April 28, 1995

The Death Penalty

He isn't worth the powder to blow him to hell.

Old saying

In the days before governments or laws or any of the trappings of what is euphemistically called civilization, when someone killed someone else, his relatives would kill him. Well, at least they tried. If they were successful, the killer's relatives would, in their turn, snuff them. This would go on and on until very few members of those two clans were left --and a good thing it was too! It left the food for the peaceful people. In theory at least, the meek did inherit the earth. Despite this selection process, there were enough strong and vicious people left over to make it uncomfortable for the non-violent.

The advent of laws arranged it so that killing a killer was an impersonal thing done by the government. The only way that I know that you can take revenge on the government -aside from blowing up a government building- is to not pay your taxes; if you can get away with it.

Murder is still a never-fail method of getting rid of real or imagined enemies, provided that you can get away with it -and some can.

Some old fashioned Christians believe that Christianity means practicing the doctrine preached by Jesus, which included "love thine enemy." Eventually, many Christian countries abolished the killing of murderers. There were a few exceptions. Norway made an exception in the case of Vidkun Quisling, their own home grown Nazi. Much of Europe no longer executes murderers. They imprison them for life.

When someone shoots someone and the police shoot him, I cheer. No, I don't approve of the police taking the law into their own hands, but killing someone who is pointing a gun at you seems to me to be a reasonable course of action. Shooting the gun out of his hand is something that only happens in the very old westerns.

If someone intentionally kills someone, he deserves to die. I shed no tears for a dead killer. I don't even care if he is too dumb to have known that what he did was wrong. Nor do I care if he was crazy, or under the influence of drugs; he still deserves to die.

I do object to someone being killed for a crime that he didn't commit. But mostly, I object to people spending massive amounts of my money to kill a killer, when you could put him in jail for the rest of his life for a fraction of the cost, thus saving the taxpayer money and insuring that an innocent person isn't executed.

As the O.J. Simpson trial graphically illustrates, it takes a hellofalot more money to just attempt to execute, or even to imprison, a rich person. I'm sure that it must have happened, but I can't recall a single case of a rich man being executed. Lawyers can stall the process until the killer dies of old age. I have no sympathy for a killer because he is poor, anymore than because he is rich. The act itself calls for punishment. That is what the word "justice" is supposed to mean.

During World War II, General Eisenhower decreed the death penalty for rape. There were lots of rapes, as there always are in a war. I recall that two men were executed -both black.

I am not opposed to capital punishment on moral grounds. I am opposed to it on fiscal grounds. It is just too damned expensive. It is ridiculous to spend a fortune to kill someone when that money could be used to a greater advantage to make restitution to the victim, or to try to save the lives of the deserving.

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