December 14, 2004

Topics Not To Touch With a Ten Foot Pole

But I'm gonna do it anyway. But rather with a cattle prod. Less chance of it coming back to bite me in the ass.

Everyone's favorite commie pinko appears to be in favor of abolishing the death penalty. Not because that's the right and just thing to do, but rather because it's inefficient and doesn't serve as a deterrant.

In theory, I favor capital punishment. "An eye for an eye .. a life for a life," has always seemed just to me. Deterrence? I don't know. Deterrence always sparks the most arguments. Historically, there was a practical, timely death penalty. On March 6, 1933, Guiseppe Zangara fired on FDR's motorcade, killing the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak. Within days he was indicted and tried. Found guilty, he was executed on March 20, two weeks after gunning down Mayor Cermak. If that's what we had now, I would favor its continuation. Prompt and consistently imposed execution might have been a deterrent.

But that is not what we have; instead we have an rarely imposed, lengthily delayed death sentence. In 2003, Amnesty Int'l reported 65 executions in the United States. How many murders in 2002? 16,204. So, if you murder someone in the United States, your chance of being executed eventually is four-tenths of one percent. "Eventually?" In Florida, a state that actually uses its electric chair, notes that the average stay on death row is almost 12 years.

Let's face it comrades, the Left has won this debate. Capital punishment has been outlawed throughout the Western world, leaving the U.S. in the dubious company of China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, et al. Here in the U.S. death penalty opponents, in lieu of actually eliminating capital punishment, have raised nearly-insuperable obstacles to every instance of its application. Timothy McVeigh practically had to volunteer. Will Scott Peterson ever walk the green mile?

I think he's got a point. Commie pinko leanings notwithstanding.

I've lived in states where the death penalty is an option and I've lived in states where it isn't. In my experience, the death penalty is more of a political tool than it is about actually deterring people from killing other people.

You'll pardon the expression, but it's all in the execution.

It's not about right and wrong, per se, in the politicians eyes: it's about finding a way to protect their civilians. A rising crime rate, or one particularly shocking murder, will bring about the death penalty conversations and how much safer things were in the good ol' days when they had the opportunity to fry someone for a heinous crime. Some will come out strongly in favor of having the ability to execute the offender. Some will vehemently deny that the system has any right to "murder" someone, and will protest that someone who is innocent might be executed. In other words, it's all about the level of faith politicians have in the system. Death penalty advocates believe the system, despite its flaws, works. Death penalty protesters believe the system is too flawed to take such a chance.

And this argument always, it seems to me, swirls around in an atmosphere of panic and hysteria. Because we never really do talk about the death penalty when things are happy and people aren't being murdered left and right, do we? Nope. We're procrastinators: we wait until things are bad before we start speaking of it. This atmosphere does not lend itself to rational thought, hence this is precisely when the politicians jump in.

I don't know about you, but I don't want professional politicians deciding this one. Sounds undemocratic, I'm sure, but hey...someone's life is one the line here. Namely mine. If the theory behind capital punishment is that it's a deterrant, well, we're in trouble, kids. Because the American variant of capital punishment is nothing but a big waste of time and money.

The husband has done a lot of business in the Middle East. He's traveled there before and I wasn't really all that worried about his safety. Sure he might be mugged. He might lose his wallet. He might even get his western ass beat up if he crossed a group of fervent, self-flogging Shias on one of their high holy days. But would he be murdered in a back alley? Probably not. Why? Because they execute murderers in the Middle East and they don't fuck about when doing so either. Hence the murder rate is pretty damn low.

(Random aside: Wives, if your husband ever has to go to the Middle East on business, don't complain: it's better than Paris for your peace of mind. Trust me on this one. Despite what the media would tell you, you can enter, spend time in, and leave a Middle Eastern country with nary a run-in with Islamofascists. The fact that the opportunities for boozing and whoring are at an all time low in these countries is also pretty darn good for your ability to sleep, too.)

As the Commissar rightly points out, our criminals stay on death row for years, with very few actually being executed. We have people running the system who don't have to deal with death all that often, and who, it seems, are plagued with doubts. In America we worry about the individual. Our founding forefathers gave every individual rights that were to be honored, even if it means completely letting them off the hook for their crimes. This is our concept of what it means to serve the greater good. In Saudi Arabia, however, the greater good is served by executing someone swiftly if they're found guilty of murder. Different mindsets completely.

While I'm like the Commissar and approve of the death penalty in theory, it just seems our system works against the entire concept of putting someone to death for their crimes. I believe any number of individuals who have actually killed people would tell you that to be able to actually do the deed, you can't look at your intended victim as a human being. You have to lower them to the lowest common denominator to be able to kill them. They're not a person, but rather an obstacle, etc. How can we, as Americans, do this when our country is all about looking at the individual and seeing them for being just that? It's called working at cross-purposes, I believe.

If we could, as the estimable Ron White says, put in an "express lane," we'd have a punishment that provided a deterrant. What we have now, however, is anything but. But is that "American?" Well, I don't know. I'm an American and I think if you prove yourself to be such a waste of space that people have determined it's actually better to remove you from this planet, well, you probably deserve what you get, so I suppose it is. Yet...

But none of this means a damn right now, because the controversy swirling around the death penalty isn't about the worthiness of some people to live and breathe with the rest of us. It's about the worthiness of the people who sentence and carry out the punishment and if they can be trusted. Until we actually talk about whether or not it's right to take a life to prevent the deaths of many more we're not going to get anywhere on this one.

Posted by Kathy at December 14, 2004 10:26 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?