"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The death penalty, questions

I know much of the world, including friends and other  "liberals" in this country, are appalled that many states in America still have a "death penalty," marking us  as uncivilized, and alongside the atrocities of certain totalitarian (North Korea) and fundamentalist religious countries elsewhere, especially in the "Mideast."
I'm no longer a "conservative"--whatever that means--and  am ambivalent about the death penalty. I know it has been used unjustly and racially in this country, and I'm opposed to that. I also know that it often costs more to eventually execute a person than put them away for life. Given the "political atrocity" and embarrassment in Oklahoma with Mary Fallin's hurry-up attitude in the last execution, concerns about the death penalty are usually justified.
But.
Sometimes there are crimes of such horror, of such evil, that I believe a death penalty is more than justified.
 I know that we're not in the Old West anymore, where rustlers and criminals can be hanged on the spot, as in "Lonesome Dove," and the changes to our legal system are the marks of a more civilized society. Technology is changing all of this also. When we have video-taped and other digital evidence of some of these crimes, I contend it is infantile and ridiculous to refer to such criminals as "suspects."
When there is no doubt, stand by what the Constitution calls for,  a "speedy" trial.
Sometimes evil needs to be eradicated. Why should evil that causes so much misery be allowed to live on taxpayer dollars?  Timothy McVeigh? Hitler? Osama Ben Laden? Or an Oklahoma son who murders his family? 

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