Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
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- Vista Blues
Wnen The EKG Goes Flatline...Was It Worth It?
"You're taking my life for your peace of mind? Well then LET'S GO...START THE SHOW!" --Accept, from the title track of "Death Row"
There are three concepts, I have found, that will turn a person's passions beyond reason and logic...Abortion, Gun Control, and Capital Punishment (four, if you count the Great Pumpkin). Each of these issues stir primal emotions just as hard now as they did for millenia-and-more.
Here in America, we do kill condemned murderers (currently, the only crime punishable by execution is Capital Murder or First Degree Murder with Special Circumstances, depending on the jurisdiction. Treason, especially after the Rosenberg executions, usually gets life w/o parole in a maximum-security Federal Prison). Not as many as the People's Republic of China, mind you, but many a condemned felon still meets their maker in the early-morning hours, courtesy of our judicial system.
Supporters cite Mosaic Law, economic savings, and retribution as reasons that our nation should retain-and-expand the death penalty. Opponents cite the New Testament, the Ten Commandments (#5 reads "Thou Shalt Not Kill" in the KJV version), abolition throughout most of Europe, and economic savings via a sentence of life w/o parole.
Expansion-and -contraction of the states that impose capital punishment tend to run in cycles. Currently, two states (New Mexico and New Jersey) have joined with the rest of the "No Death Penalty" states in shuttering both their death suites and condemned rows.
Of all the states that still use the death penalty (as do the Feds and the U.S. Military), Texas leads in not only total executions, but also in executions per year. Death in the Huntsville Walls Unit is by lethal injection...as it is in all but one of the states that still carry out the death penalty. Nebraska still has the electric chair legislated as it's method of judicial death.
Does execution serve as a deterrent? Get real...horrific homicides that merit execution still go on every day, even in states that are quick to do away with their condemned. Biblical justification? Mark Twain once remarked that any fool can prove anything by The Bible...and under Mosaic Law, executions were not all that common to begin with.
Economic benefits? Statistics can be cooked to serve any purpose, and a felon facing life w/o parole for a murder conviction still might get executed inside the prison...by his fellow inmates!
Retribution and revenge? There's a pair of reasons that we still have death penalty laws on the books. Back before the first civilization, a person who killed another person often faced getting killed by the victim's family. From this, we have the concepts of vendetta and blood feuds.
Upon the dawn of the first civilization, one of the powers the state reserved for itself was the one about life-and-death. And since any ruling government detests competition, unsanctioned murders (as opposed to killing in open warfare) were dealt with by killing the killer...hence, judicial executions.
The same principle applies even today. The state reserves the right to avenge murders by killing the condemned killer-in-question. The reality of many folks writing judicial systems that still use the death penalty for tickets to an execution in that state? You can either take it as a sign of the popularity of judicial-inflicted death--or that the persons requesting the tickets are in dire need of psychiatric care.
Would I watch an execution? I've seen people die before, and each death took a lot out of my soul. So, to that, I ask you this:
When the EKG goes flatline in a lethal injection execution you watched, was it really worth it?
You must answer for yourself that very question before you can truly say you'd go up to San Quentin to witness California's next lethal injection execution. For the true answer is known only to one---yourself!
More like this:
- No on Dead Men Walking: Ex-Con Millionaire Staging Celebrity Bash Against Capital Punishment — June 28, 2012
- Murder with Special Circumstances? — Feb. 22, 2012
- Is It A Closure--Or Merely An End? — Nov. 10, 2009
- Why do they call it "capital punishment" when referring to the death penalty? — Sept. 6, 2001
- What happened to the death row man that was forbidden to eat chips? — Oct. 21, 1999