Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let Us Reason Together Regarding The Death Penalty

The dust will settle. Protestors and proponents will go home and prepare for another day. More words will be spoken. More articles will be written. Youtube, Google and Facebook will keep the debate alive. Many people will continue to look for answers, but more troubling, many won’t be looking at all.

The prophet Isaiah (1:18) recorded the words of the Almighty, “Come now, let us reason together…” Many may disagree with me but it seems “reasoning together” is a dying practice. Rather than debating Capital Punishment with sound arguments the media is quick to rush their cameras to any place indicating the slightest emotional disturbance. Why do those who want to add their voice to the argument think they improve their effectiveness by dressing like a freak, grabbing a bull horn, running to the nearest busy street corner to unleash a string of “F” words?

It reminds me of a couple of foolish females protesting in my community recently on behalf of PETA. These naked nellies, finding themselves incapable of “reasoning together”, decided the best way to discourage local deer hunters from searching out their prey would be to just strip off their clothes and wear nothing but sandwich boards while proclaiming civil rights for zebras and bull frogs. Their ploy, while failing to convinced even a single gawking male only served to bring shame upon themselves.

In regard to the argument concerning capital punishment, let the wailing stop already. Let more reasonable voices be heard and let us agree and disagree in a reasonable and respectful manner, fully clothed.

Troy Davis was executed on September 21, 2011 for the murder of a police officer 22 years previous. More than 4,000 letters were written proclaiming Troy Davis’ innocence. His name was a popular topic of discussion around the family dinner table and at cocktail parties throughout all of Europe. "When will those Americans become as smart and civilized as we are?" asked the European masses as their moral structures crumble to dust and their economies take a Titanic plunge.

The Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu of South African, chimed in. Kings and dictators all added their two cents and the world nearly stopped spinning when the Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton spoke to the matter. Typically, the 'sound of reason' came trumpeting out of Hollywood in the voice of one of their own. Alec Baldwin pined, “….life in prison without parole is the worst possible sentence…Prison itself is the death penalty. In the slowest of slow motion,” he said to cheers from death row.

Few realize there was another execution that took place the same evening Troy Davis was executed. White supremacist, Lawrence Brewer, was executed for the horrendous murder in Texas of James Byrd, Jr., a black man. Why was Troy Davis a household name throughout the world while Lawrence Brewer remained nearly anonymous? Was Troy’s life more valuable than Lawrence’s life? Does the value of your life depend on the horror of your crime? Some of the loudest voices are ignoring the reality that every court and every judge that considered the evidence declared a guilty verdict for Troy Davis. Instead, they are declaring an unfounded and unproven accusation that Troy Davis was executed because his skin color was black. If capital punishment is driven by hatred for the black man why was a white man in Texas put to death because of a murder he committed which was spawned from his deep racial hatred for people of color?

I have difficulty following the argument that the death penalty is racist. The assertion that more blacks are executed than whites is simply not true. Entertaining the argument that the death penalty should be abolished because it is not fairly imposed upon separated races of people is to assume that if it were fairly imposed it would be acceptable. If the death penalty wasn’t right for Troy Davis, it wasn’t right for Lawrence Brewer. If there is unfairness in the system then the system must be fixed. It cannot be fixed by eliminating the penalty for a murderer of one color, it can only be fixed by applying the same penalty to murderers of all colors.

Many have been wailing that the death penalty takes the lives of the innocent. The ‘evidence’ that Troy Davis was innocent was not just painfully weak, the judicial system declared it was nonexistent. Davis proclaimed his innocence to the very end but a jury of seven blacks and five whites heard the testimony of 34 witnesses, the majority of them were African-American, and his case ran the gauntlet of appeals and he was found guilty. Finally, the Supreme Court agreed. The two people willing to recant their testimony were found to be untrustworthy and the defense team of Troy Davis refused to allow their testimony to be recorded.

It is possible that an innocent person has been executed but with the use of DNA evidence and modern methods of discovery it is becoming more and more unlikely. Opponents often point to the number of people on death row who have been released due to lack of evidence. There is a difference between acquittal and innocence. O.J. Simpson was acquitted but the majority of Americans still think he got away with murder. Many on death row have been released because there was not enough evidence to prove their guilt, it doesn’t mean they were not guilty. It doesn’t prove we are killing innocent people, it simply proves the things we have plugged into the system to prevent the death of innocents are effective. Opponents of the death penalty would be hard pressed to prove that a single innocent person has been put to death in the last century.

Those opposing the death penalty argue that it does not decrease the number committing murders. The death penalty certainly deters one murderer. Statistics show that the Willie Horton types who are released on parole occasionally murder again. Those who enter prison to never to see the light of day again occasionally murder other prisoners but the murderer who is executed never murders again.

Contrary to popular belief, a series of studies done at Emory University indicate that the execution of a murderer may save up to eighteen lives. The study is exhaustive and I have no room here to expand on it but you can investigate further for yourself. (http://www.hoshuha.com/resources/deteff.htm)

The death penalty has been declared unconstitutional. But The Fifth Amendment provides that '[n]o persons shall be held to answer for a capital...crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...nor be deprived of life...without the due process of law.' The will of the founders was to protect the lives of the innocent. Clearly, if the murderer was not to be deprived of life without 'due process', then he could be deprived of life on the condition he received 'due process' and was found guilty.

Finally, many wail about cruel and unusual punishment. When a man inflicts a torturous death upon another with a knife or a gun and the victim dies a slow and extremely painful death, in what way is putting the murderer to sleep forever cruel and unusual? The whole notion is absurd and laughable.

(Read Why Was Troy Davis Made A Hero?)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

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