Archive for May, 2014

Murder by any other name

Opponents of the death penalty—a growing number, from 20 percent a decade ago to 40 percent today—still think they have to come up with reasons that are neither here nor there to explain their aversion to the practice. Why do they have to give a reason? For fear of what? Being seen as weak in the face of crime? Not red-blooded enough? Un-American? The mistaken execution of innocents is the statement most often trotted out as indeed it has been known to happen and is a terrible thing. But no reason is needed to oppose the death penalty other than that it’s murder.

lethal injection

Since the dreadful recent mess-up in Oklahoma, I’ve had to argue with a few people (very few—I live on the East Coast where most everyone I know opposes the death penalty, as they oppose torture, this last still proudly claimed by Cheney and the couples of cronies he may have left) regarding the very principle of the death penalty. Didn’t Clayton Lockett deserve death for his abominable crime, they ask? To which I answer that he deserved it a thousand times, that had I been the mother of the poor young woman he raped, shot and ordered buried alive, I would be the first to drive a stake through his vile heart. But I will not accept that my government exact revenge, I don’t want it to invoke either justice or any principle at all to justify the death penalty. Killing is killing. Killing in a terrible manner is also killing, on one side or another. And even if this criminal had received a kiss on the forehead and been gently put to sleep instead of being tortured to the point that hardened prison officials were sick to their stomach, it would still be killing. Read more…

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