Life, Death, and the State

John Kerry and the Death Penalty,” TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime,, 04 December 2002.

Scott Peterson,” by Thomas Heckroth, My Side of the Story,, 14 December 2004.

Finals are Done,” by Thomas Heckroth, My Side of the Story,, 15 December 2004.

Results 1 – 10 of about 51,900 for Terry Schiavo. (0.04 seconds),” Google Web Search Engine,, 15 December 2004.

“I’m opposed to the death penalty … because I’m for a worse punishment.”
-Senator John F. Kerry

Something of a bru-ha-ha erupted at My Side of the Story relating to the state’s power over life and death. A number of subjects are brought up, but I believe they can be summarized in two quotes.

Ok, to really get back to what bothers me. I sat there and watched and waited for the sentence to be read, more in disgust than true interest. I have never really thought of sentencing someone to death as a joyous occasion


My sickness comes from the death penalty itself. No matter the evidence, it can never be proved without a doubt that someone is guilty. There is always a chance that the person didn’t commit the crime. Next, where is our value for life if we feel the state taking a life is “noble” but another person taking a life is “reprehensible”? There is never a reason to celebrate the taking of someone’s life against their will. Justice yes, murder no. The state has no right to decide who lives or dies.

I can’t disagree more. When the U.S. Armed Forces or its allies kill any of the following men

* Osama bin Laden
* Ayman al-Zawahiri
* Mohammed Omar
* Saddam Hussein
* Ali Hassan al-Majid
* Abu Musab al Zarqawi

I will be very happy. I will cheer, applaud, and celebrate. And so will many others.

I can’t imagine a foreign policy that doesn’t include the deaths of these men. Well, I can, but it wouldn’t be a immoral one.

More morosely, the state is heavily involved in what remains of Terry Schiavo’s life. I feel very bad for everyone involved in that case. She is loved by many, and has committed no crime, but the Law Courts will decide whether she lives or dies. It may be terrible, but saying the state, through its Law Courts, has no say in that case opens the door to anarchy.

The real question comes down to deterrence and humanity. Terrorists must be killed. Innocent victims must be protected. And facts must be recognized.

Dead people cannot commit crimes. Murders and tortures are commited by and against prisoners. A dead sadist cannot terrorize others, and a dead murder cannot kill others. And a dead inmate cannot have his soul destroyed by being penned like a dog.

There are faits worse that death. A sadist, or one pretending to be like John Kerry, might publicly prefer this. But for those wishing to stop crime and treat criminals humanely, the issue requires some reflection.

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