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|This page is a record of constructive responses to my essay The Death Penalty - A Balanced Debate and for general comment and debate on the death penalty.|
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Section 1: Latest comments
I think the possibility that a person may suffer the ultimate penalty for serious crimes, and the occasional execution of someone for a horrible crime, are important parts of the civil compact that holds our society together. This is equivalent to saying that most people think the death penalty is fair and moral and therefore also think that a society with the death penalty is a fairer and more moral society.
Just as the taking of life by military action should be a last resort and only undertaken when one has exhausted all other possibilities, so capital punishment should only be considered if there are no possible alternatives. In fact, life imprisonment is a perfectly viable alternative and should therefore be adopted instead.
I have a comment about a very poor analogy used in the essay that is relevant to an observation about the desensitization to the reality of death that I perceive in our society. In the essay, the death penalty was analogized to sexism in the workplace - you don't toss out the underlying "moral" premise, you just fix what needs fixing. The problem with this analogy is that, if remediation of the sexist workplace proves to be too, difficult, too cumbersome, or simply impossible, the intended victim can simply walk out the door in self-righteous indignation. Sexism does not kill! Maybe this example was utilized in an effort to put the debate into a more real-life context, but the practical effect of introducing such logic into this debate is to dissuade people from contemplating the issue in its most somber and final terms. A comment from one of the relatives of the Oklahoma City bombing who viewed the execution of Timothy McVeigh is noteworthy on this point. In an interview immediately following the execution, while describing the execution itself, this family member said that Timothy McVeigh gasped and then "went to sleep." Timothy McVeigh did not go to sleep, he died. In debating this issue, and to protect the integrity of such debate, I think it is imperative to call a spade a spade.
Response: The analogy was indeed used to provide an example with which people might be more familiar, however I did not wish to detract from the seriousness of the debate. In fact, the seriousness of the death penalty is a key issue. Perhaps the death penalty is so serious it's defects in equality cannot be accepted.
We are obliged to tolerate sexism in the work place (while at the same time working against it) because the workplace must exist. It is not necessary to have a death penalty and therefore we are able to remove it if we feel that the inequalities are too great.
I am only for the death penalty if it is 100 percent certain. I was reading the comments before mine and disagree with comment 4. I think that we have exhuasted every other alternative and that is why we are were we are now. If you think about it, it may be barbaric, but other countries don't have as high of crime as we do. When people steal they get their had cut off and when they rape they get the same thing done to them. And when they murder they to are "murdered" which obviously is the death penalty. What they have in other countries apart from the US is fear. And that is what keeps them from commiting a crime. People hear have no fear because we don't inforce it like we should. If we get the point across that you should think about what will happen to you if you do something there will be less crime. My view is that if it gets put across that criminal behavior is not acceptable than that will lower it.
Surely the flaw in the above comment is that we can never be 100% certain about anything. Also, what about all the countries in the world which do not have the death penalty but also have a lower murder rate than the US.
Section 2: Response to a response
Section 3: Responses to Timothy McVeigh's execution
Section 4: Previous comments
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