Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's time to talk Capital Punishment

This happens every time an innocent person is killed in a stupid, callous or malicious manner.

This time the victim is an 8 year old girl named Victoria Stafford. Do the details matter? 8 year olds are, by definition, innocent of anything that could possibly deserve such a fate. Does it matter how she was led away by a person she recognized? Does it matter what was done to her? She was innocent. She was treated horribly and now she is gone.

And so it begins.

Let's kill the murderers!

I suppose I'd agree to capital punishment under two conditions:
a) we can be absolutely sure we have the correct guilty party
b) killing the murderer would bring the victim back to life

Because as I understand it, we can not achieve "justice" for Victoria Stafford with our present technology. The innocent eight year old is gone and we can't get her back. Even if you could, beyond any doubt, establish who killed her, what benefit is there to putting killers to death?

You can trot out all the arguments you want: not wanting to pay for the housing and feeding of the murderers while in jail; the deterrence factor for future potential killers; preventing these murderers from striking again.

None of those arguments (even though only the last holds up under scrutiny) make anything but a mash of the concept of justice. There can't be justice for Victoria Stafford. Nor for Kristen French or Leslie Mahaffy.

And what we have in this country is a system of justice, not a system of revenge. Other cultures have had revenge based systems. An eye for eye meant malice was answered with malice and the descent to madness was ensured.

Killing these murderers wouldn't accomplish anything except to demonstrate that we can kill them. We would not be a safer nation but a more brutal one. We would be a nation admitting that we can't defeat dangerous people except by sinking to their level. We would be surrendering to our bloodlust and bankrupting our moral fiber in the process.

Why shouldn't we put Victoria Stafford's murderers to death?

Because we're better than they are. That's reason enough.

Don't let an innocent child be an excuse for barbarism.

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Pale said...

It comes down to revenge basically, nothing to do with justice.

And as we all kind of know, the death penalty isn't really a deterrent anyway.

But try to tell that to some of the bloodthirsty ghouls.
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, just leaves us blind & toothless."

Mike said...

You know Pale is right, it has nothing to do with justice.

I am old enough to remember the same cries for re-instating capital punishment after another little girl was murdered back in the 80's.

Oh it was terrible. She disappeared walking home from school and her body was found some weeks later.

But the cops got their guy, a real weirdo. People screamed the death penalty should be reinstated.

Of course, the only problem was, Guy Paul Morin didn't do it.

Don't trust the police and the justice system, especially in emotional cases like this.

rww said...

These are the type of cases where "capital punishment" is most dangerous. The more horrendous the case the more emotional the desire to get "justice" and the more likely it is to mistakenly find an innocent person guilty in the emotional zeal for "justice" because someone has to pay.

And that is not even considering the morality of capital punishment - killing someone because killing is wrong.