New England, United States
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Monday, January 07, 2008

Logic for the Death Penalty

Someone with whom I worked once presented a truly insightful analogy on the reason he supports the death penalty. I offer it now for your consideration.

"When someone has cancer, they go to the doctor and the tumor is removed. Now, does the doctor place the tumor in a Petri dish, wait for the tumor to become nice cells and then put them back in the patient? No, he destroys them. Murderers are cancers on the body of our society. Once convicted, they should be executed."

This makes complete sense to me. Obviously, we need to be sure - not just beyond a reasonable doubt - but 100% sure. And the crime must warrant death - self defense, accidents, negligence don't qualify in my opinion. But violent, pre-meditated, in the commission of a crime, or of a police officer - for these things justice should be swift and certain. While I wouldn't deliberately try to make the killers suffer during the execution, if it happened at times...I wouldn't cry, either.


  1. If you believe people will not change their behavior after punishment under any circumstances, as cancer cells can't and won't become nice cells, you should think carefully how this applies to other crimes as well - or explain why it doesn't.

    Not all opposition to capital punishment is based on hope for rehabilitation - hence the sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

  2. David,

    Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate discussing issues with people with whom I may not agree. You are right that not all opposition to the death penalty is based on rehabilitation. My reasons for it are also based on more than a disbelief in the viability of rehabilitation.

    First, many studies indicate that the death penalty (if swift and certain) is a deterrent. Next, I question providing what essentially amounts to free room and board for life for people who have no desire to live in a civilized society. Additionally, they get privileges, perks, education, health care (some elective) and more, all without having to give anything, even in the least, back to the society from which they have irrevocably taken so much. This seems more like a reward than a punishment.

    Last, we, as citizens, have to pay for all this. Well, I sure don't want to. Give me the ability to opt out of having my taxes fund these people upkeep and I might consider it. I'm sure the victims families would like to opt out. The accounting is simple...murderers can only be supported on the money left after all citizens who wish to opt out, have.

    In my opinion, it's throwing good money after bad.

  3. I think comparing cancer cells to murderers is a hazy analogy at best. Implying that murdering a murderer is a just punishment by virtue of the fact that it saves money is crossing a very dangerous moral line. As regards to there being evidence to support the idea that the death penalty is a superior deterrent to life without parole; I read alledged evidence to support this claim and also evidence to the contrary.

  4. I just want to make one point " Two wrong cannot make one right."

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