I took the above screenshot about three weeks ago, from a Facebook thread about suspects of the Boston bombing. The irony strikes because the comment was not directed toward the actual bomber, and thus this person’s violent sentiment was wasted (as well as the support he/she got from five other people). However, it does serve its purpose in allowing me to smoothly transition into my oh so subtle argument against a practice we all know and love: the death penalty.
We all get emotional sometimes. I cry over characters who don’t even exist – heck, sometimes tears prick the back of my eyes when I see old people walking together. If I were to lose a close friend or family member, I’d most likely want to damage the person responsible right away. But should we allow our emotions to reign supreme and inflict irrevocable harm upon those who have hurt us? Is that the best way for us to progress as people, as humans, as a nation?
Killing criminals won’t bring our loved ones back. Killing criminals won’t lower the overall crime rate. Killing criminals will, however, cost our country more money. Learning that fact last summer shocked me; why wouldn’t quickly disposing of killers save us time and resources? It’s unfortunate I wasn’t aware of all of the appeals these cases have to go through, as well as the cost of the actual procedure itself. The idea of poetic justice, even an incorrect one, can steal the sight of many.
In my psychology course last year we learned about the availability heuristic and how people get attached to certain images. Perhaps this is why many of us don’t recall the victims of the Columbine shooting but we can instantly retrieve the names of the perpetrators. Maybe this explains our inclination to hurl hate messages at Dzhokar Tsarneav when we could be raising funds for those injured in the bombing. Either way, harboring spiteful thoughts does not bring us closer to justice – it doesn’t provide a plausible method for preventing future suffering.
And that’s the word this is all about: justice. I empathize with those who wish to receive recompense, but the death penalty does not act as a deterrent, it does not follow objective and strict guidelines, and it does not enhance the morality of any party involved. We should strive to ameliorate the conditions of those who walk the earth today – we shouldn’t waste time gouging eyes with so many of us already blind. What kind of cycle do we establish by basing justice on death, on cruelty, on hatred?
We only have so many minutes to make a difference. We should spend our time on the ones who count, the ones who can reap the rewards of our efforts, the ones who cry for help after the flood or shooting or fire. The ones who, in the end, still need us.
Anyone agree or disagree with my stance on the death penalty? I’d love to discuss! Also, my AP Calculus exam is in less than 48 hours and my AP Biology exam is in one week… wish me luck studying! Hope you’re all doing well as always.