Monday, February 28, 2005

Death Penalty?

It was 7:30 am, the air was cool and crisp (for now) and I was just sitting at a nearby mamak stall enjoying a cup of milo while leafing through the latest issue of TIME (February 21, 2005). After a few minutes of page-thumbing, I came across an an interview which annoyed me a little.

It was of an interview with Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking). In the interview, she was being questioned on her stand on the death penalty, on why she finds it unacceptable and bla bla bla.

Basically, she thinks that we should do away with death penalties because she has personally witnessed 7 executions, and out of those 7, she believes that 3 of them were innocent.

Hmmm, so let me see. What does she base this 'belief' of hers on? On the ability of the convict to weave a sob story? To shed a few tears? Unless she has solid forensic or investigative proof that these people are well and truly innocent, I would advise her to not let her emotional and sentimental state of mind impair her better judgement. Need I remind her that these people were convicted of heinous crimes such as rape and murder?? What happened to their supposedly humane side while they were committing these crimes?? Yeesh.

Secondly, she relates the death penalty to the 'death of innocence in all of us' (I detect a tinge of self-righteousness in that statement. She comes off as someone who believes that she's an upright, innocent person who's corrupted by the EVIL nature of this world! Oh puh-leeze, spare us the self-righteous ramblings.)

This Helen Prejean also claims that "...Look what happens to Supreme Court Justices who do these nuanced constitutional arguments and send people to their deaths and never touch the human cheek, the suffering". So what are you trying to say Ms. Prejean? That people who uphold the law (and by law I mean the death penalty) are considered heartless and uncaring?? Does she really know what goes on in the hearts and minds of the judges who are placed in such circumstances?? She must probably think that the masses who support the death penalty are a horde of evil, finger-pointing loons who cackle with glee everytime a convict gets executed, oh the poor narrow minded woman.

So what are my views on the death penalty? Well, being a born again Christian myself, I do believe in the sanctity of life. I do feel for the people who are on death row. Death by execution is never a joyful event, and should never be taken lightly.

BUT, we must see the death penalty as not an act of 'Punishment' or as an act of deciding whether a person deserves to live or not. We dont execute people to teach them a lesson. The laws are there in order to act as a deterrent, to prevent people from indulging in all sorts of criminal acts at will and to prevent the degeneration of society. The consequence of flouting these laws are also CLEARLY stated.....and these criminals know that! They are aware that by committing such acts, such and such a consequence will await them! Its not like they were unaware of the severity of their actions. Each one of these criminals KNEW that what they were doing was WRONG, and that if they were to get caught, they would most likely be hung! They very well knew it!!

Faced with this understanding, who do you think is the one with the disregard for human life? Is it the person or judge who's faced with the tough decision of upholding the law? Or the criminal who knowingly put his life on the line in order to get a few temporial kicks? ( a person who rapes and kill knowing FULLY WELL that it is a crime punishable by death)

Here's an illustration to drive home my point. Lets say that you've created a huge machine. You then proceed to draw a line on the floor a few feet away from the machine, with signboards warning people not to cross the line or get too close to the machine for it will endanger them. If a person walks by, sees the line, reads the sign, and yet decides to step over the line and ends up getting crushed by the machine....who's in the wrong?

On a last note, I would just like to highlight an interesting point. There is a reason why human rights are known as HUMAN rights. IMO, it is because they are the basic rights which all HUMANS are entitled to. Now, let us think a little about the term 'human'. What is it that makes us human?

Are humans defined by biological characteristics? or are humans defined by their capacity to show love, compassion and care? I believe in the latter, and those criminals, by doing the things they did, have robbed themselves their right to be called 'Human'.

None of us robbed them of that, we didnt force them to give it up, neither do we wish that upon them. They only have themselves to blame.....


Blogger NickTay said...

Hey! Welcome to the blogger world :)

REal blog at :)

10:56 AM  
Blogger ::Lord Apprentice:: said...

we were never given the right to live, so then who are we to assume the right to take life away? :)

u'll get bored of this whole blogging thing. or maybe not. well, i did. i realised that i have nothing interesting to say, so fuck it. hahahahaha...and i got bored. maybe i'll log in once in a while to post naked pictures of my left butt.

cheers dude!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

nick : This is kinda my return to the blogging world. We used to have a blog last time to keep in touch with the people in Australia (Li-Ann, Val, Hazel, Janice, Norman etc). Thanks for the welcome nonetheless..hahah :)

lord apprentice : what kind of foo name is that?...hahah. Anyway, i dont plan to be a hardcore blogger. This is all just part and parcel of the research i'm doing for my business idea.

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