No one is immune to these emotions, but we should recognize them as such. The emotional urge to kill as a palliative to disconsolate pain is real and not rare. Does it work? I am lucky not to know.
Rationally, there is no redeeming return on a death warrant. Instead, by condoning state executions, especially under such controlled, calculated circumstances, we are passively complicit in the taking of a defenseless life. We don’t inject the cocktail, obviously, but by our consent to murder — even if we call it justifiable — we are part of the lion’s den. This is what concerns me most.
For the more practical-minded, there’s ample evidence that the death penalty doesn’t deter criminals. And though I’m amenable to the argument that the death penalty at least deters this particular killer from committing another crime, we are still trading one eye for another.
To my own vengeful eye, life in prison is far more excruciating than a 43-minute execution. Far worse is a confined life without privilege or diversion — except perhaps for books because reading keeps the mind sharp, all the better to remain alert to one’s malignant fate.
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