Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Revenge or Justice. You Can't Have Both.

    With the recent atrocity in Oklahoma, where three black teens (Okay; two and a half) shot to death a 22-year-old white man, comes a lot of noise by a very diverse group of people:
The death-penalty crowd demands immediate execution for anybody – even a minor – who commits murder, rape, child molestation... Jaywalking...
    The more moderate crowd wants to wait until the murderer (rapist, child molester, etc) is convicted of the crime.
    An even more moderate crowd wants to wait until all of the proper appeals are denied.

    Then there's the punishment crowd. Some want to punish the offender, his immediate family, his role models (teachers, ministers, sports figures) and his hamster along with him, in the most brutal manner possible.
   The more moderate and popular crowd wants the offender killed in the manner he used on his victim(s).
    The most modest crowd just wants it over with; A needle in the arm is fine with them.
   Of course, the more liberal crowd just wants life in prison.
    The most liberal crowd of all doesn't even want that. Many would like to “understand” and/or “rehabilitate” him.

    Where do I stand on the issue?

    We have laws in place to deal with crimes, and a system of justice that is imperfect, but better than the law of the jungle.
    I am all for due process of law, waiting for conviction, running out appeals, and then a painless death with only the appropriate witnesses.

    Privately, I would take great satisfaction in knowing that the murderer suffered a long and agonizing hell on Earth – In fact, I'd like to cut off his arms and legs, put out his eyes, pull out his tongue, and then turn him over to his family to take care of him for the rest of his miserable life. They would be denied any possibility of welfare for the duration, and God HELP them if they somehow “lose” the boy, or if he has an “accident.”

    But, for all the satisfaction I would take in that, I would be terrified of any government that could impose such a sentence.
    The government's job is justice, not revenge.
    Doing what my animal nature wants is revenge, and it is right that the government will not allow us to give in to our animal natures in this way.
    If a man comes home to find his wife in bed with another man, killing both of them right then and there is a crime of passion, and might be excusable. Killing a man who is trying to harm you isn't even a crime!
    But sitting down to plan out the death of another man for any reason other than because you have sure knowledge that he is a threat to your own life is pure murder. Even in such a case, there are authorities you are supposed to call to remove the threat for you.
    Conversely, a government that kills in hot blood is a tyranny.
    Government must consider justice, determine whether justice will be served with the death of a particular person, and then cold-bloodedly set a definite plan, with methods, timetables, and authorities to carry out the deed. It does this by having laws that are public knowledge before the crime is committed, people to arrest, arraign, try, and judge, and all of these people must depend on twelve average citizens' understanding of the law to get such a sentence imposed.

    Let justice run its course, let a prosecutor convince a jury that the accused are guilty of the crime, and then give the appropriate sentence, according to the law. Since they are minors, the law only allows life in prison; If we don't like that, then we must work to change the law. It won't matter in this case, since the law at the time of the crime must apply (no ex post facto!) but it will give us a fuller sense of justice if it ever happens again.

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