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We teach the children only the highest of our ideals, the most virtuous of our values. An integral part of our “code of chivalry” is Immanuel Kant’s Golden Rule: Do as you would be done by. It is taught as a rule to be followed not only in school, but one to live by. Children never fail to imitate the behavior of their elders. This is a beckoning to us, the people of the village who will raise the child, to illustrate our words, to show that the Golden Rule isn’t just an empty clich?.
Such crimes as murder render life cheap and people expendable. These atrocities are not to be tolerated. And a crime is only as severe as the punishment that follows, right?
Ancient Babylon, in 18th century BC, had its version of our rule. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” stated Hammurabi’s code. “Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword,” agrees the Bible.
A recent study concluded that every execution of a murder deters eighteen murders on average. Raising the number of death sentences from 39% of cases tried to 40%, an increase of only 1%, would prevent one hundred five murders. One hundred five lives saved.
Executing criminals renders them unable to commit more crime. If they’re dead, what more harm can they do?
There are two types of punishment: lex talonis and lex salica. Lex talonis involves that “eye for an eye” principal, while lex salica involves repairing damage by payment. In some cases, lex salica acceptable, but not in murder cases. One cannot expect to buy the forgiveness of the victim’s family. This puts a price on the life of the victim and does not take into account the family’s need for retribution.
If someone committed the capital crime, if he brutally murdered your mother or child, would you not want to know that he received the capital punishment, paid the full price? Would you not want to be sure that what he did to your family he’d never be able to do again? I would. Not only is it a matter of the family’s need for reprisal, but also society’s administering of justice. Imposing the death penalty forces the murderer to take responsibility for his actions. Punishment should equal harm done.
Did the murdered not have a right to life? One of our most fundamental doctrines in this country says so. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In stripping another of his basic rights, a murderer forfeits his own rights.
If only we could bring back the victim, after the trial, the sentence, and the release, when the murderer is loose, on the streets, ready, willing, and able to reek havoc once more. What would the victim say? We’d have committed another murder. We kill them again, those victims of murder.
Many people present shallow arguments against the death penalty.
“We are no better if we kill them,” the puritanical argue. “Life in prison is just as effective and far less cruel.”
This is very true. True, that is, if one fails to take into account all the murders committed within a prison and upon escape. Thirteen thousand Americans are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. Also, keeping them in prison costs $1.2-3.6 million more than imposing the death penalty. Punishing people by incarceration is ineffective and usually results in criminals being released back into society.
“And if we convict an innocent person, what then?” the skeptics cry.
Yes, what then? We make an exchange, or, rather a compromise, for our safety. This risk of executing an innocent person is our opportunity cost. One must keep in mind that 38% of murder cases result in a death sentence, but only .1% of that 38% are carried out.
People die from car wrecks every day. The people who killed them didn’t mean to do so. Why impose a standard of perfection only on our justice system?
“Violence doesn’t solve anything,” the na?ve point out.
If only it were true… This is optimism at its worst. Historically, violence has solved more conflict and forced more resolution than anything else.
“So we murder to show that murder is wrong?” the oblivious ask.
A policeman has to speed to catch someone speeding. There is a world of difference between a crime and its punishment.
Besides, it isn’t murder. Murder is unlawful and involves malicious intent.
“What are we if we impose the death penalty in those ‘special’ cases?” the softhearted wonder.
The victim’s family will most likely not take comfort in knowing that the person who killed their child had a low IQ, or some other mental handicap. Besides, giving special consideration would be discrimination.
“It violates one of the commandments,” the religious exclaim.
The sixth commandment, when translated directly from its original Hebrew version says, “Thou shall not murder.” As has already been made clear, imposing the death penalty is not murder. And if He doesn’t, who will pass judgement when we don’t? We simply cannot wait for Atropos to cut the thread and deal with the menace until then.
“Capital punishment is sacrilegious by Christian standard,” the ignorant shout.
In Genesis 9:6, God says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
As members of a society, it is our obligation to burden justice upon others. Burglars pay for their crimes with money, for this is the value of what they took, but we cannot put a price on life. Life can be worth only life. Money cannot compensate nor can time in prison.
In the names of all the victims of violent crimes, impose the penalty. Peace and stability cannot be achieved unless we do. And it is true. Two wrongs don’t make a right; in fact, they accomplish much more.
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