Topics unpopular: my position on the death penalty is that it’s a moral option in a free democratic society. My reason for having to make this statement now will become apparent when I post my next entry, “SF Cop Killer”.
Most people will offer a strong, reflexive, ingrained opinion for or against the death penalty — based on gut feeling and/or arguments with which I usually have little quarrel. Far from not having taken a stand on this either way, I have strong convictions for both sides.
I don’t feel guilty about the inconsistency, and you shouldn’t either. The contradiction is not of our making. There are severe conflicts in the law, and the way in which it is applied in individual trials appears too often to be flawed and subject to processes that fall far short of blind impartial justice. I don’t have control over that and am not responsible for reconciling the inconsistencies of society.
On the one hand, I generally have no problem with the death penalty for a jury conviction for first degree murder. People often detest arguments that incarcerating inredeemably incorrigable killers for the rest of their life is expensive and a waste of the taxpayer’s money. I’m not one of those people.
On the other, we see in the newspapers too many documented cases of individuals convicted and sentenced to death or life imprisonment, who, after any number of years ranging up to the better part of a human lifetime, are found to have been wrongfully convicted. To kill even one innocent man to punish ten others is morally wrong.
Like many other Hobson’s Choices in society where “the right answer” will never bring justice until the process is fixed, I relate strongly to aspects of the positions traditionally taken by both sides.
My problem is with people who cannot listen to the other side at all, or who think the system is working fine now. It isn’t. Opponents and proponents of the death penalty both need to drop faith-based soapboxing and look at a legal overhaul of the entire sentencing and review procedure. Don’t blame me if it’ll never happen in our lifetime.
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