I offer the following during this Christmas Season in the hopes of inciting true love for our fellow man, rationality, and peace! This is a season when we should think carefully about compassion, love, forgiveness, and justice for all – the victims and the perpetrators. I don’t wish to bring up bad things, but this is a time when the meaning of punishment and redemption have a very big historical context. Perhaps we can find some peace in contemplating the answers to the questions I pose, as well as the phrase which I treasure – United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
Happy Holidays! May the blessings of the season be with you and your families. May the New Year bring you joy, prosperity, and peace!
The title of this post was the response of famed defense attorney Gerry Spence to the following comment I placed on his blog:
What does the death penalty do except act as a method of revenge and fulfill a blood lust? Does publicizing executions promote compassion and justice? Does an execution help cure society of murders or reduce the murder rate? Is a civilized society more civilized by executing its citizens? Does an execution protect society from murder greater than a life sentence without parole? Is an execution reversible when new evidence proves innocence? Do I want to teach my son that the answer to anything is murder? I don’t think so.
There are some emotions that are harmful as well as useless. Revenge is one of them. When I am angry, I try to channel this anger into something productive. Even in murderers, I see something useful. I would like to channel the consequence of their despicable act into something good in society. Yes we must protect society from them and many could never be rehabilitated. BUT – are we forgetting that all human beings, no matter how loathsome have unique qualities and even the ability to contribute to society – even evil from behind prison walls may have value?
Could not the convicted murderer help design programs to address the problems that lead them to murder? Are they incapable of contributing anything to society from even behind secure prison walls? Do people not change? Do people not grow in understanding? Perhaps America is wrong about the death penalty and the rest of the civilized world that abolished it is right.
I hope I see some day the death penalty in the United States goes the way of being drawn and quartered in England. I would like it talked about as a barbaric ancient method of punishment not fit for the civilized world, which promoted violence instead of preventing it. I don’t want anger and revenge misused in this manner any more.