I’ve always been against the death penalty. Recently, I asked myself why. You see, I formed this opinion when I was pretty young. Maybe it’s time to reconsider.
There is one reason to be against the death penalty that is so strong that it vaccinates you against further discussion:
The wrong guy might get hanged.
There are so many examples of that that it’s a very valid argument. You can’t go around hanging innocent people. You must be absolutely sure, which you seldom can be. Okay. But let’s say we can, in order to force ourselves to take a stand beyond the practical aspects. Then, my argument used to be:
But it’s always wrong to take a human’s life!
Okay. It sounded good when I was 20, but now I got to ask myself: Why is it always wrong to take a human’s life? I don’t think I ever answered that one. I think I had this opinion because everyone else did, and because it made me look like an altruistic person.
In principle, disregarding the first argument about hanging the wrong guy, I think there’s a point with the death penalty. I think so because it has existed in so many cultures throughout history. Such widespread phenomena, that exist in cultures otherwise geographically and chronologically separated, usually have a point. (The similar ways in which different cultures have related to boys historically does, for example.) Sometimes it’s hard to see the point, but with the death penalty it’s pretty obvious: By killing off a dangerous person, you save your species.
Being against the death penalty in principle is in a way a luxury. You have nothing to lose. And you’re looked upon as a good person which means you can get laid easier. But if put to the test, let’s say I lived in the stone age and was part of a tribe of a hundred people, I’d say we kill the one who kills us! It’s a matter of survival.
And don’t worry, I’m still against the death penalty for the practical reasons I mentioned above.
Why this post? I think it has to do with my coming to terms with the fact that Japan, the country I’m obsessing about lately, has the death penalty.