Sunday, September 02, 2007

The death penalty is not necessary

In response to this column by Joseph Quesnel:

All human beings-- born and unborn-- are intrinsically worthy, regardless of their actions.

I believe the moral threshold to permit the killing of a person in self-defense should be fairly high.

And when there are alternatives, it should never be permitted.

Our penal system is fairly efficient at protecting us, so long as the killer is locked away for a very long time. They don't even have to be locked up until they're dead-- old convicts do not tend to kill people.

Killing a person is not real justice. If someone killed my daughter, killing the murderer would not bring my daughter back. What does the victim's family gain by that lost life? And how does a convict really expiate his misdeed if he's dead?

If someone killed a family member, I would prefer a long regime of arduous forced labour. That to me is fair retribution. An execution is over and done with in a few minutes. Backbreaking labour is a greater punishment.

Plus, as odious as this is to the ears of a victim's family, ideally, there should be some good that comes from punishment. Hopefully, the perpetrator would truly repent. Hopefully, he would develop some skill to be of service to others. A dead convict contributes nothing to the world.

I think the death penalty was permissible once upon a time. But now we have other means to protect society. Rather than taking life, the state should set the example and preserve it.

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