An eye for an eye

the-blind-leading-the-blindAn eye for an eye makes the whole world blind – Mahatma Gandhi

Appealing to the innate humanity of my countrymen for resolution of this issue is a path grounded in failure as our society has become largely indifferent to human suffering.  Raising the issue of the death penalty with like-minded individuals also tends to accomplish relatively little as the rumblings of “preaching to the choir” quickly permeate the discussion.  So I opt for an alternative path with my diatribe today.  This is primarily directed to my vengeance charged countrymen, who ballyhoo and shout, “He should die for what he did” when a poverty stricken, mentally impaired person  is scheduled to be executed.  Not many privately schooled, W.A.S.P. “yutes” on death row at last examination.  Correction “youTHs.”  Moreover. state and federal prosecutors seek the death penalty in a disproportionate number of cases where minority defendants are concerned.

We have been conditioned to value the opinion of folks who have attached a lot of letters to their names, so please consider what John Roman, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and Executive Director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, et al., wrote in a Dec. 15, 2009 study “Reassessing the Cost of the Death Penalty Using Quasi-Experimental Methods: Evidence from Maryland,” published in American Law and Economics Association:

“Fourteen studies have estimated the costs of capital punishment, including one study of the federal death penalty and 13 state- or county-level studies. Each study concludes that the presence of capital punishment results in additional costs.  Cases receiving a death notice are approximately $517,000 more costly during the trial phase, $147,000 more costly during the penalty phase, and $201,000 more costly during the appellate phase than a capital eligible case where no death notice was filed…. On average, a death notice adds about $1,000,000 in costs over the duration of a case.”

One million bucks?  So you can cheer, “Justice is served!” Are you shitting me bro???  (Pardon my outburst, but this is offensive to my sensibilities.) Law school is equal parts blow, booze and books but you do learn that there is absolutely NO empirical evidence to support the claim that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime.  If not deterring further criminal behavior, then what?  Society is paying 7 figures more, per case, to satiate your moral appetites predicated upon the Hammurabic Code.  I am adamantly opposed to subsidizing your vengeance.  BTW, isn’t that reserved for the old bogey in the sky? (See Romans 12:19).   Enough is enough. That money is much better spent militarizing civilian police forces so that rabble-rousing college students can be pepper sprayed en mass and objectors to the status quo can be herded into free speech protest zones. After all, where on earth do these individuals get the notion that there is some expressly granted covenant to free speech?

I yearn for a time when the Federal government and the 33 remaining states can join the rest of the Western democracies and abrogate the death penalty entirely.  But our value on human life is rather low as a culture.  Only when we feel personally threatened do we respect the sanctity of life.  Furthermore, as has become evident in my examination of American history, accomplishing change as a result of bridging an ideological divide is rarely accomplished.  Reason is not a tenet shared by all.  If God can damn a man to eternal suffering then it is well within the ambit of the State’s power.

Legal fundamentals include the philosophy that “tis better to let 1000 guilty men go free than to punish 1 innocent man.”  However, such abstruse concepts are quickly forgotten when many opt to enter public service.  Therefore, until policy makers examine facts concerning the percentage of death penalty convictions overturned within the last 20 years based on DNA evidence, and realize that the “eye for an eye” punishment scheme was only relevant when men were fed to lions for sport, I suggest an examination of the financial prudence of life without the possibility of parole.  I am sure that one of these corporate lackeys of the Washington plutocracy can introduce legislation with support being derived from “fiscal conservatism” to abolish the death penalty.  Cut spending here before assaulting one of the support programs that benefit lower income families.

HJ

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About H3nry J3kyll
Vincit omnia veritas (using an obscure Latin heraldry motto makes one seem kinda learned and distinguished).

2 Responses to An eye for an eye

  1. Nice post, if disheartening. I know it’s cynical, but I sometimes wonder if we must hope for a fad, some fluke of political/emotional fashion, to move our society in a good direction, on the death penalty among other issues. Public compassion seems out of fashion — encouraged by vested interests who profit and maintain greater social control by encouraging our natural proclivity to selfishness and suspicion. Even our leaders much-touted concern for saving money never trumps the usefulness of war and cruelty.

    And yet. Was it Colin Wilson who wrote of “the five-percent evolutionary minority”? Five percent seems optimistic if anything. But we also know it takes very small amounts of a catalyst to evoke powerful reactions in the right conditions. We can never stop pushing and preaching, if only because “they” count on our apathy and inertia.

    • Henry Jekyll says:

      Well said and you’ll find no argument here. The minute we begin to remain silent and cease to voice our objections regarding perceived inequity and inhumanity, it’s taken as tacit approval. The overwhelming influence of media on the general public can only be counteracted if we challenge the advocated paradigm, which really does seem to be centered around violence and an overall lack of appreciation for life. I find this applicable within my peer group especially concerning economics and war.
      A shift in human consciousness towards a premium on life and compassion is necessary, but a truly transcendent figure(s) would be required to start a movement and galvanize consensus, if they survive assassination that is. Otherwise getting this done on a large scale is probably gonna have to be done one person at a time. I think far too many people view life as something to be conquered and perceive the non-immediate world as somewhat of a threat.
      Thank you for putting Colin Wilson on my radar. Hadn’t heard of him before. I ran a quick Wiki search and he appears to be a rather fascinating character. IMHO anyone who includes Gurdjeff, Jung, Blavatsky, and Paracelsus among their list of influences is definitely worth further reading.

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