A quick thought on the death penalty

The reason I oppose the death penalty isn’t because of its cost or the possibility of an innocent person being killed or because no government should have the right to put its own citizens to death. Those aren’t necessarily bad reasons – particularly the last one – but I simply can’t wrap my head around someone coming to a profound moral conclusion based on something like cost. That simply should not be an important factor in deciding what is moral and immoral. Rather, I oppose the death penalty because it is murder-by-committee. Instituting a process doesn’t change that fact. Taking the life of a person who poses no immediate threat is murder is murder is murder. (And, no, that doesn’t mean prison is nothing more than kidnapping: ostensibly, imprisoning someone is for the short-term and long-term safety of society, so it serves a legitimate purpose not found in kidnapping.)

Bizarrely, this position is often met with the same asinine argument over and over: murder is a legal concept and the death penalty is not illegal, therefore the death penalty is not murder. I mean, really. Do people actually think that if governments cease to exist at some point in the future – and surely, before the Sun collapses on itself, they will – that murder will also cease to exist? Did murder simply not exist during the first 190,000 or so years of human existence before the first civilizations? Because these are some of the positions a person necessarily must hold in order to assert that murder is defined by government and government alone.

And if that isn’t enough to dissuade someone from taking the above argument seriously, then consider all the horrible regimes that have existed throughout time. How many genocidal events have occurred where the host government considered its own actions illegal? Was the Holocaust not murder on a massive scale because Hitler said it was an okey-dokey thing to do?

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