Publicizing Execution Of The Death Penalty

1340 words - 5 pages

"Punishment," writes McTaggart, "is pain and to inflict pain on any person obviously needs justification." But if the need to justify punishment is obvious, the manner of doing so is not. In fact, there is a wide variety of opinion on the single issue of publicizing execution. For example, Even though Sister Helen Prejean, a spiritual advisor who worked with death row inmates wrote the deeply moving novel Dead Man Walking, her ideas to make a difference may be impractical wishes to others. In addition, Prejean finds the moral cost of death penalty too damaging to tolerate, and thus she believes those death row inmates who "have died a thousand times already" deserve to die and stop suffering from "their anticipation of the final horror" when their time comes. (Dead Man Walking, Prejean) As far as Prejean's idea of "publicizing executions" go, she believes that seeing these executions may help the pro-death penalty people to understand the cruelty of such punishment. However, the affect of morality and religious beliefs on the opinion of death penalty and the "executions as entertainments" suggested in many articles questions Prejean's hypothesis: Would all people really become against the death penalty when such execution is publicized? Besides pity, what makes people change their opinions on the crucial issue of death penalty? And in the long run, would public executions violate the respect for human life by numbing the citizens?

When all else is not an option and the problem boils down to the issue of life, there are rarely uneducated people who are determined about their opinion and are able to analyze their opinion with logical reasoning. Confusions and insecurity often leads people to "find out if [there's] something [they] should believe in," (Death by Firing Squad Under the Gun, Knickerbocker) whether it is morality or religious beliefs. Because "it is the business of Ethics as a science to do the same thing as `the man in the street' is doing when he wonders what is the use of punishment and whether it can make anyone better, only to do it systematically, thoroughly, precisely." (The Morality of Punishment, Ewing) In other words, in order to avoid our own confusions, many of us wish to prove the validity of their opinions scientifically--we would like to reason our thoughts based on a developed theory. And conveniently, many religions provide sets of religious codes for people to follow. Take the early Mormon leaders for example, they may have "talked of the need for `blood atonement," or the redemption of sins through the spilling of blood, for heinous crimes," (Death by Firing Squad Under the Gun, Knickerbocker) and thus firing squad is kept only in Utah and Idaho where high percentages of Mormons reside. In the case of a Utah inmate, John Albert Taylor, he had the choice to die with the execution of the firing squad or lethal injection, and even though lethal injections are considered the more humane way to be executed, Taylor...

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