Death and Justice In

Death and Justice

In my perfect world, we know who is guilty and who is not beyond a shadow of

a doubt. Because of this, there are no appeals. With that in mind, in this

perfect world I would support the death penalty. I would, in fact, support

the death penalty for a much wider range of violent crimes. Considering a

recent white-collar case where hundreds of people were taken for large

amounts of cash, causing one victim to commit suicide (sorry, can’t quote

sources; this is something I’ve seen at work and the details are

confidential), perhaps the death penalty would be applicable even there.

Is it about justice? No, not really. Is it about revenge? Sorry, I don’t

give a whit about revenge. It’s about hard choices, responsibility, and evil.

There are too many people on this planet. Far, far, far too many people. I

cannot fathom why, considering this fact, we should allow someone to live

who willfully damages society. Every life is not sacred. All humans

are not created equal. Why do we continue to labor under the misconception

that every human being is worth keeping alive?

For many reasons, we are afraid to choose.

Most of the people on this planet believe in a god, and we are loathe to

usurp his authority. We feel we don’t have the right to decide that one

human is more worthwhile than another. In slippery-slope land, this may

well be true; however, it’s pretty obvious from where I’m sitting that a

serial rapist has considerably less value to society than a concert

violinist. Provided, of course, that the violinist keeps his nose clean.

We are afraid of appearing heartless or elitist. This is a good social

mechanism that keeps us from being complete assholes to our fellow humans.

It becomes self-defeating when it runs counter to the greater good of


Finally, we do not, in any way, want the responsibility. The god we fear

will take care of it. We can ignore it and it will go away. Sometimes,

sometimes we can act in concert and vote, shifting the responsibility from

one set of shoulders to many.

We don’t see our responsibility to each other, and to the planet we live on,

and therefore we refuse to make the hard decisions. Someone else can live

without a car. Someone else can turn off the lights. Someone else can

refrain from having children. Someone else can kill the evil people.

Of course, the world is not perfect, and we don’t know who is evil and who

is not beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is in this unfortunate world that I

find myself frustratingly undecided about the death penalty. In principle,

yes. In current practice, it is a balance between hard decisions,

responsibility, and evil.

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