Warehouse A
Savage America
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The Capital Punishment Issue:

Murdering The Murderer

By James Donahue

Americans like to think they have evolved since the old days when teams of vigilantes held instant trials and hung horse thieves and alleged black rapists of white women from the nearest tree.

Indeed, we have become more refined at the way we arrest and convict, but the United States still remains high among the nations of the world that still execute convicted felons. Horse thieves usually don’t get the death penalty, but rapists who kill and anyone convicted of pre-meditated murder and especially the killing of innocent children and police officers end up on death row in most states of the union. And more black than white males appear to find their way to the modern killing rooms. It’s an ugly and barbaric practice.

We are happy to say that 14 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. They are Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The other states have maintained the death penalty, with some like Texas apparently operating almost assembly-line killings since the Supreme Court opened the door to capital punishment in America in 1976.

The issue has risen to national attention since Troy Davis was put to death in Georgia, in spite of new evidence suggesting that witnesses in his alleged fatal shooting of an off-duty police officer were coerced by police into fingering him as the shooter.

Capital punishment has been brought into the public spotlight because of the controversial presidential candidacy of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has presided over 235 executions, more than any other governor in any state in history. Many believe that some of the people put to death under Perry’s watch were wrongly convicted. They say Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed after being charged with setting fire to his house and killing his children, was later found innocent after it was determined that the fire was never a case of arson.

Groups like Amnesty International have been working hard to get the death penalty abolished in all 50 states. Opponents of capital punishment argue that new DNA testing has been used to prove the innocence of a number of people convicted of rape and murder cases. They argue that testimony by witnesses at the scene of any crime cannot always be trusted.

When we look at the practice of capital punishment around the world, it is shocking to realize just how barbaric the United States appears. We are the only nation in the Americas to conduct executions and we stand among the top five nations in the world in the number of people put to death each year.

The others are China, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.

So what does anyone gain by murdering the murderer? Is justice truly served? The violent act of killing the killer may appear to be the correct thing to do in the heat of the moment but does it really appease the victims of such heinous acts? If the truth were to be told, further acts of violence only create more victims.

We believe the old and outmoded religious dogmas that preach “an eye for an eye” have had a lot to do with the belief that capital punishment is correct justice for killers in the eyes of the Creator. After all it is so commanded in the Old Testament.

But who really recorded the old laws found in the Old Testament books? Did a mighty force really carve them in stone when it confronted Moses on the mountain or was that merely one of the many ancient myths that found their way into religious books from the shadowy past?

If an almighty God in the clouds really gave humanity these laws, then we also should be executing the adulterers, masturbators and fornicators in our midst. The Old Testament laws also issued a death penalty for men who are not circumcised, people who eat leavened bread, drink blood (or ate raw meat), commit blasphemy, practice forms of magic or spiritualism, or worship idols and other gods than Jehovah.

A lot of children would be sentenced to death for striking, cursing or just disobeying their parents or coming home drunk. If we stuck to those Biblical laws the way some fundamental Christians think we should, we fear that few contemporary children would have a chance to grow up.

There is one positive thought about all of this. If we followed all of the old laws to the letter we might quickly solve our problem of overpopulation. But then we would create another problem of disposing all the bodies.