political control at its sickest extreme

December 14, 2005

I realize that I’m not where you go to get your news, which is a good thing, since I’m a couple days behind on the execution of Tookie Williams. It happened nearly two days ago now, but I haven’t had much time to write, and capital punishment isn’t something that you touch base about quickly.

I’m not going to bombard you with statistics or any such thing, and I’m not going to try to make some sort of judgment on whether or not Tookie (or Mumia, or anyone else) was guilty or not. That stuff all evades the point as far as I’m concerned.

The point, dear friends, is that capital punishment is the ultimate manifestation of violent and coercive political power. It is the cornerstone of any society that puts it to use. There can never be an entity that is peaceful that utilizes the death penalty. Parents who beat their children when they misbehave beget children who beat up other children (or pets, or adults). Likewise, a state that kills its citizens when they misbehave begets citizens who kill other citizens when they transgress. The very act of state-sanctioned homicide affirms homicide as a viable act. I’m not saying that societies without the death penalty don’t ever have murders, but I am saying that societies with the death penalty will always have murders. For those of you who are into “necessary/sufficient” wording: capital punishment is not necessary to create a violent society, but it is sufficient.

So, regardless of whether the convicted is actually guilty, regardless of whether there is a racial bias and/or arbitrariness involved in the application, regardless of who’s for and who’s against, capital punishment is reprehensible, it’s unacceptable, it’s possibly the most odious of actions our government is responsible for (if we have to start ranking) from a simple philosophical standpoint, and even in the most cut-and-dried cases I refuse to accept it as an option.

Any questions?

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