Bring back the Death Penalty
I accept the Instigator’s challenge, and I thank him for posting this issue.
Round 1: Introduction of positions.
Round 2: Arguments Pro/Con (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals I
Round 4: Rebuttals II
Round 5: Closing statements
My position is that there should be no death penalty, imposed by the state, for convicted murderers and pedophiles.
My opponent has stated that he is of the view that "an eye for an eye" is fair recourse. I do not accept this premise personally, but I will point out that his argument is inconsistent with his own philosophy, as pedophilia does not include murder or killing. Therefore, the argument that the death sentence is a valid response to pedophilia is, by my opponent's reasoning, untenable, regardless of any "life sentence" carried by the victims of pedophiles' crimes.
The "eye for an eye" position of my opponent does hold for murder, but there are several factors to be considered as well.
Moral views differ both within a society and between societies, but the idea of mob justice is generally held to be a bad one in modern societies. Unless my opponent is for mob justice as a means of running a legal system, meaning he is Pro mob justice in every criminal case or perceived wrong, then we can only assume that a purely democratic means of determining punishment is not correct, and may even be immoral.
In light of this, the death penalty must be seen as immoral and wrong because it not only violates the fundamental human right to life given espoused in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act of 1998, but it goes contrary to the notion found in the HRA 1998 that such right can be revoked simply because a sovereign state follows its own procedures to revoke said rights. I could declare that anyone entering my household is to be hanged, but this would not make it fundamentally right or moral. My entire household could agree with me, but this does not change that fact.
Government-sanctioned death penalties are simply this same ideal on a larger scale. The belief that someone should be deprived of life because the majority says so (or an elected or unelected body espousing the views of a majority) is simply wrong, regardless of rationalizing it.
True, there is the issue of public safety to contend with, so there is a reasonable expectation of others to be protected from murderers, which is why there are prisons and other means of detention, but my opponent has asserted that time spent will likely amount to ten years or less. Without citation, I cannot speak to the veracity of this statement, but it is not a fundamental argument for the death penalty, but rather is suggestive of the need for reform in the prison system.
We don't have mob rule or justice meted out by a majority, we have a justice system that has taken many years to develop and indeed will probably continue developing well past our lifetime. The principle of an eye for an eye in the justice system would then mean the victims rights are considered above the rights of perpetrators which is not before time!
The only alternative in sentencing would to reform both the justice and prison services so that sentencing matches the crime, a murderer or pedophile for instance would be sentenced to life without parole. But this option does not really give proper justice to the victims, therefore the only real sentence that balances the books so to speak is a sentence of death.
In cases of pedophilia:
A "life sentence" is a very subjective thing to say RE: the victim of crime. It is also an emotional appeal. Mental illness is very much up-in-the-air as to whether all cases have a biological component or not (see: http://www.apa.org...). As such, my opponent cannot simply claim that every victim will have a "life sentence," nor can he equate the subjective nature of such a diagnosis with an objective standard calling for death in response as a definitively equal punishment.
An eye for an eye is meant to provide equal retribution when applied. As such, it fails in the cases of pedophilia. Strictly speaking, were "an eye for an eye" applied to those cases, it would mean that another pedophile would have had to have violated the pedophile being sentenced when he was a child. It's simply not a valid case for an argument of "an eye for an eye."
My opponent's assertations of "spiritual" and "mental" death are just as subjective, and as such are too vague to allow the scenarios one would normally call "fair" in a justice system.
As a further obstacle to my opponent's rationale, there has been no case made for depriving a convicted pedophile of life who may be suffering from his own bouts of mental illness. This seems to be an egregious bit of oversight.
I reassert: In cases of pedophilia, though the crime is reprehensible, death is not a valid punishment under the idea of equal retribution.
In cases of murder:
My point RE: mob rule merely asserted that certain rights inherent in humans (the right to life specifically here) are not subject to the whims of a political or other majority. In the end, this is what sentencing boils down to: that which the system (which is run by people) agrees upon as fair. However, the same system can be stacked by those in authority (see: http://www.theguardian.com...) regardless of the overall fairness. As such, sentencing which would literally end the life of a human allows far too much subjectivity and emotion into the process.
For example, if a gunman were to murder my wife, it would not be a legitimate or legal response for me to follow the criminal home and murder him in retribution. I, too, would be guilty of murder. Likewise, if I got ten or twenty of my friends together and followed the gunman home and beat him to death, we would all be guilty of murder. This principle holds true if I murder him with an hundred of my friends, or a thousand accomplices. So, why is it somehow justifiable when an entire country does so under the guise of a justice system?
My opponent has asserted that life without parole "does not really give proper justice to the victims," but that is plain assertion. It is extremely subjective. What if one from a group of pacifists is murdered? If the death penalty is given, then is not improper justice done, since (under my opponent's assertions) it provides retribution for the family which find the very same retribution morally reprehensible?
Aside: the notion of friends and loved ones of a murder victim also being victims is emotionally appealing, but it is not based in fact. I do not have a fundamental right to be near any specific person. If my parents decided to disown me, I would not have legal standing to get them back in my life except in the rarest of circumstances. As such, simply being deprived of another's presence, however permanent, is not a crime. The only true victim, from an objective standpoint, in a murder is the murder victim. Basing sentencing on the victim's "survived bys" amounts to revenge, and that is hardly a socially acceptable ethic, nor is it what would generally be considered civilized.
Therefore, despite my opponent tossing aside the notion of life sentences, there is not much in the way of a case that stands up against it as a logical to death penalty. As I've already pointed out, it amounts to vengeance and mob justice to deprive a person of life as retribution. Certainly a murderer has broken this rule individually, but the concept of an eye for an eye does not resolve the problem, as it passes the same crime on to the justice system and/or society (depending on how one wishes to view it). As Ghandi pointed out, "An eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye . . . ends in making everybody blind."
All in all, my opponent has a very emotionally appealing argument, but arguing from emotion alone is a logical fallacy; additionally, he has discounted the point that government imposing a rule against an individual (by definition, a minority in any country) can be viewed as mob rule, especially when fundamental rights are violated.
As one additional, but meaningful, point, my opponent has asked (and I paraphrase), "But what of the victim's fundamental rights?" Unfortunately, this is a false dichotomy. The violation of one person's rights does not legitimize the violation of another's.
While I under stand your various arguments regarding murder, hundreds of scenarios could be put together either to justify the murder or the sentence. I believe that there is only one true act that justice can provide on this issue and that is the death penalty. this maybe emotional, but murder is emotional at least for the victims families and friends. After all real justice requires people to suffer for their wrongdoing, and to suffer in a way appropriate for the crime. Each criminal should get what their crime deserves and in the case of a murderer what their crime deserves is death.
As for governments making law that's part of what we put them there for, and if you don't like the laws they are making you remove them from office at the earliest opportunity.
As for violating the murderer or pedophiles human rights, its is my opinion that they gave up these rights when they committed the offence.
Another thing to consider In one year in New York 85% of those arrested for murder had been arrested for murder before http://www.almac.co.uk... surely if they had been put to death other lives would have been saved.
Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or after being released from it. It can also be seen as a deterrent, if you look at the following website http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org... it looks at 3 counties examples.
My opponent posits that I have "no understanding on the affects [sic] of being abused by a pedophile." The listed symptoms and results are, in fact, familiar to me. They are not the "death sentence" my opponent seems to imply that they are, however, and this argument still boils down to emotional appeal. Furthermore, my opponent has asserted that rape in other cultures demands death of the rapist. Rape in some other cultures also demands the death of the rape victim. By my opponent's logic in that particular thought, we would be justified in killing the victims of pedophilia also. I cannot accept that premise. Simply because someone else's culture does something does not make it an example to live up to.
If there are so many scenarios that will show the death penalty as a good thing for murderer, I would ask my opponent to present the most convincing one(s), that I might actually engage in discussion on them. Without that, it is pure speculation, and I cannot argue against pure opinion and speculation. Beyond that, an emotional act does not necessarily justify an emotional response; to do so, especially when another life is at stake, seems to me a grossly negligent system of justice. If we do not use reason alone, or at least attempt to do so, we introduce far too much bias to have a fair justice system.
My opponent also claimed that "real justice requires people to suffer for their wrongdoing." I absolutely do not acept this as a legitimate statement. According to Merriam-Webster, "justice" is "the maintenance of administration of what is just . . . " and "just' is:
1: having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason
2(a): acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good
2(b): being what is merited
None of these mentions suffering at all. 2(a) specifically mentions moral uprightness and goodness, and my opponent has not successfully refuted my position that the death penalty is immoral. My opponent's entire position is self-admittedly based on opinion and emotion, therefore 1 does not apply, and there has been nothing to demonstrably convince that an eye-for-an-eye is merited.
My opponent's statements imply that one can simply vote governments out that create immoral laws, but what if one is in the minority? At one time, there was a minority in most countries that thought human slavery to be immoral. Does that suddenly make the laws RE: slavery across the world that were upheld by majority just (according to the definition)? Of course not. This is something of a strawman argument that does not address my actual points on government.
My opponent has mentioned a statistic for 85% of those arrested for murder having been arrested before. My opponent also fails to provide verifiable statistics on whether these were "convicted murderers" or simply people who had been previously arrested. It makes no case whatsoever if 99% of that 85% had been previously arrested but released, acquitted, or otherwise not convicted.
There is no argument that a dead person cannot commit any further crimes. I never intended to make that argument. However, my opponent has failed to show how this makes it a right, just, good, etc. thing to kill someone in vengeance, even if permissible by government.
The issue is one of simply the right level of justice for the crime committed. However, current justice in the UK does not give murderers or pedophiles a sentence proportionate to their crime.
Point 1. Pedophiles are often sentenced to only a few years
Point 2. Murderers don't always serve life in prison. While the mandatory sentence in life in prison, offenders often get out after 10 years of serving their sentence, or get reduced sentences because of plea bargaining. Unfortunately life does not mean life which would go at least some way to being proportionate to the crime.
Point 3. Prisoners rights are held at a higher value than the victim or that of their family or friends.
For justice to work it must balance the rights of the victim, the crime, and what would be a justifiable and proportionate sentence for the offender. In my view for either Murderer or Pedophile the only proportionate sentence can be the death penalty.
There are plenty of moral good doers out there, but all they do is weaken the Justice system and the rights of the Victim, a point to consider on Human rights is that the offender has denied the victim the very same set of rights that moral crusaders think offenders deserve, to the live their lives.
My opponent has primarily offered emotional appeal throughout this debate. While his zeal is laudable, the lack of logical basis makes the Pro stance tenuous at best. The links provided merely back up these points, but they do not change the nature of the debate.
Certainly punishments should fit their respective crimes, but a lack of harsh enough punishment does not necessarily equate to the harshest of punishment's being viable or right. While one could serve only a year or two in prison for a murder (and most would agree this is wrong), that does not mean one should skip over decades or life in prison without parole and head straight to death.
I will simply restate the non-existence of a true equity between pedophiles and the death penalty as "just' punishment, and let my previous arguments against the death penalty stand.