The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

We’re Right, You’re Wrong

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 11, 2009 @ 09:52

Last night, a man was killed.

He was killed by the state. Well, a particular state.

He was killed, deliberately, intentionally, and in cold blood.

Because that’s what was required. That’s what the killers were told to do.

More than one person was involved in this killing. State-sponsored murder, some might call it.

Of course, that happens all over the world. Why should we be so surprised that so-called governments exercise their will and control of their population by liquidating their citizens?

The orchestrators of such terror usually have something severely wrong with them. Perhaps some sort of mental deficiency that doesn’t fit our expected social norms.

But throughout history, such people have invariably claimed they were doing it for the right reasons. They always had some sort of justification. Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, bin Laden – they all had some distorted and warped notion of what was right; or that their actions are justified because of the sins of the person or people being put to death.

The funny thing is, the murder last night also had its backers crowing in the same way.

That it was an appropriate response to the crimes committed by the executed person.

That it was “justice”.

It didn’t really matter that the person being murdered may well have been mentally unstable. In previous episodes, it hasn’t really mattered that the person being killed was young.

They argue that the person being killed showed no compassion for humanity. Why should they get any in return?

And it’s a convincing argument. An eye for an eye. The spilling of blood is often a cathartic experience, we’re told. It is about retribution. Of getting even. And wouldn’t you want that if it had happened to someone you love?

It’s hard for any of us to answer that unless we’ve been in the desperately sad same situation to have lost a loved one or friend to a murderer.

I’m talking, of course, about the execution last night of the Washington sniper – John Allen Muhammad.

But – as you might have guessed – whenever the state sponsors an execution, it sits extremely uneasily with me.

I cannot justify state killing in any circumstances. Even one that has a so-called due process involved. A due process that has resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people. A due process that puts the world’s so-called greatest democracy in cahoots with Iran, China and North Korea.

It is not for the state to kill people. Just as people cannot have the right to kill other people, why should the state be any different?

After all, the state is made up from people. It’s just as fallible as any of us.

And that is my fundamental objection to the death penalty. It is too final. It is a statement of “this is the way it is, and there can be no other possibility”.

Almost like a religious dogma.

The state does not and should not have the monopoly on what is right.

We should never treat it as if it does.


One Response to “We’re Right, You’re Wrong”

  1. Neil Craig said

    I think the point is that the state cannot have a monopoly on killing – as the sniper proved. Whether only people like that should be able to kill is an entirely different question.

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