Although I have been encouraged to post about abortion, I just watched a special on the death penalty and NEED to address the death penalty first. Especially because I disagree so firmly with the conservative mindset on the entire situation and am appalled at the morality behind it. (Think about this and don’t read it with your thoughtless emotional defenses up and ready to fend off attack based on how you were raised. You are your own person. Hear me out and then decide if I am an idiot before you dismiss me because your parents told you the death penalty is okay…)
Also, I am not an emotional humanist. I cannot STAND humanism and the touchy-feely b.s. about everyone being an individual who is special and all of this nonsense. For purposes of going about our daily business, I reject this thought strand fully. Psychology, sociology, neurology, and life experience dictates I am just another member of society, I am likely not as special as I think, I am not as unique as I pretend (since I take a little bit of my surroundings and make it my own, many would argue I am just a bad copy) and I might not have very much to offer the entire world as a whole other than my existence (Not to be dismal, just so you understand where I am coming from…). For purposes of the rights to life and the event of death, I am as humanist as they come. Everyone’s life and death on a personal level are respectively as beautiful and disastrous as the creation of the world. There is nothing more important than you, or than me, or than the guy on a farm in rural China. (Is the difference clear? Hmm…) That said, the below is all rational and not emotionally based on a touchy-feely standard of how each of us is such a great person, blah blah blah… But man, is it visceral!
First, I think human life is one of the only things that should be protected at any cost. It is not some triviality that can be voted against or sublimated to resemble that of animals in lab tests. Humans are of incommensurable value and our lives should be based around making the lives of those around us better. Why? Each person is a you; each person is a me (unless you are a solipsist. Then, get the hell out). That person you walk by on the street looks out of their eyes and feels just like you and I do. Consciousness is immutable and completely personal. If you can imagine, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Cliche, maybe, but do it. And do it right before they are going to die. Can you imagine what it would be like? It is you sitting in that electric chair waiting for the click that will end your life. Honestly, what would that feel like? We, humans, are different than every other animal, resource, or thing of value because we experience and because that experience is powerful enough to change our world. (I am horrible at articulating my rationale for the individual.) Getting to it, the point of this paragraph is that the impact one person can make is unfathomable, and although it cannot be measured by either science nor imagination, I assure you that the personal contact with reality we have is something no other existence is characterized by… (Ramble ramble ramble…)
Getting to the point, the retributive mindset seems to be the most base moral schema for punishment in existence. Retribution is the ‘eye-for-an-eye,’ just deserts, you get what you paid for argument, in which a guy who kills his wife intentionally, deliberately, and premeditatedly deserves the same cold calculation by the government in exacting his death. You deserve pain for the pain you have caused. But this line of thought is, at best, faulty. Not only does this rationale break down when we consider what punishment a guy like Stalin should have received (the death, of not 6 million jews like Hitler, but up to 18 million of his own people), but also when we think of the idea that it serves no purpose for the greater good. What good does it do the family of a victim to see another death? It will not make them feel better, nor will it do the slightest to bring their lost family member back. Your pain plus the exacting of pain on another is never the answer to your pain (Though more pain on you might be…. Think about that one!).
It is revolting to me to think that some people’s moral processes in this country are based around hurting someone, not to help them, but to further their plummet into the dehumanization in which they currently exist. Our purpose in life is best served not to injure members of society, but to make them the most operable and useful beings that entail the essence of what being human is. Our country and world will not last if we cannot learn to utilize the human person to enact the greater good instead of pushing him to his destruction for the horrible acts he has committed. If you believe in God, the murderer is already damned (unless he can still redeem himself…?)…. And maybe that is the problem. God has become the problem in this country, especially among the conservative southerners who promote the death penalty as if it were a commandment. But the religious argument is not the one that is important to everyone (Although I acknowledged it, to address the religious is entirely beyond the point as far as social policy and governmental basis because religion has no place in politics and vice versa. Besides the fact that not everyone is religious and to impose a system upon a country who’s ideal was to get away from oppressive overlaid systems like religion and monarchies. I can and will address the religious somewhere else if you would like…).
If you wish to have a secular argument, let us assume no afterlife for the purposes of furthering justice on earth without addressing the beyond. If that is the case, shouldn’t our life goals be oriented toward maximizing human potential and goodness rather than playing as if we are gods and dictating lives like killers suppose to do? If this is the only life, isn’t it the case that we should give each person every moment of his life since it is the most valuable thing he will ever have? If there is no God or no afterlife, justice is served by letting each man live out his time and make it the best for him that we possibly can. If he wants to spend it in a cell or in a room within no sight of any human beings, so be it. In the case of the murder I listed above or any other heinous crime, the answer is not a free life. I am a lawyer (for all intents and purposes !!! ); I know best of all how horrible crimes can be. These people don’t deserve to get off. They do deserve the dignity of life though, even if it is in solitary confinement for the remainder of their days. If we cannot give the murderer drugs or some other means of effective rehabilitation, then we must incapacitate him. But life is not a dignity we should fashion to take for reason of our own satisfaction, else we become the murderers we despise.
[As an aside, to kill someone is to deprive them of life, the greatest thing they own! Is this something the Constitution should protect under the due process clause? I think so.]
If we are going to have the death penalty, I would argue that the means right now (electrocution, hanging, gas chamber, and lethal injection) are no longer acceptable constitutionally (because they qualify as cruel and unusual) and need serious reconsideration. [There is no way to humanely kill a person, for what is humane is natural because being human is our nature, and untimely death is never natural. ‘Humane death penalty’ is therefore an oxymoron. An unnatural natural thing? Not possible. Death at the end of a life, with the grace and life experience to allow coping and a reflection on the good one has done is what is natural (an entire discourse on its own). I have never been labelled as a humanist (I think humanity is plain rotten for the most part), but personal death brings me as close to humanism as is possible.] If we reform the means of killing a man to make it painless, though it is still inhumane and inhuman to kill a man, I would argue that we should extend it to certain rape, child rape and molestation cases, and torture cases. There are things much worse than murder and many can have emotional effects much worse than murder on the victim that can do generational damage on a massive scale untouched by some murders (I mean c’mon, how sad can you be if you just got offed? High-five for that heartless little addition to the argument!).
These are a bit of why I think the death penalty is a buncha horse shit. Gotta give it to the Dems on this one….
There is one scenario I can think of in which the death penalty is alright. A behind-the-back, ollie-to-nosegrind, three-sixty high-five (my skater friend told me that it is real) if you can guess it….
Sorry this was so scattered. It is hard to keep on a straight line with all of the arguments that come so quickly into my silly little brain. And I still have more but I am le tired….G’day.