Friday, November 14, 2014

Capital Punishment: A Lesson for Euthanasia

Death Penalty News lifted this interview with author Michael Ponsor published in the Boston Globe. Ponsor wrote a novel entitled The Hanging Judge, which features the death penalty. The author happens to be a district court judge.

Q. What about the Gilbert case caused you to write a fictional account of a death penalty trial for your 1st novel?

A. The most profound realization I took from Gilbert was that human beings getting together to decide whether someone should be executed, even when they are supervised by a judge, will make mistakes. A legal regime permitting capital punishment comes with a fairly heavy price. I wanted people to know this.

Q. What do you mean when you say that the death penalty comes with a heavy price?

A. I mean, first of all, that where there's a death penalty innocent people will die. Sooner or later - we hope not too often - someone who didn't commit the crime will be executed. Every religion, every philosophy, every wise person - at least every one I've ever heard of - tells us that people are fallible. No religion I know of says that human beings are fallible in everything except in selecting who will face execution, and in that one area they are perfect.

Just because euthanasia is self-chosen doesn't mean it won't come with a price.

The price for giving doctors the right to terminate their patients is that people who don't want to die, will die. People will make mistakes. And people will opt to die feeling like that's the best option, putting the feelings and interests of others ahead of their own right to life.

If the deaths of innocents is enough reason to repeal capital punishment, it's a good enough reason to never legalize euthanasia.