I've always been amazed at how the most strident supporters of the death penalty also turn out to be pro-life (a phrase I despise as it sneakily implies that if you are pro-abortion you are pro-death: a zygote is not a "person"!). Our local daily paper carried a story about a state pol, Rep. Raul Torres (R-Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley), who promises to work on laws making the death penalty applicable to "terrorists and drug traffickers that harm U.S. citizens." He wants to treat drug cartel activities on this side of the border as "acts of war."
In the first place, state law makes no distinctions between aliens and naturalized citizens of the U.S. as pertains to Texas criminal law and procedure (except that a defense attorney must advise an alien client that he may, and probably will be deported if he pleads guilty or is found so by a judge or jury). Torres presumably knows this, so his press releases are disingenuous. Nor is there any distinction in practice in the federal system. Torres wants the current administration to look weak and ineffectual, much as Gov. Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona. The problem is not going to be "fixed" with any more money thrown at it or the urging of penalties stiffer than the ones already in place. No, fixing the problem involves a brave new worldview: recognition that only with legalization and use of revenues for rehabilitation can the so-called "war on drugs" be won.
Torres's official website lists his religion as "Christian." Being a conservative Republican, he has to be pro-life, and yet he supports the death penalty. Torres would work toward the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which all conservatives believe was "wrongly decided," probably because of the "umbrella" doctrine found in the First Amendment, and by which doctrine that amendment is said to protect a woman's "right to privacy," as a justification for abortion. The New Majority of SCOTUS believes the First Amendment does not contain such a doctrine, which is odd when they also say that AK-47's are protected by the Second Amendment. Apparently it, too, has an "umbrella doctrine."
The Raul Torreses of this world would have women cutting themselves to shreds using coat hangers just as they would have us return to the desert warlord demand of an eye for an eye, a practice that Gandhi said would lead to universal blindness. Why do Torres and his ilk believe that an undifferentiated zygote's "life" is any more precious than an adult human being's? Two wrongs never make a right. If you don't want to believe Jesus, ask a mathematician. They'll tell you that it only works in imaginary numbers.
All of the arguments in favor of capital punishment fail. For one, it is more expensive to kill a killer than to keep him alive for life, given the number of appellate steps, and the time it takes for the cases to wind through the courts versus life spent caged a tiny cell with a daily food budget of about 35 cents. It is difficult to believe that a man or woman who won't hesitate to behead another human being (as did cartel members in, e.g. Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico a couple of years ago) will think twice before offing anyone else, including, say, a South Texas rancher. (Ironically, when a Mexican national commits a capital crime in the U.S., the more humane Mexican government will not allow return of its citizen by extradition to any requesting state in the U.S. The argument might be made that the cartels commit such violence precisely because they know they will not face the ultimate penalty if caught, but cartel killers are completely without conscience. If the death penalty were a deterrent, only conscience would make it work.)
Finally, the supporter of capital punishment points out that "at least the guy we execute won't be taking anyone else's life." No, they won't, but killing the killer is capitulation to the old law of the jungle, to lex talionis, which is not a characteristic of an advanced civilization. How odd that homicides are so infrequent in countries that have long ago abolished the penalty. The statistics do not lie. It is to be noted that individual ownership of weapons is against the law in those same nations. Where only the police have guns, murder rate go down.
As George Carlin once put it: If you're pre-born, you're fine. If you're preschool, you're fucked!
LOL, of course.
A lot of people forget the full concept of pro-choice. Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion only. It also means that a woman should not be forced to have an abortion if she doesn't want one.
Or forced to watch a sonogram or have a transvaginal device inserted against her will.
I like to call pro-life advocates, pro-forced birthers. They not only insist every sperm, egg and embryo be birthed but then they don't want them to have adequate food and health care or want them on death row.
Not everyone who is anti-abortion is anti-choice.
I do believe, on a wholly personal level, that to kill a child, even a zygote as mentioned above is wrong. The difference is I would work towards a world where a) free and easy access to contraception would reduce the amount of unplanned pregnancies, b) a woman should be encouraged to give an unwanted child up for adoption rather than abort it but, and I want to stress this c) No woman would be forced to go through with a pregnancy she didn't want.
To me its a simple argument. A fetus or zygote has the potential to develop into a healthy functional human being. Sure many do not go on to develop, but to actively intervene and end that life to me is wrong.
I've had this argument before and I know many will not agree, especially on here. However I'd like to turn James's original question around.. Why is a death row inmates life more important than a child's?
Why is it "wrong" to terminate a pregnancy? Who is saying it is wrong? If I say it is not wrong and you say it is, could it be that the answer lies somewhere in-between? What makes a zygote, which is not a person, more important than a condemned man or woman, who is a person. Dr. Kurtz, where are you now that I really need you? (My atheism is sometimes tempered by my humanism.)
I'm not saying its right to kill a condemned man.. i say its wrong to kill anyone.
"If I say it is not wrong and you say it is, could it be that the answer lies somewhere in-between? "
Heres the thing, and I think i made this point clearly before.. its a personal morality that says its wrong to kill a man, a woman, a child, or a fetus.
I'm not going to impose that morality on anyone. Instead I will advocate what I think is right and hope to convince enough people that it is so.
I will accede a point however. Before I used the term zygote.. been a while since high school biology, and i was mistaken. A zygote, until it implants in the placenta could not be considered human.
Since it is not original with me and seems to be catching on, feel free to use it. I happen to believe it is not murder and don't appreciate those who do forcing their beliefs on me. I also happen to believe that assisted death of the terminally ill who are suffering is not murder and would wish this for myself. Life is not simple and a decision such as these is not either.