The Death Penalty Is Wrong

Warning: I am very, very upset and thus this post uses very Not Safe For Work language.

I don’t give a flying fuck about whether Troy Davis was guilty. You fucking look me in the eyes and tell me it’s okay to murder another human being. You tell me that taking someone’s life without their consent is ever justified. You fucking tell me why. You tell me it’s okay to do that in my name, in all our names. I don’t have numbers, I don’t have facts and figures, I really don’t even pretend to have logic on this issue. I just have a feeling deep down in my gut, telling me that it’s never okay for the state to take somebody’s life. The death penalty is wrong.

Every human life has value. You can’t prove that it doesn’t — because you can’t prove a negative. Take the most foul, wretched excuse for a human being you can imagine, and try to tell me that his life has zero value, that in fact his mere existence is a detriment to society, so much so that he must be murdered, and I’ll tell you that you’re not looking hard enough. Every human being on this planet has something to offer, some whole greater than its parts that is irrevocably lost when he is snuffed out. The wonders of existence are so vast that every sapient being in history is to me as close to a miracle as I’ll profess to acknowledge. I’d like to point out the potential each living human (even the murderers and worse) has, but that’s going down a road that smells a little too anti-choice to me… I’m angry and being irrational right now, but I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth. I’ll put it this way: you can do absolutely horrid things, but then you can turn around and do amazingly beautiful things. This doesn’t justify the horrible things, but it should give us all pause. The death penalty is wrong.

Don’t talk to me about justice. Murder is not justice. Get it wrong once, in the name of everybody, and we’re all culpable. How many people have been wrongly killed in the name of justice? How many of those shameful deaths are acceptable, fucking broken eggs to make an omelette, to get whatever payoffs might or might not arise from the death penalty? Can you name a number or percentage of the population? That would be an abhorrent calculus of life and death. Yet such a number does exist, although we may never know it. The answer to me is clear: zero. The death penalty is wrong.

We have been making good progress at eliminating barbarisms and injustices for thousands of years. We are not moving fast enough to eliminate this one. In the developed world, slavery is gone, women can vote, LGBT persons are (generally) accepted (yes, we could use more work in this area), and we are free to seek our own destinies and believe and say what we want. Yet our country is one of a backwards few that still murders criminals in the names of all the people. This makes me angrier and sadder than I can possibly express. The death penalty is wrong.

[Penn and Teller have done a much better job of explaining my position than I ever could, in an episode of Bullshit.]

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