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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Murder not in my name.

I have been reflecting on the SCOTUS's recent decision to overturn the death penalty in the case of child rapists. Naturally, that also led me to reflect on the changes in my opinion on capital punishment in general, but I will get to that later.

Although I am not a parent, I find the abuse and rape of children, especially those under 12, a crime whose horror has few parallels. I wish nothing more than for the perpetrators of those crimes to be punished to the full extent of the law, and for the full extent of the law to be harsh indeed. That said, if the goal is getting child rapists off the streets, the Supreme Court absolutely made the right call in overturning capital punishment in the Louisiana law, extending to the other five states that have similar laws. Most victims of child rape, especially under the age of 12, know their rapists, and as cited by Justice Kennedy, may be far less likely to report the crime if they know their abuser may be put to death for the crime. As an example, one of those whose appeal was upheld had raped his step-daughter.

If the goal is to protect children, again, the Supreme Court made the absolutely correct call. If a child rapist knows he or she may be sentenced to death for their crime, what exactly do they have to lose if they go one step further and murder that child? While the pain a rape victim experiences lasts for the rest of their lives and may never fully heal, the important thing is that they're still alive. They do have that hope that is snuffed out forever when someone is murdered. As a side-note, it has been 44 years since the last person was executed for a crime that did not result in a fatality, and on the basis of those 44 years of case law and American jurisprudence, again, the Supreme Court made the absolutely correct call.

The only possible justification for the Louisiana law is simple revenge, and when revenge is measured against the safety of children and the incarceration of those who prey on them, revenge is simply a pathetic excuse. I would rather see each and every one of those fucking rat-bastard pieces of shit wake up every morning knowing there is no hope and no escape, and that they have nothing more than fear and pain to anticipate every morning.

I have spent plenty of time on the Louisiana case in particular. Now I shall spend some time on the name of this post. Murder not in my name. I say this because, whenever the state executes someone, in essence, they are committing murder in your name, in my name, in the name of your neighbors and friends and family and in the name of all we hold dear. The "state" isn't the governor, or the state legislators, or the President, or any of the various and sundry government officials. At least, it's not just them. The "state" is us, "We the People."

In Dallas alone, 13 people have been exonerated, cleared of crimes they never committed, in the last few years alone. While none of these were capital cases, the implication is horrifying. We've seen literally hundreds of cases over the years where people have had decades of their lives stolen from them, be it through malice or human error. While they have lost time they can never get back, they are still alive to enjoy their families and friends and to reclaim, in some small portion, their lives. We've seen still other cases where those who WERE on death row were exonerated and freed, sometimes decades later. How many innocent men have been murdered by our government in this flawed quest for "justice"? What if one of those innocent people were your aunt or uncle, your brother or sister, your mother or father? What if you were that innocent person, murdered in our name to appease the masses? This is a thought that haunts me.

I voted for Dole in 1996, and for Bush in 2000 and 2004, the latter of which has me grabbing for my antacids every time I think about it. I was once very conservative, but when I was a young adult, I asked someone why they were a conservative, and she answered, "Because I love freedom." Because I love freedom. That has stayed with me in the intervening years, and it is ultimately why I am no longer very conservative at all. Perhaps the case that has crystallized my opposition to capital punishment the most was not a capital case at all. It involved 3 lacrosse players at Duke. I have talked at length about it on this blog, so I won't belabor the point. However, if three demonstrably innocent people with access to some of the best legal minds in the country can almost be sent away for 20+ years for a crime that never happened, what of the poor? What of the average person? That may have been a case of an alleged rape, but it got me thinking: Exactly how many innocent people are in prison right now? How many innocent people have been murdered by the state? It's barbaric, it's wrong, and it's bullshit.

For those guilty of the most heinous crimes, take away their hope. Take away their freedom. Take away everything they've ever loved or cherished. Let their suffering be as great as their victims' and the families of their victims. If we thirst for vengeance, if we thirst for retribution, this is ultimately the harshest punishment we can mete out. After all, a person can only die once.

Enjoy the music.


Sheryl said...

I can see the argument that a rape victim might be less likely to report a rape if they know it could lead to the death of the raper, but I kind of doubt that most rapists are thinking about legal consequences when they rape anyone. I kind of doubt it would cause them to kill the kid just to silence him or her. But I could be wrong.

Sheryl said...

Also, the opposite thinking could be argued as well. Don't worry about this guy ever raping you again if you report him because they will execute him and he won't be able to hurt you again. Whereas, if you tattle on him, and they throw him in jail for a long sentence that gets cut short because the prisons are overcrowded and they have to let some people off on "good behavior," then it's possible said rapist could retaliate. So if there is a fear factor of retaliation, then knowing he might be killed could actually be an incentive to report things as well.

It's a tough call that could probably go either way.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I'm thinking, in the cases as heinous as those considered by the SCOTUS in this instance, a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Murderers, thieves, and drug dealers may be let go, but life w/o parole is simply game over. There are appeals, but failing that, the only way they leave prison is in a pine box. Rehabilitate those we can, but for those we cannot, keep them in prison until they have been dead for ten years.

Sheryl said...

But you were talking about the victim's willing to come forward. I doubt they would be making distinctions in their minds of whether the raper qualified for a short term sentence or a life time one.

Sheryl said...

And I was just arguing from the other side. I don't actually know how I would call that one myself. I'd have to give it a lot of thought and hear all the arguments and see the statistics.

1138 said...

Better to leave ten thousand guilty men prison than to put 1 innocent man to death.

Better yet don't put innocent men in prison either.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Agreed, though with human error being a given, the former would be far easier to accomplish than the latter. The whole issue of prosecutorial misconduct may be ameliorated if the punishment for that crime were stiffer.

1138 said...

Stiffer and if it were attempted at all.
We have in place a series of rulings and laws that shield both the enforcement officer and prosecutor from justice and under compensate the victims of their misuse of power.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Agreed. We can be a better nation and we MUST be a better nation, because it is good and right that we do so. It won't be easy, but this could very well be considered a battle for the soul and honor of our nation.