I mostly self identify as a Liberal. Contrary to popular belief I am not offended by everything that is deemed politically incorrect but I am on the left with most of the key issues: gay rights, abortion, funding for social programs, thinking its not cool for cops to killed unarmed black men. You know, that sort of stuff. But one thing where I can’t just jump on board the L Train (not NYC’s/JLo’s) is the opposition to capitol punishment. For some reason this makes me an uneducated dullard, a vengeful mouth breather, or a run of the mill imbecile compared to my enlightened liberal friends. That’s okay, I’m not convinced that I’m wrong or that I’m right, or that there is a correct answer, but feel free to keep convincing me in the most patronizing ways possible. “What you don’t understand is…” No, what you don’t understand is I still think they should kill the mother fuckers. Full disclosure: Yes I am from Boston and no I don’t think there is anything wrong with executing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But this isn’t anything personal. I promise. Whether it’s a mass murderer who killed and maimed my fellow Bay Staters or “The Joker” who decided a Colorado movie theatre was equivalent to a shooting range, I fail to understand why most Liberals want to protect the life of these sociopaths.
Now I understand most people who find themselves on Death Row are not terrorists or clear cut monsters. This as far as I can tell is one of the biggest reasons that people oppose Capital Punishment. We don’t want to kill innocent people under a criminal justice system that is extremely flawed. And I agree. Who doesn’t love the innocent? But we also shouldn’t want to send innocent people away to prison for life, or for 30 years, or even 10 years. Why can we accept ruining someone’s life but not ending it? These complaints against law enforcement and the courts are entirely separate issues. The US should absolutely be pushing to reform the entire system. Reduce maximum sentences for non violent offenders, decriminalize and reclassify marijuana, introduce alternate methods to prison to alleviate the overcrowding. And yes, do whatever it takes to get some cops more qualified than Paul Blart with Ty Cobb’s racial intuition. But if we don’t want to accidentally punish the innocent, admitting that we use an imperfect judicial system, but limiting this only to capital punishment is bonkers.
I guess one reason why we draw the line there is the supposed sanctity of life. For many this doesn’t just include those that we may think are innocent but those that we are fairly certain are guilty as well. We don’t want to kill people because we need to be better than the criminals. Or some of us liberals don’t believe you should kill a person (fetuses not included) in any circumstance other than maybe self defense. And then some that are against it because Super Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn’t believe in it. Whatever the exact reason there is a stigma against killing other humans. It’s wrong. It’s immoral. Sure you may use different terminology than your right wing pro life enemies, but the message is the same in that every life is precious. But really…it’s not. We have 7 billion people in the world and most of the them are terrible. Okay, some of them aren’t that bad, but we really don’t need to preserve every human life. In fact, twice as many people are born everyday compared to the number of those that are dying.
We all establish our personal limits to how much we care about the value of individual (or groups of) human lives pretty arbitrarily. Just think about how much power our country has in determining who lives or dies. Saying you don’t want innocent people to ever get killed is either opposing or being naïve to all warfare for starters. While some liberals are anti-war this isn’t everyone, not in every situation at least. See the success of American Sniper. You’d also need to ignore the money and arms that the US provides to countries worldwide that use them to kill oodles and and caboodles of other people. We don’t know the exact numbers but it’s fair to say that it is a lot more than the 144 people that have been released from Death Row since capital punishment has been reinstated. Why do we not all feel for those innocent people? Collateral damage. Big whoop. Or they don’t win over our sympathy because they’re “not like us”. I understand that people have nationalistic ties but I personally don’t find a difference between a human being in America versus a human being in Syria. Some we don’t slaughter, but we just choose to ignore them. We provide aid to some countries while abandoning others for various political reasons. Do we not feel for those who we could keep alive but choose not to because of their religious beliefs, their lack of natural resources, or because their leader invaded a different country that we like better years before they were born?
My loyalty lies with my family, my friends, and my region. I’ll admit that if someone I love, someone I know, or even just someone from Boston is killed in a murder (or an accident) it affects me differently than if it happened in Tulsa, OK. But I only care more about the victims in my circle but not the aggressors; if someone guilty is executed in Tulsa vs Tewksbury (or Tehran for that matter) neither one tugs on the ol’ heart strings. Does anyone think that Jared Remy deserves another chance because he is the son of a local icon or can we all just agree to put this human garbage down? Nationally, would you really protest outside the courtroom to save Milton Bradley’s life when he inevitably ruins that of any other woman he comes in contact with? Meanwhile the only thing that makes Americans feel uneasy about drones is if they can be used to spy on them doing their dirty business or how quickly they can be used to deliver their Amazon packages.
It’s never easy to make the decision to execute someone but…it probably should be. Why waste our precious empathy on the country’s worst people? I understand loved ones who fight to keep their imprisoned family members alive, but if Massachusetts allowed the Death Penalty and say my brother raped and murdered a few innocent souls, you think I wouldn’t agree to end the bastard’s life? I don’t think that capital punishment should be just thrown around all willy nilly but if it’s a heinous crime and we are certain that they are guilty, please just end it. It doesn’t matter how much you can see yourself in the guilty party. It’s too late for their redemption. Good Day Sir. We can restrict its usage to the worst offenses with only the most glaring evidence of guilt, but don’t tell me we should keep these sad excuses for people alive just because of the arbitrary application of the death penalty. Why can’t we make it more consistent and then bring in Utah’s finest traveling sharpshooters (not the Jazz) for the kill. Don’t drag it out for 15 years on Death Row and make the victim’s family suffer. Be sure and be quick.
Even if we were to miraculously fix the judicial system and even out racial and economic inequalities (hahahahaha sorry, I know) people would still be in opposition to capital punishment. I think this piss me off even more. Religious obligations? What happened to that whole separation of Church and State us lefties are always whining about? Or, because most of Europe has outlawed it already? Oh, because every time we agree with what Europe wants it works out great. I know that I just loooove all the electronic dance music that we have adopted, don’t you? But seriously, who says we’d be so more civilized if we limited our worst punishment to Life in Prison? Is that really more humane? Many countries don’t even include Life Sentencing as part of their system, limiting max sentences to 25 or 30 years. Who determines whether it is a good or a bad thing that the US, who already has the highest percentage of life sentences worldwide, to reduce the Death Penalty cases to Life in Prison cases? Apparently the enlightened liberal population.
Personally, I think I would pick death over life in prison. Probably because I’m afraid of being touched let alone raped and secondly I don’t value life over death in any and all scenarios. If I was paralyzed, I choose death. If I had ALS, I choose death. Brain dead? Finish the job please, I’m not that fond of machines. But I guess the point is the convicted don’t get to choose. We need to figure out how to punish them somehow and Life in Prison gets them away from the general population while not having to pull the trigger(or the plunger, the switch, etc). We can ignore the people that our country indirectly kills because we can justify it saying we didn’t have a choice; our legislature and chief executive has long given up caring what our people want). Or we can try to be more pragmatic about it and try to argue that it costs more to execute a prisoner than keep them alive forever anyway. To which the immediate question raised should be how the fuck do we spend that much on the prisons and the courts? Where in the holy hell is Elizabeth Warren to push for financial reform on this one? Who else supports Dying with Dignity? Good, me too. Let’s get some of that secobarbital and cut that budget down. Apparently it costs less than $3000. One year in prison costs 30 times as much. Now, I was always bad at math but doesn’t this seem more cost effective? Come on!
Of course there are more complications. Even those trying physician assisted suicides are facing shortages of the drugs. And without reliable lethal injection drugs we will just get more botched executions like we have seen recently. Which is unfortunate. Not that I care too much about the barbaric suffering for the executed, you know creating our own levels of human detachment again, but because it gives opponents of capital punishment another narrative to hold on to. Every death gone wrong and every innocent person executed gives people a personal connection to feel empathy for the convicted. Statistically the number of innocent people slain probably doesn’t matter, just another drop in the worldwide bucket. But we all (self included) care about a good story. Just like every person touched by the Boston Marathon Bombings has a few horror stories that are currently causing people to tap into their well of inner vengeance. You can make the emotional case for either side, but what place does human emotion have in figuring out important societal issues other than mucking the whole thing up?
The final point often issued against the use of Capital Punishment is that it is not an effect deterrent. This is probably true. But how can we prove that Life in Prison is a more effective deterrent? And if we can’t prove it does that mean we should eliminate its use too? What if we just can’t stop the worst people in society from behaving in the worst possible ways? Everyone seems to know that our prison system seems to need a systematic reform and hopefully that will change some things for the better. Maybe that person for wasn’t sent away for 15 years for weed as a teenager now doesn’t feel like when they are released they have to get involved with violent activities to make ends meet. Maybe with better mental health programs we can stop some of massive violence that occurs before it was left untreated too long. But just because we want to make things right, doesn’t mean some people wouldn’t rather watch the world burn. I know, I know, settle down there Bake Nolan, but how do we deal with the most violent offenders when killing them with kindness doesn’t work? And while I think the only fair way to improve the criminal justice system is to make progress from the ground up, I sadly believe some humans are too far gone.
I don’t believe that Capital Punishment needs to be expanded and in some ways it should probably be reduced. More than anything it needs reform measures like the rest of our judicial system does that require more thinking and planning and less smugly pointing out context-absent Death Penalty facts to your conservative uncle. Pretending that all humans deserve a chance to continue their life distracts from the people that are really getting screwed by the system. Some people are truly sociopaths. I’m sorry they were born that way and/or suffered from early trauma but the damage is done. Yes (for the the dramatic liberal opponents asking) I would pull the trigger myself. Just look at the flowers Jared.
We’re so practical when it comes to euthanasia for aggressive dogs and other animals, but we rely on this human species loyalty to treat (YES ALL) people differently. Don’t forget that we are just animals too. It’s science. We are destructive, judgmental, hypocritical animals, and our lives are not that precious. Sometimes we ARE better off eliminating some of us from the face of the earth. Not based on money, or race, or where they happened to be born in the world, but based on how terrible the person is. We can’t hide behind party lines on this issue. Is it not lazy to view Capital Punishment in such black and white terms when we agree that’s a terrible way to think of nearly every other decisive issue? It’s almost as bewildering as letting someone in your leftist brethren form a differing opinion without you offering some contrived arguments paired with more than just a side of condescension.
P.S: I actually really like Elizabeth Warren, please don’t kick me out of the club.