Alright, so this was inspired a bit by Rogue Priest’s posting of an article about the death penalty. He’s against the death penalty, and the writer of the article he was re-posting was anti-death penalty (though looking at what abolishing the death penalty was actually going to do, which was interesting). But it got me thinking about some stuff I’d mused over the Death Penalty.
I’m actually pro-death penalty. For a number of reasons. I believe in an afterlife, so I don’t really think you’re robbing anyone of their existence, just their life on this plain. Which, considering the things you have to do get the death penalty, doesn’t sound like that unreasonable a thing to do.
I know a lot of people say a good reason to get rid of the death penalty (in addition to its “inhumanity”) is the fact that it is prohibitively expensive. When I found that out, I was a little surprised by the fact that people were willing to put a price tag on the limits of justice, but I suppose in these days of 14 trillion dollar debt, pennies (or dollars) matter, and I’m willing to concede that point.
Of course, we have to remember why the death penalty started, which was for two main reasons. One was because in the past, society didn’t have the resources, or desire, to spend tons of money keeping alive people who were a detriment to society. While major civilizations could do this, most tribal civilizations couldn’t, and the simple desire for revenge wouldn’t let them. Of course, we live in a major civilization “with” the resources to contain and keep our criminals alive, including those on “death row.” How long we stay that way is questionable, but beyond the scope of this article.
The second reason is one no one talks about. This is due largely to a fact that thanks to science, most people (even Christians) no longer treat the spiritual real, vital, and effecting our world. People often ascribe the death penalty to a human need of vengeance against those that hurt our loved ones. They disregard the fact that human vengeance often enough was as much about getting vengeance for the dead so the dead wouldn’t take their vengeance upon the living (especially their relatives who had failed to get them justice). It was believed, pretty much universally, that those who died violently, and were not appeased with the death of their murderer, would curse the land and their families with their rage.
Being a Heathen, knowing well the power of ancestors and spirits, I see no reason why this would be different now. Is murder any more pleasant than it used to be? Nope. In fact, it’s just as horrible, going by the stories I see and read. No, what is different is how we view the dead, how we treat the dead, and how once you’re dead, everyone assumes you’re either off in a better place, or you don’t exist, and thus cannot effect people here in any way other than the emotional attachments they have left. In a murder trial, more is done to assure the rights of the murderer than in the rights of the Murdered. And after the trial, if there is a conviction, there’s decades of appeals. The reason the Death Penalty costs so much is because it takes soooo long to get through it to the final execution. I don’t want to see innocent people killed, but seriously.
I wonder, sometimes, what that does, spiritually. I don’t think life imprisonment satisfies the dead. At least, not as we have it now. Admittedly, life imprisonment is no cake walk, sometimes being a life of 23 hour a day lock down where you’re stuck in something like a 10×10 cell. (Which really sounds worse than death, when you think about it). But I think half the reason the dead don’t take vengeance on the living is because they take it on their killer, or are pacified by the Gods bringing retribution on their behalf. Now, though, with so many murders unsolved and killers left unkilled or sometimes just pleaded down to lesser crimes, just to get them into prison. Or not even that.
How many ghosts are out there, roaming about, seeking vengeance? How angry are they? Do they curse this land? I don’t know. But I do know that there are places I will not go if I can help it, because those killed have not seen retribution done for them. And really, I rather loath going to metropolises. I can only imagine how many angry spirits remain in such places.
I think it is because of science and its constantly insisting that the spiritual doesn’t exist, that we no longer consider the dead and the spirits, how they’d feel, and what they would do to us for not killing their murderers. I wonder what form their vengeance will take. I wonder what they will say to us in the afterlife, wanting to know why we didn’t avenge them. Somehow, I doubt “humanity” and “saving money” are going to cut it.