Here’s a link that spells out the biblical justifications for the death penalty: http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/punish.html
The fact that the majority of the most religiously afflicted and I agree on this issue doesn’t trouble me in the least, because while we are in some level of agreement, we reach the same conclusion for totally different reasons.
I imagine that at this moment my more genteel, socially evolved and progressive readers are horrified and champing at the bit [yes...it’s “champing” not “chomping”] ready to post a comment declaring me a troglodyte and throwback. But, before you lambaste me let me be more specific as to my position so you can lambaste me for the right reasons and with full understanding.
First: I do not applaud Texass [not a misspelling] for holding the country’s title for most executions of any state. I condemn them. In 2006 Texass accounted for 60% of the nation’s executions. They currently represent somewhere about 35% of annual US executions. It is obscene, wanton. It is disturbingly applied more often to minorities, and is virtually necessitated by certain laws and by certain politics not the least of which is the unique way appellate judges find themselves in office in that state. Here’s the whole ugly story about why Texass is the capital punishment capitol of the nation, if you’re interested: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/execution/readings/texas.html
I do not endorse capital punishment for every murderer, or even most murderers. Shooting your spouse or neighbor during an argument; killing someone during an armed robbery; a gang banger or drug dealer blowing away an opposing gang member, or competitor drug dealer; and others, are all run of the mill examples of murder. Life behind bars, with or without the possibility of parole works fine for me. Maybe they can be rehabilitated, and the likelihood of their committing additional murders while in prison is low or moderate. As far as I’m concerned candidates for execution by the state must be exceptional by virtue of their depravity.
What’s depraved enough in my opinion to justify the death penalty? Here are a few examples, not necessarily a complete list:
-Home invasions where the victim or victims are raped and/or tortured and killed. -Wanton intentional mass murder of innocent people by arson or any method.
-Serial murderers and serial child rapists.
And in all cases the fact of the defendant’s guilt must be totally beyond reproach ... that is, the trial is on the level of a formality. Examples: the Aurora, CO movie theater murderer. Or the Boston marathon bomber. Or the confessed Connecticut home invasion perpetrators a few years back, who tortured, raped, burned alive and murdered an entire family … save the father who survived.
You see, to me these people have no reasonable chance for “redemption.” I have zero interest in pursuing their rehabilitation. Am I seeking revenge for their crimes? Yep…guilty! Revenge is a normal human emotion, I feel no need to suppress nor deny it. The death of society’s most horrific fiends is cathartic.
Am I devaluing human life? On the contrary. The proper application of the death penalty reinforces the value of those human lives that abide by societies mores, who respected the right of others to live ones life well and to its full term / natural conclusion. It only devalues the lives of those to whom societies mores and the societal convention of living a good life means less than nothing and worthy only of their contempt, or just utter disregard. Thus those criminal’s lives ARE of less value. People who oppose the death penalty for these uniquely grotesque deviants are the ones devaluing the lives of their innocent victims, in my opinion of course.
I don’t care that capital punishment is more expensive than incarceration. It’s only more expensive because we let it be more expensive. I do not hold the lives of such people to be special by virtue of their specie. They deserve no more consideration than would a rabid dog terrorizing your neighborhood; indeed, perhaps less so, since the dog isn’t acting out of malice or for its gratification or a political or religious agenda.
Yes, I understand that among many atheists this position - while not truly unique - is harsh & unpopular, considered something of an anomaly. But atheist means “having no belief in God/gods” period. So, I respectfully invite you to lambaste away – I’m good with it.