Thursday, April 25, 2002

We Are Not Barbarians, Are We?

Federal judge about to declare death penalty unconstitutional?

Cutting through all the arguments about whether it serves as a deterrent, costs society more or less than incarceration for life, whether certain heinous crimes cry out for it, how the death penalty is racist and applied disproportionately to the poor ... I keep coming back to the underlying hypocrisy of the ultimate punishment. Look: if it's wrong to kill, then it's wrong to kill. How can you sanctimoniously decree that murder is so vile and despicable that the only suitable punishment is murder? If your position on the death penalty is based on eye for an eye logic, I don't see how you can argue the position consistently. What then is the appropriate punishment for someone who robs a house? Does the state then get to go in and rob their house? Who's going to rape the rapist? On it's face the argument appears rational; but, as soon as you try to apply it, you find it's really not. Plus, there's that whole problem with sending people to death row who didn't even do the crime. That's a problem; we probably shouldn't be executing people for no reason.
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