Questions About The Death Penalty

20110922-135834.jpgIs the death penalty wrong?

If it’s wrong, does that mean God was wrong when He commanded it in the Old Testament?

Or is the death penalty right?

And was Jesus therefore wrong when he said “Turn the other cheek”?

Or is it wrong on a personal, vengeful level and right on a legal, law-enforcing level?

Should the state even base laws on religion?

Should religions be selling-out their beliefs by getting caught up in the fundamentally compromised world of politics?

Is it right to accept that, in a country with the death penalty, innocent people will mistakenly be executed?

Is is right to accept that, in a country without the death penalty, guilty-as-hell serial killers and rapists may go free and strike again?

At what point does someone become responsible for their own actions?

And if someone’s not altogether responsible for their own actions, through mental illness for example, should they ever be executed?

Even if they’ve done something truly abhorrant?

If you’re pro-life, are you therefore anti-death penalty?

If not, why not? Innocents are still dying.

If you’re pro-life, are you therefore anti-war?

If not, why not? Innocents are still dying, many of them babies.

Is it a numbers game? Acceptable losses, collateral damage?

What ratio of innocent victim to legitimate target are you therefore willing to accept?

If you’re pro-choice, are you therefore pro-war and pro-death penalty?

If not, is it therefore because it’s unacceptable to kill a human but not a fetus?

When does a fetus become a human?

When does life begin?

Is there a soul?

When does the soul become joined to the human body?

If there isn’t a soul, how do you know?

What about the times scientists have been wrong?

If there is a soul, how do you know?

What about the times priests have been wrong?

Don’t women have the right to decide what happens to their own bodies?

Don’t children have the right to be born?

Is abortion always wrong?

Even when birth would threaten the mother?

Even if the child would have no quality of life?

Even if the mother was raped?

Assuming you had the means, would you adopt a child if it meant preventing an abortion?

How many innocent people have to be executed before it’s accepted that the death penalty is seriously flawed?

How many guilty people have to reoffend, and how much more has to be spent on prisons and law enforcement, before it’s accepted that a more extreme deterrant is called for?

Does it matter if the death penalty disproportionately affects the poor and ethnic minorities?

What do you think about the poor and ethnic minorities in general?

Would you press the button to execute someone?

Would you let someone else?


Would you press the button to execute someone if there was reasonable doubt?

Would you let someone else?


Would you watch?

Why? Why not?

What’s worthy of execution? What isn’t? Where do you draw the line?

Would you vote for someone you disagreed with over the death penalty?

The death penalty provojes a thousand and one questions, weaving around other contentious issues, becoming a shibboleth for where you stand politically. The subject will be debated and insults will be thrown and politicians will make capital from it for years to come.

None of which helps Troy Davis, or his family, as of 11:08pm, Eastern Time, on September 21st 2011.

It was Peace Day.


2 thoughts on “Questions About The Death Penalty

  1. writerdood

    That’s a lot of questions, and I won’t attempt to answer them, but as to the issue of Troy Davis I will say this – which I know for absolute certain – I do not have enough information to clearly determine his guilt or innocence. Despite research into to the issue, and reading accounts from the side of the defense, the prosecution, and sources claiming to write about this without an agenda, I have been unable to make a clear determination. In short – I can’t tell if he did it or not. What I have determined (for myself as this is opinion) is that he should have been granted another trial. That’s how this appears to me. And, that being the case, his execution appears unjust (to me).

    As to the issue of whether or not we should even have the death penalty, I’d say that’s a matter of personal conviction. The words of Christ (or supposed words if we are to believe what has been passed down to us) are clear enough, yes. Murder is evil, for any reason. But that would never be a factor in my decision as to the morality of the imposition of death. Rather, I would look at whether or not it benefits society to have such a punishment. And, in that area, I see no clear benefit beyond government sanctioned revenge.

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      It’s difficult, isn’t it? I tend to agree with you – the death penalty seems to be about revenge enacted by the state (while it may be couched in terms like ‘providing a deterrent’, there seems to be more enthusiasm for it than you’d expect if it was just another law and order strategy). The Troy Davis situation just seemed to prompt an awful lot of questions, and that’s what inspired my ost. I just wish I had a few more answers!


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