Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Capital Punishment is the Ultimate in Hypocrisy.

After reading, "Expedience no reason to kill a man" in the Miami Herald I thought who are we to decide if someone should live or die?

Are we not just as guilty as the murderer we are putting to death when we calculate down to the last minute how and when he should take his last breath?

When we make these decisions we cannot be sure that person is guilty of the crime he is being executed for with 100% certainty. We are not sure if that person will die a cruel and torturous death. We are not sure of anything but our own self- righteousness.

Study after study has proved that the death penalty is not an effective crime deterrent nor does it save on cost.

Martin O'Malley, of The Washington Post in his article, "Why I Oppose the Death Penalty" reports in 2005, the murder rate was 46 percent higher in the states that had the death penalty than in states without it. Since 1990 the murder rate has declined by 56 percent in states without the death penalty but only 38 percent in states that have it. From these statistics, it would seem that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and may possibly increases the crime rate.

The premeditated execution of a man, any man, heinous as he may be, is incommensurable with what he is being executed for the simple reason that we are a civilized society and civilized people do not kill other people.

The irony is many of the people who fight for capital punishment are the same ones that claim they trust God implicitly... yet they cannot trust God enough to decide how and when the fate, of what they believe He created, should be.

Who gives any man the right to play God?

On a personal level, I know I would want to murder anyone that killed someone I loved, but my emotional state is not relevant when deciding the fate of the person accused of killing my loved one. Laws exist to make us think twice before acting or reacting, in other words, laws exist to protect us from ourselves and our all too human reactions and desires.

We all have blood on our hands whether it is directly, or indirectly. We may not have pulled the trigger, or plunged the knife but at the same time many of us couldn't be bothered to take a minute out of our busy schedules to reflect upon the impact our policies have on those around the world, or the effect our Justice system has on the lives of those not as fortunate. If we did, we would see that many of our policies and laws often protect only those who can afford it… that justice, in reality, is often times a luxury that a good percentage of us cannot afford.

Hiding behind the pretense of morality and justice and the fa├žade of righteousness does not make taking the life of another more palatable. If anything, the opposite is true because we are supposed to be "superior" to the heinous murderer and know better.

The number one champion of the death penalty is George W. Bush. We don't have to look very hard to see beyond his poorly constructed disguise. In fact, his disguise is transparent. This so-called Christian is the same elected official who holds the record for most executions in American History; who is ultimately responsible for the death and injury of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, including our own soldiers; who seemed indifferent to the poor souls who didn't have the resources to escape Katrina; who slashed and is slashing social programs for the poor to line the pockets of his friends and associates that already have enough money to buy whole nations if they so desire.

Yet, these high and mighty souls (Bush and friends) have had silver-spoon fed childhoods, their biggest concern growing up being which tie to wear to "Buffy's" grand entrance into high society. Whereas, the childhood concerns of many of the men on death row revolved around whether a ricochet bullet would stop them in their tracks on their way to school, or whether Mom would choose to spend the little money they had snorting a line of coke rather than putting food on the table.

Many of these men on death row grew up enveloped in an environment of violence, scarcity, abuse and chaos. This is no excuse for what they have done but it provides us with an understanding of what may have lead to their cruel and heinous crimes. Some of these men, who will pay with their lives may have only committed the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not having the money to prove it because they were born into the wrong set of circumstances.

Meanwhile, people that are guilty of far greater crimes than most who face state sanctioned execution, will not only escape punishment, they will continue to prosper because they were lucky enough to be born into families of wealth and power. They will be protected from facing any of the consequences of their behavior because of their status in society.

If the people in power, the ones who make the laws, and the "upstanding" citizens are not above planning the execution of another person, we are sending a strong message that murder is acceptable as long as you think you have a good reason. Capital punishment does nothing but assist in creating an atmosphere of violence which if anything, accelerates the crime rate.

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