posted on Jul, 28 2007 @ 10:11 PM
I don't typically post here, but I had a conversation yesterday regarding this issue and it caught my eye. Before I add my opinion to the pot, I'd
like to say that I adhere to a personal philosophy in which my respect for a person does not wax or wane based on their views, and I never think ill
of those who do not share my own. None of us knows everything, and none of us is capable of absolute, unflawed objectivity. It is my belief that we
must always be humble enough to accept that we may be wrong, and even, in fact, that we may all be incapable of collectively knowing what is
"right" or "wrong," or whether such a thing even truly exists. I choose to believe it does, but that does not make it so. I have my own views
regarding this issue and others, but my views are not necessarily the wisest. They are only my opinions, born out, more of than not, of emotion and
perception. I am saying this because, as others have stated, this is a decidedly delicate and vehemently contested matter. I want anyone reading this
to know that I profoundly respect your views, I respect you as a fellow member, and I respect you as a fellow human being, irrespective of your
stance. That will not change based on what I read here or your feelings regarding my opinion.
There are several common justifications for the death penalty. The most commonly mentioned ones seem to be vengeance, deterrence, and the protection
of innocent members of society.
I personally feel that vengeance is an unwise path, and one that harms those that walk it as much as those it is implemented against. For that reason,
I do not support the death penalty as a means of vengeance.
I also personally feel that as human beings, and ostensibly "free" human beings at that, we should be capable of acting in a conscientious, humane,
compassionate, and civil fashion toward our fellow beings, not out of fear of punishment, but because we seek to coexist wisely and productively with
others. For that reason, I do not support the death penalty as a means of justice, because it motivates behavior through fear and deterrence rather
than instilling people with the desire to refrain from causing harm out of an impulse toward altruism.
Once we remove vengeance and deterrence as justifications for the death penalty, what remains? The remaining potential justification is, in my
opinion, the protection of innocent members of society against violent criminals and/or sexual predators. If the remaining justification for the
death penalty is the existence of individuals who lack conscience, cannot control their predatory urges, and who are incapable of refraining from
harmful behavior, then we are not, in my opinion, talking about people who are choosing to do harm; we are talking about people who are sick. There
is, in my opinion, a difference between an animal and a sick human being. The crux of that difference is, in my view, the capacity inherent in human
beings to override pure instinct and act based solely on choice. If indeed that capacity is somehow "broken" in these individuals, then I feel we
should isolate them from society, and work toward finding the means by which to "fix" it.
This is probably where many will disagree with me, and I understand people's reasons for this and respect them immensely. My dilemma is that I do not,
and cannot, regard the life of one person, however depraved and destructive, as less worthy of existence than another life, or even multiple lives.
For that reason, in addition to the other reasons for which I oppose the death penalty, I cannot justify someone's death by the monetary cost to
society of sustaining their life and searching for a means by which to cure their psychological or neurological illness and/or impairment.
I will, however, concede that the means to help these individuals without causing some degree of burden or even harm to society does not yet exist.
For that reason, despite everything I have stated previous to the following, I prefer to limit my opposition to the death penalty to this lone
statement: there may be times when it is necessary to take a human life, however there is not a scenario of which I can conceive in which I would
feel justified in doing so myself, and I would never knowingly be the one to advocate or implement another human being's death.