Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why I’m Against the Death Penalty

Forget about the hundreds and hundreds of cases (that we know about) of prosecutorial misconduct that seem rampant in our legal system, where prosecutors are found to have actively hid exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated the suspect.

Forget about unreliable witnesses, and the occurrences of dishonest police officers that plant evidence to make sure the guy they “know” is guilty goes down for the crime. 

Forget about the fact that some people are just cur-dogs that deserve a bullet to the head and nothing more.

Forget all of that. 

I’m just not sure that a government that I don’t trust to do much of anything efficiently is a government that I should trust to have the ability to kill the citizens of its nation competently and correctly.

I’m also not sure I like the implications of the conversation that I had today where I pointed out the startlingly high rate of exoneration of people on death row (and I wasn’t talking “walked on a technicality, I was talking “fully innocent of all charges”) and the man, and several more people around us, responded that they thought it was okay if we occasionally executed an innocent man, because, hey, nobody’s perfect, and no system will be right 100% of the time, and the death penalty is there for the overall good of society.  You have to break an egg or two to make an omelet. 

I suggested that if they felt so strongly about it being necessary to execute an innocent person for the good of society and all, that they should volunteer to be next.  I asked them all if they would feel the same way if they happened to be the person caught up in the gears of the machine.  I asked them if they would be singing a happy tune in their heart as the executioner stuck the needle into their arm, because, hey, “good of society” and all. 

And the answer is that no one would.  It is perfectly simple and easy to suggest that innocent people need to be occasionally executed for the good of society, but much more difficult to suggest that you should be next, and I can not, for the life of me, understand how that isn’t just fucking evil. 

Can you? 

I, for one, don’t want to be executed by the government for something I didn’t do.  Because of this, I will not condone a system that would do exactly that to another man just because it is convenient to me.  And until we have a system that never does execute any man for something he did not do, I will stand in opposition to that system, forever.  I don’t care what public good the death penalty creates; it does not, nor will it ever, offset the harm that it causes to the innocent men who have surely been denied their lives as a result of its existence.  

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