Greater Satisfaction in Peace

I have always wondered how it could possibly make sense to use killing as a punishment for killing.  Some people do believe that capital punishment is the correct way to handle a murderous perpetrator; whether their incentive derive from their desire to protect the public or from their desire for vengeance, some people see the death penalty as a very just form of punishment.

Others, however, are affected in a very different way by the murderous wrongdoings of criminals.  These people take a pacifist approach and seem to desire peace above all else.  They stand with the belief that the original act of murdering is so jarring and terrible that we need not continue the violence by using the death penalty on even a murderer.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center Website, in an article posted on February 28, 2013, Aba Gayle, a resident of Oregon, is supporting the repeal of the death penalty in the state of Oregon.  She has been personally affected by the issue, as her daughter was murdered back in 1980.  The article states, “Gayle testified that those in her situation will never experience closure and executing the killer would not honor her daughter’s life.  She said, ‘Do not tarnish the memory of my beautiful child with another senseless killing.'”

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Aba Gayle

As I stated above, some people do desire to seek vengeance for a murder having personally affected them, but what good does this do for society in the long run?  How could peace be promoted when the value being preached and acted upon is to kill one another, whether it be in a “civilized” manner or not?  Also, the issue of protection for the public is irrelevant since the United States does, in fact, have sufficient prisons to hold all charged criminals; this is an issue I will more deeply discuss in a later post.  The point I am making here is that there are several people who suffer emotionally each time a perpetrator is sentenced to death.  These people are not always just family and friends of the criminal; oftentimes they are friends and family of the victim, as was the case with Aba Gayle.  In situations like these, it seems almost unethical that the death penalty would ensue, even when those affected by the victim’s death are advocating for the life of the perpetrator.

The death penalty exists in order to punish someone for a wrong they have done; when those actually affected by the wrong are highly against killing, even as a form of punishment for the murderer who killed their loved one, it does not seem right that capital punishment exists.  I feel that those affected by a murder should be able to stop the perpetrator from being killed if this is what they want, but this will never be possible as long as capital punishment is legal.  As if losing a loved one is not enough, some people are forced to suffer through witnessing another intentional violent act.  Peace is something that should never be intentionally denied of a person, if violence is at all possible to avoid.

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10 thoughts on “Greater Satisfaction in Peace

  1. I have a hypothetical: Assume the death penalty is made illegal in all cases. Now, suppose a man brutally rapes 17 women. Of course, rape is the worst, most violent and despicable act this side of murder. So we sentence him to life in prison without the chance of parole.

    This may now feels he has nothing to live for, so he decides to bite out the throat of the prison guard who is harassing him a little. And then he snaps a man’s neck when he tries to rape him in the shower. The man is already spending life in prison, so what does he have to do for good behavior?

    The point of not having the death penalty is to protect life, so we keep this guy alive, and he keeps killing people in prison. Couldn’t we kill him in order to preserve the life of everyone else in the prison?

    • Reed,

      Although I understand your position here, I still believe that it is not right to take someone’s life as a form of civil punishment. I don’t think we can find complete justification in purposely killing someone, when we’re killing them because they killed someone else. I understand that the two killings are entirely different in many different senses, but a life is a life. Also, I know that life should be protected at all costs, and so it would seem that maybe it would be right to kill the man to preserve other people’s lives, but I don’t think this is where we should start. Why would we begin our intention to preserve life by killing someone? What should be done in a situation like this is to increase jail guards and watch, to enhance protective clothing and equipment for anyone dealing with the prisoner, and to keep the dangerous prisoner separate from other prisoners at all times. I know that there would still be a possibility for danger even after all these precautions are taken, but a possibility for danger is a more progressive situation than a definite, intentional killing.

  2. This is really interesting! For another article you might be interested in reading, the man was a serial rapist and killer and recieved psychiatric treatment which cured his urges for such violent behavior. He ended up deciding, for the peace of the victims’ families, to opt out of appeals courts and accept the death penalty. The article he wrote first, though, was very interesting! If you’d be interested in reading that, I could find/send it to you.

  3. This is interesting! I recently read an article written by a man on death row who was a serial rapist and killer, but upon receipt of psychiatric treatment completely lost his violent urges. This post reminded me of it, because he ended up deciding for the sake of the victims’ families to accept the death penalty without appeals. If you’d be interested in reading that article I could find it and send it to you.

  4. I like this blog a lot! However, maybe change up the banner photo to something a little more relevant? Unless the banner photo does indeed have some sort of relevance to you. Regardless, the information is what matters and you definitely are solid in that category.
    Here’s my abbreviated view on the issue. How can one learn from their mistakes if he or she is dead? The death penalty does nothing more than rid the Earth of these horrible human beings. It doesn’t do any good in teaching the person a lesson. Life in prison allows the criminal to have to “live” with their mistakes.

    • I agree with that. Although I don’t agree with the death penalty for other reasons, I also feel that it is not necessarily the most “lesson-teaching” form of punishment.

  5. This is an interesting and morally complex topic. I remember reading Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song a couple of years ago and being surprised that the death penalty was only reinstated a year before Gary Gilmore’s death (1977). It seems like the U.S. court system isn’t even sure about the morality of this issue, and I think pointing out some of this back-and-forth legality could really help strengthen your argument/ethos.

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