer later in life, especially if their values change as they grow older, as so often happens. Are they haunted by regret in their later years? Is it right for the state to risk imposing that burden upon them?

Col Steve

That's before we even get into all the problems with the racially biased way the death penalty if applied.

What evidence supports this claim? Do you mean the race of the (convicted) murderers or the race of their victims?

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm

There's also the fact that, looking at the evidence, it doesn't seem to have any deterrent effect at all,

This point, if true, may undercut one rationale for capital punishment; however, supporters of the death penalty claim other other motives for the state having death as an option in its methods to safeguard citizens.

What effect does the application of the death penalty have on those charged with carrying it out? I'm not a religious person, but for those who are, would such an act not be regarded as placing an indelible stain on the souls of the participants? I often wonder what pyschological effects the executioners may suffer later in life, especially if their values change as they grow older, as so often happens. Are they haunted by regret in their later years? Is it right for the state to risk imposing that burden upon them?

Substitute "abortion" for "the death penalty" - the only difference being the "executioners" are not (always) state employees..or perhaps if your view of "life" starts at a point later than in the womb.

I admire your post Hugo in cutting through the hype to get at the core issue. Although, when you wrote this - "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it" - I again thought of abortion.

Caitriona

Substitute "abortion" for "the death penalty" - the only difference being the "executioners" are not (always) state employees..or perhaps if your view of "life" starts at a point later than in the womb.

I admire your post Hugo in cutting through the hype to get at the core issue. Although, when you wrote this - "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it" - I again thought of abortion.

Col Steve, that is why there are many who oppose both abortion and the death penalty and who support aid to underprivileged families. There needs to be a better distinction between "Right to Birth" and "Right to Life." "Right to Life," to me, begins at conception, goes through birth, carries on through life, and includes a stance on "no death penalty." There are many others out there with similar feelings on the subject.

Caitriona

ACK!! Kill the italics!

Caitriona

Did this get it?

LAmom

I'm late joining in on this discussion, but here's my view on reconciling the Mosaic law with my opposition to the death penalty. Israel in the Bible was established as an actual theocracy with no separation of church and state. The people who lived under the Mosaic law knew that they were accepting it as being directly from God and being above questioning (anyone who disagreed would have to leave the country and the covenant). Because of that, I feel that I can view their use of the death penalty as consistent with my belief that only God has the right to end someone's life. Even so, the government in Israel grew more and more corrupt after the death of Moses, and it wasn't long before the law and the death penalty were being misused. There's a lesson in that.

Our government is not a theocracy. We don't all follow one religion, and we do have separation of church and state. So I still feel comfortable saying that I don't believe in state-sanctioned killing by our government or any other one.

Uzzah

Must.. kill.. italics...

Hows that?

alexander

I would like to see this kind of concern for people trapped by the justice system other than a convicted murderer. For example, here in California the voters passed a medical marijuana law. The federal government responded by attacking medical marijuana clinics. It's an interesting commentary, by the way, on the government claiming to be fighting for "freedom" in Iraq (and let me note the Democrats are no different from the GOP on this issue).

I have been an activist on this issue, and find it very interesting that you can mobilize Hollywood and such to rally behind a Tookie. But they generally ignore the millions of people whose lives are destroyed by repression, frame-ups and police brutality.

alexander

PS: You still have italics!

I did not use any italic tags in my prior post. But I'll try the "close italics" tag to see if it ends this.

Bonnie

Here are the thoughts pressed out of me the night Tookie was executed:

MERCY

We all say, “What would Jesus do?”
As if to start a thought
NOT knowing what was in His heart
The day that we were bought

Our sins were left there at the cross
Not one more left to carry
Yet still we take each others lives
Not caring who we bury

Forever judging others sins
Instead of following
The mercy and the grace He gives
In Jesus Christ, our King

Now Tookie knew that he had slipped
Into the great abyss
But while he sat alone in time
One thing he did not miss

He knew His Fathers promises
The payment that was made
The priceless blood shed long ago
His debt already paid

If only those who run our world
Could see beyond their nose
They might find out that Jesus Christ
Already died and rose

Some think He did it just for them
Their little sins washed clean
But like the white washed sepulchers
Their hearts are always seen

I wonder how the hard heart bleeds
Does red blood flow throughout?
Or is it full of hurt and pain
No mercy, only doubt

Where does the hatred lie within
That spews forth, “Let him die!”?
As if another on the cross
Will change the evil lie

You see it’s Satan’s plan to come
And squash the mercy seat
That one day we will stand before
Yes, Jesus we will meet

For those whose hearts do not learn here
The truth of Calvary
They’ll learn it begging for His Heart
His generosity

For mercy will cry from their hearts
With tears that fall like rain
But only what is bound on earth
Will fall upon their pain

For God can not give back to us
What we have not let flow
And while we may plead, “Mercy! Please!”
What’s in our heart He’ll show

For He will look upon our hearts
And judge us one by one
And how we love our brothers now
Will tell us if we’ve won

The race is love right from the start
There’s nothing in between
To live our lives, as Christ lived His
All that we do is seen

Saul was one who slaughtered Christians
Yet, Paul he would become
Our God forgave him of his crimes
To build on His Kingdom

If the mercy of our Master
Does not seek a life
Then why must we feel so compelled
To answer with a knife?

I cannot fathom those who say
I am a Christian soul
While harboring a thirst for death
As if to clear a cold

My heart and soul cry out for God
To soften all who hate
No matter what our brothers’ done
We’ll all stand at the gate

If mercy is what we show forth
Then that is what He’ll give
For those who keep the flame alive
I know He’ll let us live

We all say, “What would Jesus do?”
As if to start a thought
NOW knowing what was in His heart
The day that we were bought!

IT WAS MERCY!

Bonnie M. Gordon 12/13/2005

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