23 January 2006

In which I hold forth at great length about the death penalty

The death penalty. Doesn’t get much more serious than that, does it? Just like there are no tasteful September 11th jokes, there are no tasteful death penalty jokes. So even though I want to make some flippant remark, because I’m a smartass by nature, I’m holding myself back.

I believe in the death penalty, for many reasons, but first let’s talk about how I think it oughta be expanded. Yes, expanded. I think that if you are a serial rapist, a serial pedophile, a chronic child abuser, or even someone who commits vehicular homicide on your 16th DUI, you ought to be eligible for the death penalty. Now I know that in Saudi Arabia, if you steal something, they cut off your hand. I don’t advocate going that far, but I do think that there are folks out there who can’t be rehabilitated, and at some point, we should stop trying. How much of your hard-earned tax dollars is enough money to spend warehousing, feeding, and educating someone who raped 3 grandmothers? Personally, my answer to that is less than one red cent. There’s a bit that comedian Ron White does about the Texas state legislature putting in an “express lane” to the death penalty. The bit is funny, but every time I’ve seen him do it, rather than laugh, the crowd cheers enthusiastically. Makes ya think that maybe folks are more pro-death penalty than you think.

Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments about Illinois and their mistakes on death row. And the journalism students that totally exonerated a man on death row with DNA evidence. I’ve checked out The Innocence Project And yeah, there are definitely times when the cops and DAs and legal system get it wrong. But when it is YOUR kid or aunt or mother…I would want the maximum penalty. I stood in Barnes & Noble and then at a big box retailer that I don’t like to admit that I ever darken their doors and read most of Sharon Rocha’s For Laci while standing in the book aisle. In which she says memorably, “Divorce is always an option. Not murder.” The argument against the death penalty, of course, being that even if whoever murdered your loved one is put to death, your loved one is still dead. True story, as my sister often says. A friend of my DH’s died when I was about 22; she was only 26. She died as a result of horrible medical mistakes, and I didn’t know her parents very well at the time. I asked DH if her parents would sue the hospital and doctors who caused her premature and awful death. No, he thought, because they would say that it wouldn’t bring her back. He was right; they opted to not sue, although I thought then and still think now that they would have had an ironclad, watertight case. I’m digressing again. No, killing the murderer who took your loved one away does NOT bring them back. I know that. But I really think that if the death penalty were expanded, the murder rate would go down. In Sweden (here she goes again touting Sverige as utopia) if you drive drunk, you lose your license. Period. Forever. No “work and school privileges” no reinstatement fees and you get it back. Nope. Drive drunk, lose your license. Guess what their rate of traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers might be. Just guess.

So that’s my take on the death penalty.

On to more usual fare....the Supreme Court sidestepped another Roe v. Wade case, for which we can all breathe a sigh of relief, but the thought occurs to me that eventually, they're going to stop sidestepping it, and step right into it.

Hope ya’ll are having a good one.

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