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Civilized Murder

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By John Pawlak

The death penalty recently topped the daily news headlines. A couple weeks ago, it was “D.M.”, who in 1989 kidnapped, raped, sodomized and murdered 22-year-old Joy Stewart (who was 30 weeks pregnant) by slashing her throat.
The drug which terminated D.M.’s life took more than 15 minutes. This was seen by many people as “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Yeah, I know. I had the same thought.
Recently, headlines have been inundated with “D.T.,” the self-proclaimed jihadist who, with his brother, orchestrated the bombing terrorist attack in Boston on April 15, 2013.
Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard were killed by the blasts. Another 264 people were severely injured.
It is with strong (and usually long) emotion that people debate the death penalty. In fact, I’ve seen people nearly kill each other while arguing it.
Since the United States Supreme Court’s 1976 decision to allow capital punishment, the United States has executed more than 1300 people. Interestingly, only 12 of them were women.
With so many male-dominated arenas being invaded by competitive women, it’s nice to know we men are still better at something, eh?
The arguments for and against capital punishment both have merit. And both are equally without logic at times.
“The death penalty is the best deterrent against crime!” Really? Back in the dark ages, people were drawn and quartered for minor crimes and yet crime flourished. In some countries, you can be publicly beheaded and yet they still have crime.
I guess if the temptation is strong enough, some people just lose their heads.
Conversely, people argue, “The death penalty costs too much. It’s cheaper to let them live.” The people who make this argument are the very ones who made capital punishment expensive. Appeals can keep a person on death row for more than 20 years, all at the expense of the taxpayer.
It would be cheaper to send them to college.
That’s not a bad idea. Send them to Southern University at New Orleans and force them to major in “Sociological Studies of Naked Mole Rats.” With an annual 4 percent graduation rate, their stay there would probably exceed the typical “life sentence” imposed in prisons.
OK, back to the death penalty.
The essential problem with the debate is that it’s almost impossible to separate jurisprudence from emotional revenge.
For example, when someone sexually assaults and kills a child, it’s hard to not want to stick a lit road flare up his behind and toss him into an open pit of scorpions.
As much fun as this would be (speaking from experience), this would be retributive rather than corrective or proportionate. The “eye for an eye” argument implies secular justice that is equitable, with the extent of punishment determined by the extent of the crime. It’s not supposed to be about revenge.
I was prompted to question my own stance on capital punishment after reading about Mr. “D.T.”, the Boston bomber whose name I refuse to write. He gets enough press and I’m sick of hearing his name.
Should they hang him? Shoot him? Fry him?
Or should they let him live out his pathetic life in jail, solitude, a concrete slab for a bed, surviving on bread and water?
The suggestions by readers on the news sites are creative, to say the least.
Whatever the outcome, he’ll be alive for many more years to come, fed each day, given medical treatment, kept warm in the winter months and all on our tax dollars.
So where do I stand? Well, I’m against capital punishment.
It’s hard to make a comfortable argument for government sponsored executions, but that’s a good thing. It shouldn’t be easy to chant, “Kill him! Kill him.”
It should be painful and difficult to support authorizing our government to murder someone. It should be mind wrenching to want to kill someone and pass it off as judicatory wisdom.
Truthfully though, I won’t lose sleep if they execute “D.T.” Any decent human being would want to bathe after being in the same room as that scum.
But whatever the final decision, it should be made with calm thought-out consideration. We shouldn’t be uncivilized savages like him and his brother.