Is capital punishment warranted? Or is “the death penalty overdoing it” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151)? Are murderers entitled to compassion? Those who argue for commutation (or for life), would usually appeal to our emotions without realizing their hindering justice. For as Yale computer science professor, David Gelernter stresses “In executing murderers, we should be declaring [as a society] that deliberate murder is evil and intolerable,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). For indeed, it is. Worse, such crimes are humiliation to God-fearing communities and an insult to a “civilized society” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151).
Thus, those who critique Gelernter, as being once a victim of a heinous crime that he’s just bitter–(Hinman, 2013, p. 147) are wrong. In fact, Gelernter even emphasizes that “If our goal were [solely] vengeance, we would allow the grieving parties to decide,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). Sadly, if that happens, “We would call the whole thing off,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). From this statement alone we can infer, despite all the injuries (of his soul and body) that he sustained, to this day, Gelernter remains constructive and not vindictive.
For the truth is, “Our big cities are full murders at large” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). What’s more alarming, “political scientist John J. Dilulio, Jr.” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) claims approximately half-a-million murders are happening in the United States. (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) And again, Gelernter could be right that we are to blame. One best justification is the case of “Theodore Kaczynski” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151). Amid “pleading guilty (in three murder cases) and striking anew;” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) he continue to cast his horrors and terrors in the society; but he “will not be executed,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) why? Undoubtedly, emotion is such a good criminal attorney.
In regards to Jeffrey Reiman’s opposition to death penalty, as Gelernter strongly argues, it’s not about vengeance. Hence, I disagree with his commentary in Page 156. That to justify capital punishment, we have to apply the adage: “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth . . . ” (Hinman, 2013. For as a society, we need not justify ourselves in asserting our rights.
Finally, capital punishment is a strong consensual statement; and there’s no turning back. For the death penalty aims not just to give justice to a loss of life, but to ensure the safety of many. Now, with commutations here and there, perhaps we should reflect: Are we truly being human? Because it seems the other way around. For what could be more cruel and inhumane than to put others at risk? Just because we sympathize with one, we can disregard what happened and the likelihood of its recurrence? Perhaps when in doubt: We need to think deeper and feel broader, to find murder as a crime against all of us. For indeed, in executing capital punishment–we have the moral obligation to declare: “Deliberate murder is evil and intolerable” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). And we don’t have room for such.
Hinman, Lawrence M. (2013). Contemporary Moral Issues Diversity and Consensus, 146-151.