Tuesday, October 25, 2005

capital punishment part 4

forget everything else i said about capital punishment. it's all filler. it all supports and reinforces the system in effect. arguments of innocence only justify a system that kills the guilty. arguments of race and class distinction only justify a system that kills with equality. arguments of money will only set up a system that kills more cost efficiently. arguments of life without parol only set up a system that takes longer to kill. all these arguments miss the point.

so what is the point? why is capital punishment wrong? the answer is in capital punishment. the answer is in why we want these people to die.

capital punishment exists because we believe there is something special in human life. a right to life. when someone commits murder, they deprive a person of her essential right. we say no! to murder because we say yes! to life.

the problem is that capital punishment denies the very thing we were affirming. the death penalty denies an essential human right to life. it denies the universal human right to life by claiming that some people do not have this, that it does not apply to them. by doing so, we devalue humanity by denying that a person necessarily has this right to live. instead, the value of a human life is not essential, but is decided by others. humanity becomes arbitrary and meaningless.

the death penalty claims that human life is nothing special. it denies the very thing it is supposed to be affirming. it's a hypocritical lie.

arguments against capital punishment need to do more than say "no!" it needs to cry a resounding "yes!" the fight against the death penalty needs to accompany a fight for life, an affirmation for the universal right of humanity. without this affirmation, the fight only leads to further injustices against humanity.

the cries of no and yes should not stop at capital punishment. the affirmations of humanity should push us fight against other institutions that deny the rights of humanity, particularly the prison system. this is however a much larger and much more complicated issue, so i'm going to end it here right now.


  1. The Silent Observer10/26/2005 2:28 PM

    Doesn't make sense. How does a murder have the right to take innocent life and keep his own guilty life? It's not fair.

    I venture to say that as soon as you exercise your choice to take another's life, you lose the right to your own. Whether by execution or life in prison (same thing).

  2. what is fair? if fairness and justice demands that we need to start killing eachother, then i think we need to start thinking about what fairness and justice is.

    by claiming that one can lose their right to live, you are saying that it is an arbitrary right that is not necessary or essential to humanity. it becomes something that is merely bestowed upon and removed by others.

  3. The Silent Observer10/26/2005 8:15 PM

    by claiming that one can lose their right to live, you are saying that it is an arbitrary right

    Only as arbitrary as walking down the wrong street in South Central L.A. at night. Unfortnately, some humans are murders. By claiming that we cannot execute or put away for life a Southside Crip for killing someone over a pair of Nikes, you're saying that his right to life is greater than that of his victim, simply because he is the last one standing.

    The nature of the universe is such that life is something that is merely bestowed upon and removed by others, whether you like it or not.

  4. murders are the act. murderers are the people committing the murders.

    you're saying that his right to life is greater than that of his victim, simply because he is the last one standing.

    i'm not saying that at all! i'm saying that all humans have the equal and universal right to live.

    The nature of the universe is such that life is something that is merely bestowed upon and removed by others, whether you like it or not.

    but the right to maintain that life is not arbitrary. that is why you want a murderer to die... because (s)he violated that right.

  5. i used to believe in capital punishment, but i don't anymore. Not because of any philosophical horse shit, but because of common sense. I asked myself the question: Could I personally put someone to death? My answer is that unless there was an immediate danger to me or someone I love, I couldn't kill anyone, nor would I want to. It seems that anyone who favors the death penalty, should be willing to pull the trigger or pull the switch themselves. I know I wouldn't do it. Let the raping and murderous assholes rot in prison, because it is a tad hypocritical to murder someone for the crime of murdering someone.

  6. someone that murders violates anothers right to live. why shouldn't that person be given the same treatment? If it were my job, and I knew the person had been proven guilty beyond measure, I could pull the trigger or switch. Save this world more grief and alot of taxpayer money.

  7. The Silent Observer10/27/2005 9:59 AM

    Could I personally put someone to death?

    This is my only hang-up with capital punishment. I think the idea of government should be that you delegate certain inherent rights you have to the state who can carry them out more efficiently. For example, instead of staying up all night with a shotgun to defend my apartment, I pay taxes into the local police dept. who take care of it for me. Therefore, we cannot delegate any rights to the government which we don't have ourselves, and so even though I think a murderer should die, I don't have the right to take it upon myself to balance the scales of justice, and therefore I can't rightly delegate that duty to the government.

    However, our government assumes rights that are not delegated to it every day of the week; for example, when they steal from the rich to feed the poor through welfare programs. So if the government can assume certain rights above that of its citizens to serve a greater good, then I can see them assuming a right to perform capital punishment, too.

  8. QUESTION...can any of this relate to prison or any form of punishment. If i steal a piece of bread, or hurt a child...should i be hurt or confined to a four walled cell? If I kidnap and take away the liberty of one person, can that liberty be taken from me?

    I havn't been paying a whole lot of attention, but this is a thought.ot

  9. chris,

    as the last line of my post says, this argument will ultimately lead to an argument against imprisonment... something that also needs to go, but there is a lot i still don't know to be able to respond to that. too much i still need to think through

  10. The Silent Observer10/28/2005 2:58 PM

    Obviously the answer is yes, we can put people in cages for stealing, etc. as the logical extension of the same philosophy. It's important that the punishment fit the crime, and also that the criminal is rehabilitated in the process. Jail can straighten you out.

    If you take The Narrator's perspective to its logical extension, a world where criminals can act with impunity, I suppose there's nothing wrong with that idea in theory, but it fails miserably in practice. It's getting to the place where the line between philosophy and B.S. is a bit fuzzy.


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