Saturday, September 1, 2012

Killing Time

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." - Gandhi
Ah, now this is something I've been meaning to tackle for some time. My opinions on it are rather inconclusive, as they branch in different directions for different specific aspects of the topic.
Initially my opinion was that murder is murder, no matter who commits it first or last. If a parent cracks a child across the face as discipline for getting to a fight at school, what does that prove? "Violence is wrong" is certainly not the message I would glean from it. Yet many figures of so-called authority seem to embrace "Eye for an Eye" punishments, regardless of their obvious hypocrisy. This is true no matter what they call it (if a zoo housed a grizzly bear labeled as an ostrich, would that change said bear's DNA strands?). Death as a punishment for murder gets us nowhere - at least for the sake of this contention. This past school year I asked my Civics & Economics teacher why a killer who kills another killer is then killed by the government, i.e., Jack Ruby (though I think he might not have been put to death). She said that Lee Harvey Oswald hadn't been convicted yet. Still, I have to wonder why having badges and permissions and jurisdiction makes the actions any different on a basic level. This does not count self-defense or mercy, the latter referring to matters such as putting animals to sleep due to hopeless afflictions. I myself once dropped a Banggai cardinalfish into a glass of club soda because it could not swim without being blasted by the water jets in my aquarium; it was a miserable little reef fish and I saw no kinder thing than to end its life in the quickest and most painless way possible. (I'm not getting another of those for a while, if ever; they're so delicate and I'm not an expert reef-keeper!) Killing killers is not effective as a punishment.
However, if a person is a horrible villain, a dangerous one, one who might escape prison, I will now say: Go ahead! Be my guest. There's no reason to stoop to their level - humiliation, torture, and theatrical executions - but a quick and humane death will get rid of them. At least, the individuals; even if wickedness was a solid thing grounded in fact, it will never be purged in my opinion. Even if every killer, rapist, robber, and fraud on the planet were obliterated, that would make the ones who extinguished them take their place. This is a bit like the awesome manga Death Note or my own poem "Bloodrose" (on my old blog) in that exterminating every flawed person in the world would leave humanity to extinction (which would be a hell of a lot better for the other life forms, but not for us). My theory is that if this were to happen, people would soon be scared to do bad things. Good? So what if the purgers decide to go after candy shoplifters, jaywalkers? A first-grader cheating on his spelling test? Ridding the world of evil is impossible if you ask me. That being said, the especially vicious beings are sometimes OK to put six feet under. John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, deals with this sort of thing in a way. Still need to finish that one myself....
Earlier I mentioned mercy killings. Well, even if I wasn't a hyperactive teenager who needs to run around for at least an hour daily, I'd be pretty damn depressed in prison. And the though of never ever getting out? I'd welcome a lethal injection, honestly. So I think that a prisoner oughtn't spend their entire remainder of life in a cell if the easy way out is available. Of course, said convict's views may or may not differ from my own, although I doubt the system would offer them a choice; that doesn't seem like something they'd do in real life, regardless of the events contained in film and literature. I just don't see the point in keeping a surplus when they'll never be released until they're corpses.

Which brings me to yet another contention: population. This is something about which I never seem to tire of ranting, and some people simply don't need to be alive. I realize that sounds cold, but recall what I said two paragraphs ago. Some people are just not going to change, and after so many chances at redemption, I don't think they need to keep breathing. They brought their own fates upon themselves and have no others to blame (except, perhaps, Rick Perry - but that is a different issue involving false convictions and idiotic politicians). I only wonder why it is OK to put down cats and dogs - good ones who haven't harmed a soul - but serial killers and pedophiles can live for years behind bars and be considered victims of murder if such occurs. It implies to me that we are better than our bestial friends. Yes, I am a supporter of animal rights. It does not make sense to me! They don't hang or chair-zap orphans, do they?

So do I support the death penalty? Sort of, sometimes. But I'm not enthusiastic to watch people suffer and die, regardless of what my peers may think.