Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Executions: A trial of humanity

I'm 100 percent against the death penalty for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that I believe it's rooted in revenge rather than justice. Incidents like this one only reinforce that. Many people are expressing glee over the fact that this man suffered unduly in his final moments, just like his victim undoubtedly did.

Like those people, I abhor murder. Unlike those people, I consider this murder also. Did Clayton Lockett deserve death? That's a different question than, does a government supposedly bound by laws and not mob rule, with a history of executing innocent people — and one most conservatives think oversteps its bounds with health insurance regulations — have the right to end lives? I say a government that decides life-and-death matters is one that's too powerful (I'm pro-choice and pro-assisted-suicide for the same reason).

People like to joke about sterilizing inmates' arms before inserting the death needle, as well as everything else that goes into comfort for the condemned. But like with war, execution is supposed to be a serious, clinical action of last resort, one that is regrettable and reversible to the bitter end. To celebrate either is barbaric.

Many, if not most, Americans who cheer the death penalty consider themselves Christians with the utmost respect for life. Those people need to examine their capacity for a central tenet of Jesus' teachings, forgiveness. No one has to say, "I forgive Lockett for shooting and burying a teenager alive," but there is forgiveness in affording him his dignity and humanity despite his crimes — in being better than he was. We being a species for whom bloodlust is a primal urge and is socially satisfying, forgiveness can be very, very hard. 

But then, being a principled human being often is.

1 comment:

KBliss said...

I am with you on this one pal. I feel that way too about people seeking revenge vs justice with the death penalty or otherwise. The big one here right now is the Hailey Owens case.

Craig Michael Wood is facing charges for murdering and raping a 10-year-old. Personally, I consider crimes against children to be some of the worst crimes out there. However, it's not up to any other human being to say someone deserves death.

There were fundraisers left and right for the family of Hailey Owens to help pay for funeral expenses. Unless, they were really foolish with that money, I am sure that their expenses were more than covered. But, now they are trying to sue Wood in civil court, which I think is utterly ridiculous. Basically the parents are saying "you took our daughter and we are so wounded by the loss of her that criminal charges are not enough. We are going to take all your money too."

Yeah, because that will make them feel better about what happened.....