Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"I believe they want to kill the death penalty."

The quote above comes from Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I certainly do.

The Shelby County Commission spent two hours last night debating a resolution urging the state legislature to continue the moratorium on Tennessee's use of the death penalty, set to expire in May. The resolution died, as those that opposed the resolution are just as firmly entrenched in their beliefs as those who support it. Two commissioners were absent, and two more abstained from the vote.

Allow me state this in the clearest terms possible--- I do support the resolution.

I don't support it because the unequal application of the death penalty implies that the life of a white victim is worth more than that of a black victim, although it certainly does. A multiple murderer is, statistically speaking, less likely to be executed than a black man that kills a white man.

I don't support the resolution or the moratorium simply because we have yet to find a way to carry out the punishments humanely--- Although that too is true.

I don't support the resolution and the moratorium because criminologists are near unanimous in proclaiming it absolutely useless in the deterrence of crime. Although they are.

I don't support the resolution and the moratorium because trying a capital case and carrying out an execution costs much more than keeping someone in prison for forty years, although that is true.

I don't support it because of some underlying belief that the person on death row is an innocent that has been railroaded by an out of control justice system. I find that to be the weak point of most anti-death penalty arguments. Worst of all, it shortchanges us out of the debate that really matters, sidestepping all questions of morality and guaranteeing that the fight must take place all over again every time a jury hands down a death penalty verdict.

I support the resolution and the moratorium simply because it's wrong on every level to say "Killing someone is bad. And to prove it, we're going to kill you."

Either premeditated murder is bad, or it is not. You have to choose. If you or I capture someone, strap them down, and inject a lethal dose of chemicals into their veins, we go to jail. If we killed a white person, we might even go to death row over it.

If the state does exactly the same thing, it's called "justice".

The people in favor of the death penalty are fond of using a religious argument. "If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Of course, it's worthwhile to note that the argument comes from the book of Exodus--- Well before God's own Son became the victim of the death penalty, the very son that refuted "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" during the Sermon on the Mount.

I urge everyone to support the moratorium--- Simply because it's the right thing to do.

Do I want to kill the death penalty, Commissioner Bunker? You bet I do.


PeskyFly said...

Rick--- those who cite "an eye for an eye" generally get the meaning wrong anyway. It's a notion that actually still exist in modern law--- the principle of equivalence. And it's a liberal notion designed to PROTECT THE PERP.

Essentially, an eye for an eye means that if I kill your goat you can't burn my house and rape my wife and daughters.

Freedonian said...

That's certainly true, but they use it to mean "a life for a life" in death penalty cases.