Personal view on capital punishment
By Lady Rhiannon
I am but a shadow in the 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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