Friday, 16 March 2012

Death Penalty - Murder or Not?

As a human being, can we really justify the right to take someone else's life and if so, when did we get the power and authority to do so?

On one hand we all like to say 'thou shalt not kill' but on the other hand when push comes to shove we are the first to shoot the burglar who crosses our threshold, we are the first to coax the rape victim into having an abortion  (certain cultures will abort a child because it is female), we are the first to point the finger and shout death penalty for the person who has just murdered several people. In some countries you may be stoned to death for adultery without hardly any evidence against you.

We applaud the death of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussain justifying it by their horrific actions to human society, but how do we justify it when we send forth our soldiers to literally go out and kill? Let's pretend that any war is justified and each army can kill the other army, what do we then say about the innocent civilians being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Sorry!
What about the people flying off to Dignitas in Switzerland for assisted suicide? Should this be classed as murder? After all, it is one person giving another person a deadly dose of medication. Or do we see it as ok, and carefully justify it due to the person's serious illness?

I'm sure most of us have heard about cases where people were sentenced for crimes they stated they never committed, only for years later, sometimes with the help of DNA to find out that that person was actually innocent. Now what if we had already killed them? Do we financially compensate their loved ones, or do we graciously and openly say sorry?

One case is that of Edward Earl Johnson, executed via the gas chamber in 1987. Wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault of a white woman and for killing a police officer. A BBC documentary was made on this case called "14 days in May".  This documentary (well worth watching) won a british film award but unfortunately only an abbreviated version was shown in America which the director disapproved of. I wonder why!

The death penalty, whether it be by hanging, gas, lethal injection, stoning etc. has done nothing to deter or stop many of the violent crimes, because we can still see the prisons are bursting at the seams? home and abroad.
John Wayne Gacy
murdered and raped 33 men - lethal injection

Ted Bundy - aka The Campus Killer
murdered and raped many but only confessed to killing 30 women although authorities believed it was over 100 women, he kept the heads of some victims at his home to engage in necrophillia - electrocuted

Rodney Alcala
raped, murdered, sodomised, kidnapped victims- was on death row

It is very easy to condemn one to their death, but what we should also consider is, that one day it could be YOU or YOUR family member accused of a crime they did not commit and they too could end up on death row.

Feel free to comment and provide me with your suggestions on how to deal with this.


  1. I believe in the death penalty. Have there been false convictions, yes. Then you look to change the justice system. You look for changes of venue in cases of prejudice. DNA evidence is pretty solid. The rate of wrongful convictions is no where near what it was. You know what is up? The rate of reoffenders. People who should never be allowed out on the street but are then released contrary to their sentences, not because they are no longer a threat, but because jail overcrowding lowers the threshold for early release.

    How would I feel if a family member was wrongfully convicted, may as well ask me how I would feel if I won the lottery. About as likely. What is more likely? A member of my family to fall victim of a violent crime. Does the death penalty deter, of course not. Does it stop the dead from reoffending? Damn skippy. If people are in danger of being unjustly convicted, then it is time to look at our justice system. How is life in prison any less of an injustice? As for all the religious arguments: separation of church and state. Your religion should not interfere with justice for all.

    1. Even one wrongful conviction is one too many. I personally think death is too quick. Languishing in prison is a much better punishment for some.

  2. Death is Death, and we do not understand 'him'!
    As much as we do not understand Life.

    I am not against Death, as I am not against Life. They seem so interlaced that sometimes look like they are the same drapery

    On the other hand, we were very careful at the time to define "illegal" murder, careful in words that justify the rejection of the act, as if there are difference in action, as if there can be a "legal" murder, I think that to kill a human being is just the act of deprive the normal course of a life by a deliberate action.

    I am against that deliberate action!

    Also, from my viewpoint, to kill, legally or not. To apply death penalty or abortion. To forget our responsibilities to others. Any action that ends in a death, even if the action is not deliberate cannot be justified.

    But then again, I repeat, we do not understand Life or Death, we do not even know what it means to Die or to Live, so we want to measure it by consequences, but even then we do not know the ground we are walking on.

    All other human considerations, such as applying death penalty to the wrong person, or getting a loved one killed wrongly, go into the definition of wrongful killing has for us, humans, and that comes from long ago, when a member of the tribe was the most valuable possession the clan had. So this seems more a kind of need than an ethical situation.

    I may let emotions move me, but in this moment, with a cold head, I must recognize I am not having enough knowledge to use justice, if this thing exists, to give an educated opinion.

  3. Im stuck between Justice (eye for an eye)
    and the 6th commandment "thou shall not kill"

    1. Hi Clai
      Just a quick note to you while I prepare to wade into the discussion between Jamie & Untony - though I have the suspicion that I may find myself as welcome as a fart in a space-suit...
      I think the answer comes from looking at the target audience of the two commandments:
      While both statements are drawn from the Mosaic law - a set of instructions for the establishment of a theocratic system of government - one speaks to the individual and is aimed at stemming clan-vendettas and the other to the judiciary - the instrument of government aimed at providing an alternative means to addressing issues of justice, punishment and reparation.

    2. Clai
      I can see where your're coming from on this as well. Thanks.

  4. To my my mind using people having an abortion in the same breath as abortionakes me shut you down. All respect to you

    1. Hello Jamiessmiles!

      Not sure if you are answering me, but as I am the only one that speaks about abortion as a murder, I guess you refer to my comment.

      Also, I must confess, to my shame, if it is so, I did not understand your reflexion, though I appreciate your respect.

      Thank you!

  5. Murder and abortion in the same breath*. Damn, i hate how I lose my train of thought on my iPhone.

  6. Untony, do you really not get how a woman making her own choices about her body is not the same as murder? If so.... well, never mind the respect. Using the word murder as applies to abortion is trying to use emotion in place of a logical argument. That is why I shut you down. If that is the whole of your argument it is neither well thought out, knowledgeable, or, in fact, reflective of any compassion to the only human being in the equation at all.

    1. Thank you, jamiessmiles, for you answer and clarification!

      Undoubtedly, there is a sea of ways for understanding things in a heart, or from my viewpoint, in a mind.

      I can follow your reasons and I respect your ways, as I seem to remember, one thing you told me the first time you wrote to me was "I will thank you not to talk with knowledge about what is inside MY heart".

      And I must recognize the truth in that statement, with the proviso of being a two ways avenue.

      If you think that killing, abortion, and murder are different words, it is your right!

      If you think that the right of a woman to make choices about her body has primacy over anything else, it is also your right!

      Now, when you are talking about logical argument, there is a small problem, unless, your definition of the word logical roamed into some unknown field to me. Or we use different equations to solve the problem

      All the statements you put in your last sentence can be perceived as personal and emotional since, again, we seem not to be in line with the definition of 'human being'.

      So you see, I may not agree to all these ways, but I believe in my right to state so clearly and civilly; anyway I am not against those, like you, think otherwise, although I refuse to define any of those beliefs.

      In the last instance, each human being will decide with total free will, what to do, and how to act when facing these issues! It is our responsibility and our right.

      Thank you for a neat and clear interchange of ideas.

    2. I did warn you that I was shutting it down to not be disrespectful, you ask for clarification which I sad as respectfully as possible while still remaining true to my thoughts. Man up, dude. You are deliberately using inflamitory language, you can;'t get your nose up in the air when people take offense to it. AND BTW, I found that EXTREMELY uncivil.
      I do not choose to believe abortion, murder and killing are not the same thing. I own a dictionary. I do not feel the need to re-define words, I prefer the clarity of using the same English as everyone else.
      Murder:the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).

      Killing: the act of a person or thing that kills.
      I have killed. I have personally held the needle that caused the death of an animal. I've also witnessed several abortions. Abortion is getting rid of tissue, much different from killing, much different than the death of a living being.

      Where all murder includes the killing of another, not all killing is murder (as murder is a legal term)

      Abortion: Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
      any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.
      Also called spontaneous abortion. miscarriage ( def. 1 ) .
      an immature and nonviable fetus.

      Calling abortion murder is making a judgement on those having abortion, calling them in fact criminals. I'm sorry if you think calling you on it makes me disrespectful. Nxt time I tell you I am holding out, make sure you got the stones to hear before you ask for clarification

      OH, BTW one last definition:
      Human beings become legal persons after a live birth, as they draw first breath (for now anyway, fingers crossed on my part that they forever stay that way)But when the definitions change you can rest assured I will change the way I use the word accordingly. I personally feel it is respectful to try to use language in a clear way to avoid confusion.

    3. I agree you are not disrespectful. You state your beliefs in a strong way, that's all

      You assume I am using deliberately inflammatory language, but I am not doing it, not deliberately, not inflammatory. Please, believe me, I am trying to express ideas clearly. There is no point in being inflammatory and less yet deliberately.

      I just write what I think, in no way trying to be extremely uncivil, and never criticizing or judging other viewpoints, less yet people.

      Maybe my work, that constantly makes me travel around the world, has changed my English, I do not know. But even so, there are few points in defining words. What is really important (and this is just from my side, so there are other ways to understand it, it is clear I am not doing a fixed truth of it) is not to define persons by their ideas, there is a vast difference between them.

      We may agree or disagree and that is it. It is your right, and it is mine.

      I do not get the reason for your hard statements, but I am surely accepting your right to express your ideas as you think fit.

      I admire your eagerness to make everything crystal clear. Unfortunately, my experience in the world is that we may be convinced we have Truth on our side, but sometimes there are more gray colors than black or white, and Truth seems to live in a deep pit so it is somewhat difficult to reach it.

    4. @ Jamie and Untony
      I tried to add a response to the discussion you are having, but it's come up in the wrong place.
      Please see further down...

  7. I do think that the both of you have put your finger on the fountainhead of the entire abortion issue. Is what is being aborted a human being? We all started out a foetuses and and at some point became human. So when did this take place?

    Some questions I would like to put on the table:

    Is it at the point of birth? In which case a piece of tissue becomes a person from one day to the next, going from being property of the mother to an individual with rights.
    I find it hard to accept that an overdue baby is less human than the one that is given birth to at 9 months on the dot. Or that the premature baby becomes human before a full term one.

    Let's consider 3 cases. All conceived 8 months and 25 days ago.
    Baby one has already been born premature, born at 8 months, therefore a 25 day old human.
    Baby two will go full term and so will not be human for another few days.
    Baby three will be overdue by two weeks and so will become human even later still.
    Yet all conceived at the same time and therefore equally developed.

    I don't raise this to be facetious but to show how the ground can appear to move beneath our feet when we approach this issue.

    Do we base it on law? If so then we have a situation where a piece of tissue can become human just by virtue of crossing the Irish sea, because in the UK abortion is legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy but in Northern Ireland, abortion is still illegal.

    Is it at the point when survival is viable outside the womb? In which case advances in modern medicine have shifted the boundaries of what constitutes a human being by developing incubators and technology which mean that premature babies are able to survive earlier and earlier.

    Let's look at the figures as they stand today:

    Infant Survivability Rates by gestational week-
    Up until 21 weeks: 0% survival rate
    at 22 weeks: 0-10% survival rate
    at 23 weeks: 10-35% survival rate
    at 24 weeks: 40-70% survival rate...

    So here in England pregnancies are being terminated when, outside the mother the baby (Because having been born it would be considered as such) would have had a 40-70% chance of surviving. Hence 40-70% of those being terminated at this stage would be human!

    This is not to mention the stages at which electrical activity first sparks in the brain, or the foetus shows sensitivity to pain, or begins to move, kick, suck its thumb etc.

    With human life at stake I would err on the side of caution and, within my ethical framework, place abortion along the spectrum of definitions comprised by the term murder.
    Although, Jamie, I do recognise that I may not have either the law or dictionary on my side I really hope to have shown that I have approached this rationally and have raised some reasonable concerns.

    1. Hello Shiloh!

      I know you say in a jocular frame you will not be welcome to the talk Jamie and I are having, but I must tell you that it is not so, on the contrary, the idea is to get a good subject and hammer it out of its smugness, if subject can have smugness!

      I guess I have few differences with your viewpoint, as in everything human, we seem to have yet some shreds of the famous apple into our teeth that do make us to understand Good and Evil in a slanted way. I am sure there will be many persons thinking as I do and as many (or more) as Jamie does. This shows our inability to understand the meaning, the "real meaning", of many things. One of them is "human being", other is the act to apply death to something or someone who we are not able to define in perfect accord yet. And the list grows into infinity

      I like to think that Humankind will find the way to the other tree that was closed by the flaming sword, and learn to put in effect what has learned from the first tree, but it would take many eons since the warping is almost infinite.

      I am using this allegory just as a way to express an idea not to add an issue into the discussion.

      Thank you for the information you add in your post, it is extremely interesting as it shows how even passing law, humans cannot agree from a country to another. Also, I agree if a human life is at stake I would err on the caution side.

  8. Hi all of You.

    I believe death penalty for vicious crimes is like a gift given to accused. We already know that death is a certain thing. Giving death penalties is never going to create enough fear among antisocial elements. What they really fear is remorse.

    Now remorse can only work if "accused" is given a confinement where he can't run from his deeds, something which would make him feel "What if i had not killed"

    So the basic question is "Is our government strong enough to confine a person, can the jails held the prisoner for life". Now different countries should just question their own power because I believe that the countries which allow death penalty are actually weak ones and live too much in fear.

    The countries which doesn't give death penalties but risks even their peace for "Humanity" i.e would symbolize "Remorse" in this case are actually the powerful ones.

    1. Welcome Abhishek, and thanks for your different viewpoint on this.

  9. Jamie, Untony and Shiloh
    I would like to say 'thank you' for all your valid comments which I have been carefully reading. Although there are opposing views, the points made have been very interesting and informative.

    Death is final to me. There is no coming back once that last breath has left our bodies. It's easy for me to oppose the death penalty when it's not my loved ones that was murdered. It's easy to oppose abortion when it was not me that was raped. It's easy to oppose assisted suicide when I'm not suffering from an illness that would cause me to have a horrific slow death. BUT to be honest to myself, I'm not 100% sure if I would have the same views if the 'boot was on the other foot'. Shifting sand.

    1. With a lot less words than I used, Rum, you put the case in the right perspective.

      I tried to say something near that when I wrote: In the last instance, each human being will decide with total free will, what to do, and how to act when facing these issues! It is our responsibility and our right.

      Thank you for lending space to fume out our ideas.

    2. I am for life. But when I heard stories of rape especially among children, I tend to think otherwise. It's an abomination.

    3. Littleyana
      I'm now playing 'devils advocate' here. I hear what you are saying BUT would you then agree with giving the death penalty to youths (under the age of 18) who have murdered, rape, tortured, shot and stabbed other youths? or do you say, they should live because they are under-aged and the death penalty is only for the older person?

    4. Untony
      Thanks, I just want people to feel free to express their opinions in a safe space.

    5. Rum-Punch
      In my case, the boot was on the other foot. A beloved friend was murdered. In this case, there was no doubt regarding the identity of the killer, who pled guilty and received a life sentence (but died of natural causes less than two years later). At the time, people asked me if I thought the death penalty would be justified. If killing the killer would have magically brought my friend back to life, then I would have been willing to pull the switch myself. But in the real world, it would have accomplished nothing of value. I didn't really care much what happened at that point, as long as the killer was removed from society. Even so, I felt a sense of relief when I heard that the killer had died. But my experience did not make me an advocate of the death penalty. I still have very mixed feelings about it. Certainly, people who have committed horrific crimes of torture and murder have forfeited their own right to live. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we should assume the responsibility for killing them. Killing another person is a deeply serious matter that cannot be undone, and for all but the most depraved, it leaves a mark on the soul.

    6. Sorry for you loss Rosemary. I have never experienced this situation myself so I don't know how I would feel if the exact same scenario happened to me. I admire the fact that although you felt a sense of relief when the killer died, it did not make you an advocate the death penalty. I'm also glad that you didn't end up becoming a hateful, unforgiving and revengeful person because of what took place. Murder is a very difficult thing to come to terms with for many people.

      Thank you so much for participating here.

  10. Interesting conversation and my pointwiew to it is that though death penalty does not remove the violence from the society and is an "easy way out" for the ones accused of vicious crimes, it still would be good one for some maniacs who kill rape and torture others among them and repeat such behaviour after breaking free from prison.

    Only rare people committing very cruel and vicious crimes are able to feel any remorse or are ever going to change. It is very expensive to sustain such person's life in prison for the rest of their life with tax money of the government.

    And personally I don't want to pay and support with my duty the living of someone who has raped and murdered many people.

    Governments of the states have lots of more reasonable and more important non-profit expenditures.

    And what comes to abort I'm definitely not considering it as 'murder'. Personally I don't want to have kids and if accidentally I became pregnant I think I have the right not to take such huge responsibility and such huge expences of raising and supporting a kid if I'm not wanting to have any.

    Just because I'm a woman I don't have to give a birth though there is always the risk of pregnansy even when using prevention.

    1. Hi Amethyst

      I hope you don't mind me expressing an opposing view here. But I see the situation in this way. From when you have a life growing inside you, you have a responsibility. Either to raise and nurture or to kill. Choosing to terminate that life is to take just as much responsibility as to choose to bring him/her to term.

      If a couple aren't prepared to assume the responsibility for taking a child, they shouldn't be having sex.
      Though nowadays a person is seen as a sort of monster for saying such things, before the sexual revolution generations of our ancestors would have seen it this way.

  11. Serious business. Instead of death penalty i prefer work colony.

    1. Hmmm... I like the way your mind works...

  12. Hi Shiloh
    Well true in some and you are totally justified to have your opinion but I'm finding the sexuality as a natural need for human being and a great enjoyment which's only purpose definitely is not to have descendants though it contais the risk of pregnancy even with preventation.

    And I'm also tending to be more rational than emotional...If people would still think like our ancestors (who probably had that mentality for not having the change of preventation) world would be seriously overpopulated. It already starts to be even though the preventation is invented and a million business.

    And I think it's more cruel to give a birht than not to for a child if you don't want to have him/her. World already has too many unwanted kids...who even are born in very unfavourable conditions in addition to being unwanted...and those kids unfortunately very rarely are living useful and meaningful live and even more rarely happy life at any happy standard.

    I have a personal history of being an unwanted kid and I was clearly pointed that out. I don't wish anyone would have that fate.

  13. Hi Amethyst

    Not to comment on the other things you say here, as I feel I have had my say and you have respected this. But I would just like to add one point.

    As I was reading what you wrote about the limited potential of 'unwanted' children to have 'useful' and 'meaningful' lives, I have to admit that my mind went straight to the previous comments by you on this blog. Then as I read on you said it yourself.

    Would you really not want to have existed? Do you really think the world would be or would have been better off without you? I would ask RumPunch the same question.

    I repeat what I have said to you before. You have walked a difficult road and can now help others who struggle. But what if someone had decided for you "her road will be too hard. I won't let her walk it". Would that really have been the right choice? Sincerely, I don't think so.

    I hope your life continues to improve and be more and more worthwhile. Something to celebrate. But I also hope that as you celebrate you will realise the value of all life, including the ones that grow out of less than ideal circumstances.

  14. I personally believe that no man has the right to choose whether another man can live or die. How does quick and painless killing of a criminal profit the families of the victims? Wouldnt life imprisonment be a more fitting crime? At the same time however, I dont know what it feels like to have someone taken from me in that way (and I hope I never will).
    In any case, the death penalty is a controversial issue and will remain so for years to come.

    1. Thanks Kyle
      Yes, we must also consider the families, not only of the victims but also of the 'alleged perpetrators, as I don't believe for one minute that every person killed via the death penalty was guilty.

  15. Shiloh I knew you would ask that question of me after my last comment and I can tell you that many times as I was a kid I wished that I was not existing and almost ended up kiling myself, for my existence felt so hurtful and pointless since not having my father's approval though I did my best to get it. My mother genuinely wanted to have me, but my father...he wanted to make a kid with my mother just to chain my mother into his hold more tightly and to get a perfeckt defenceless target to pour his bitterness anger and all the negative feelings into so he didn't need to deal with them, as a narcist never does. I was born to be a pawn in my fathers sick mindgame of ruling and subordinate others surrounding him.

    At least my mother wanted for real to have me and loved me and I was born here in finland into a bourgeois family having proper education chanse, food and clothing, having the toys and the game-consoles etc.

    I do appreciate life but, having kids just to reject them after giving birth or having kids for ill willed reasons is wrong. And definitely better not to happen.

    And all the aids mothers in Africa or the Thai prostitutes getting pregnant who are about to give birth and then leave their kids orphan on the streets ... I do deeply think for those kids it would better not to be even born when there's no one to guide and support them no one to feed and to clothe them.

  16. No one has the right to take the life of a person except the one who created it.

    What's the purpose of killing a criminal? How is the victim going to benefit from criminal's death? There have been instances where criminals changed their mindset and became 'good' after being kept in dark prison for many years. Isn't it a far-better option?

    In short, I oppose death penalty.

    Dhaston Rosary

  17. Dhaston Rosary
    Thanks for participating. Many people have changed their whole manner of life after many years, and have not only become good citizens in this world but also role models to others. They have succeeded in deterring others from crime. Good point.

  18. I don't like the death penalty. I think I may be a hypocrite in this regard though. If someone were to murder/rape/maim/severely harm one of my boys -- well, they probably wouldn't make it to the trial. I would be on trial. I can only imagine the degree of harm one befall the individual who would dare to harm one of my little ones.

    1. that should have been would, not one. Maybe I should proof-read my comments more often!

    2. I guess you are just being honest with your thoughts. Many people have firm points of views but when it comes down to protecting their children or loved ones, they will give their life to do so. Thanks for your comment Nattie, it's ok about the error, I knew what you meant :)


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