By Caleb R. Newton
When the value of a victim’s life is negotiable, something is terribly wrong.
An effectively wielded death penalty is, as may be shocking to some, a necessary part of a society that values the individual more than anything else. As the clichéd and much lighter question goes, “Does your freedom to throw your punch end at my face?” To support the death penalty answers yes to the preceding question, while to be against the death penalty answers no. Answering no and defending the supposed rights of a person who has committed certain crimes devalues all persons, both the victims and those who may be associated with the victims in any way, even be that association simply by demographics.
Beyond support for the idea of a death penalty is the question of implementation - Who should be executed? What crimes constitute delivering the need for such drastic measures? A working definition for a crime affecting the outcome of capital punishment can be derived from not necessarily modern legal sources as one in which the victim’s personhood and value is taken over and attacked by the perpetrator.
The first realm of cases that falls in this category to implement the death penalty are those in which the accused has killed or attempted to kill someone. It is in this context that the issue is most often discussed.
There are many who defend the right to life of the accused murderer or attempted murderer in these cases, but such a defense can be attacked on two points:
- The concept of a right in itself is a front for someone to get their way across, the reason for this being that rights are paraded as open-ended concepts, as ideals, but ideals never get their idealization out of thin air. So, there is a vested interest whenever rights or ideals are mentioned on the part of he or she who is mentioning them.
- Even allowing for rights, the perpetrator has removed the relevance of rights from the situation when he or she ignores the supposed right to life and value of the victim. Rights cannot matter in a case wherein all pretenses for them to mean anything have been removed. The criminal in question has stepped out of the “right” to value and life and placed themselves at odds to it.
Applying the concept of an idealistic right to a murderer or similar criminal is as if an old termite ridden beam was kept in a structure that housed people out of concerns for preserving antiquity. Such is dangerous thinking, since, maybe the structure will be able to stay in its original form for a bit longer, but it puts people in danger and no one would ever actually do such a thing. Murderers and similar criminals have made themselves into termite ridden beams to which normal concerns no longer apply. They are past the realm of being able to fix.
As a related point, persons placing themselves at odds with the life value of other people does not just imply murderers. The category of criminals here mentioned includes human traffickers, meaning those who actively deal in modern day slavery and those who formally benefit from the same, and it includes persons such as rapists.
Using capital punishment in such cases as these may seem radical, but when the value of a victim’s life is negotiable, something is terribly wrong. When the question must be asked as to what to do with an individual who has threatened or destroyed the value of life or that life itself for any number of people, the preeminence of blind ideals of rights must be seriously questioned.
Every Jew is threatened when a terrorist - who has killed or threatened to kill Jews - is allowed to go free or live. Every young person is threatened when a child trafficker is allowed to go free with the simple condition of being placed on a “watch list.” I have previously written as to the need to eliminate the terror watch list mentality from Western counterterrorism measures and to take dangerous ideologies seriously, and a similar sentiment applies here, as any serious threat to the life of any person must be taken seriously for any positivity to come about. Such taking seriously demands the usage of a death penalty in appropriate cases.
(Image: St Jerome - Caravaggio)
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]