Inject or not to inject, that is the question

Patrick St. Pierre

Do you think that a murderer needs to be executed by the government?

Firstly, I’m independent politically. I find positives and negatives about both of the dominant parties. In political disagreements, there is one issue that I can’t quite make my mind up about. The death penalty is, in many states, the punishment for first degree murder; a premeditated act of aggression that ends with loss of a person’s life. I have examined both arguments, and they are both good arguments that make it difficult for me to commit to one side or the other.

One argument is that the person ended a life and therefore should have his or her life ended. This is straight from the Code of Hammurabi; which is an “an eye for an eye” kind of justice. I have never lost someone I loved by the means of murder. I cannot even begin to empathize with that experience. When I think about what I would do if someone did hurt a loved one, I become frightened because I’m not sure what I would do. Would I go after the murderer? Would I just shut down? Would I work to live up to their memory? I really don’t know. I can’t say whether or not I would want the person responsible to be executed for taking my loved one. Therefore, it is difficult for me to be against the death penalty.

The other argument is that if we, as a society, kill the person responsible, then we are no better than him or her. Also, that forcing them to live out their life is more of a punishment than executing them. I was taught growing up, like many others, that if someone hits you and you hit them back, then you are no better than they are. There is certainly a parallel between that lesson and the death penalty. Then, taking the parallel into consideration, you have to question whether or not the circumstantial differences between the two initial acts are worth discounting the parallel. Basically, is the lesson irrelevant in the face of something as important as murder? Again, I don’t know, but I do know that there is a difference between justice and revenge. Justice implies a need for the atonement of past actions. Revenge implies punishment in an effort to fill a void in the person seeking the revenge. Again, I don’t know that I would be above seeking revenge, but is it the duty of a government to fulfill my need for revenge? I’m not sure that it is. Therefore, it is difficult for me to support the death penalty.

Usually, I like to end these columns with an affirmation of what I believe in, concerning whatever issue I’m tackling. I can’t do that with this issue because I’m still struggling with it. I am curious though, as to what you think. So, do you think that a murderer needs to be executed by the government? What are your ideas and justifications for taking either side, or are you like me, constantly being torn in both directions?

Patrick St. Pierre is a senior English and psychology major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].