Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Death for Us All

The state of Utah is preparing to kill someone, and it is slowly making me crazy.

I do not condone the actions of Ronnie Lee Gardner. He killed two people, and critically injured another. He admits to it. He has never really sincerely apologized for his actions, blaming them instead on his childhood, and drug abuse. He is not what I would call a "good guy." However, that doesn't mean he should be murdered in a spectacle that is beginning to rival that of a circus.

This execution is bringing out the grim aspects of humanity. At a commutation hearing earlier this week two family members of one of Gardner's victims pumped their fists when his appeal was denied. Local newspapers, and television stations, are doing multiple stories every day. As the execution day grows near national media are joining them. Gardner's every move is being cataloged, and transmitted in press releases. People are vying for seats in the execution chamber. All of it is being rapidly devoured by the public. They are eating up blood lust, pure and simple. And they are calling it justice.

I think that's the worst part for me. This idea that the state sanctioned killing of a man is justice. I thought society was supposed to try and raise people up, not kowtow to their basest instincts. I thought we were supposed to work together to push forward, and not resort to methods of the past that obviously have never worked. After all, if eye for an eye really is a deterrent, shouldn't murder already be a thing of the past?

Also, I don't see how this isn't cruel and unusual punishment. Telling someone you are going to kill them, and that people are going to watch them be killed? Letting them count down the hours and days? Telling them everyone around them knows they will be killed, but that no one can help them? Replace "state" with "psycho" and that is the basis of a great horror movie. Eli Roth could direct.

I'm just glad I don't have to explain this to my daughter.



Anonymous said...

I just think it's crazy that we get outraged by people who murder yet we are happy to punish them by doing exactly the same thing. Hypocrite much? I don't think anyone has the right to take a life except in self defence, whether they're a serial killer or the state. Surely we're supposed to be LESS barbaric than those people?

Ca88andra said...

I'm totally against the death penalty. There has to be a better way. There have to be better ways to prevent crime. Good post.

G said...

I'm sure to be in the minority among your readers about the death penalty, but I can see the same tired arguments being made in the comments already.

I am pro death penalty, and what these two commenters seemed to lose sight of in their over-excited hyperbole is what the victims of these murderers want.

They want justice.

Problem is with today's version of justice is that there are so many layers of appeals that it can be decades before someone is put to death.

And even if a murderer somehow decides to accept his fate and his sentence, people like these commenters will find a way to derail them, often at the expense of the victims (See Robert Chatgny's reprehensible actions during Michael Ross's execution in Connecticut back in 2004/05 that probably won't derail his confirmation to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals).

This is the reality of life. As much as it might pain everyone, people should not be able to get away with murder.

Do you want to see someone like Richard Ramirez outlive everyone who put him on death row in California for a string of murders, and support him with your tax dollars that could be better spent elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

And we're only ONE of the the "civilized" countries who even have the death penalty. I understand that people want justice. But is killing someone really justice? I don't get the logic in that. Obviously, you can't let a rapist or murderer just walk the streets, but how is killing another person getting justice for the person who was killed in YOUR life? That makes no sense. To me, anyway.
And with the appeals, which you NEED to have, hello Innocence Project, it's more expensive than keeping someone in prison for life. Perhaps we need to stop putting people in prison for things like marijuana possession....

Oops....did I ramble?

Granny Annie said...

I have had a gun to my head in a bank robbery and was held as a hostage.

Two sets of parents, friends of mine, had their children placed in a car trunk and burned alive.

My banking mentor, a woman of 80, was taken from her home after volunteering at the local hospital, robbed, raped, beaten and killed and a young man nearby hearing her screams ran to her aid and was killed also for his act of bravery.

Another set of parents, also friends of mine, had two of their sons killed in a home invasion.

The trials and appeals took many years and the families of these victims had to attend court over and over and hear the stories over and over and feel their grief over and over. Then there is the matter of cost that our taxpayer dollars that went to provide for the trials of these viscous people while next we pay for their continued life in prison.

Can you guess my "barbaric" choice for these heartless criminals?

just making my way said...

A polarizing subject, to be sure. I'm sorry it's turned into such a media circus - and sorry that our society seems to have become that way. Although, lots of people would gather around for be-headings back in the day, so I think it's always piqued people's curiosity. Sad but true.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

"The idea that the state sanctioned killing of a man is justice." Or lawful.

That says it all. Insanity.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

The death penalty hasn't stopped any killings yet. Since it got reinstated in the late '70's murders have not declined much at all. The only time I am in favor of it is when someone rapes, abuses, or murders a child.

Heather said...

Murder rates and violent crime rates have steadily gone down. But not because of the death penalty. I believe the timing of the decline coincides with the 18-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Another hotbed discussion for another day.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with the death penalty and my country thankfully doesn't have it, we are dealing with the other end of the spectrum right now. Karla Holmolka is able to apply for a pardon. She has served her sentence and our country allows for anyone, regardless of crime, apply for a pardon after 5 years of their served sentence. At this very minute (but not for very much longer) our pardon system does not have the authority to deny a pardon based on the nature of the crime. THAT is awful to me.

If you don't know who Karla Holmolka is

Our government is working TODAY to pass a bill very quickly that will change the system so she is denied the pardon.

To those who advocate the death penalty, I think it is a far worse punishment to force the criminal to live with their crimes and the consequences in jail and out in the world once their sentence is over.

Riot Kitty said...

I've tried to type this comment a few times w/my cat walking over a keyboard...I just don't think a government should have that kind of power. Look at China - they execute more people than the entire total of the rest of the world each year, and most people are tortured into confessing to crimes they didn't commit. Think that can't happen here? Look at Guantanamo.

I don't think it's our role to play God.

And look at all of the people who have been exonerated by DNA evidence...and the fact that many states won't accept DNA evidence.

Little Girl Big Glasses said...

I don't know the answer, but I hate the media circus. It's haunting. On a brighter, and weirder note, though? I had a dream last night that for some reason you had to do something in Denver. You contacted me and asked me to watch Meg, which I was super excited about - until she was here and hungry and I couldn't get her to eat anything. Then, my husband, who doesn't read ANY blogs said, "Gah, don't you read Libby's blog? They're vegan. Stop trying to give Meg regular food." And I"m all "REALLY?" So I'm searching through your old posts looking for pictures of you feeding Meg something,because I couldn't think of anything "vegan" and I have no idea how it ended because I woke up. Anyway, I'm sorry I'm apparently a shitty babysitter.

Karlyn said...

Thank you for this post. I love it when I find fellow Utahns that feel the same way I do.

LL Cool Joe said...

I'm against the death penalty too and I totally agree with what you've written. 2 wrongs don't make a right.

Of course here in the Uk we don't have the death penalty, but I do believe that life imprisonment, should be just

Anonymous said...

We were watching the Tudors just the other day and my friend was saying how crazy it was that they watched people burn at the stake, and be bound and quartered, and beheaded for their crimes. And I said, people like to watch lethal injections now... it's pretty much the same thing right? And so it is.

China said...

I would agree that a public execution brings out the worst in some. Witnesses should only be there to ensure the execution is carried out properly - not for the spectacle of revenge.
I don't agree with the comment that the State taking a life is the same as an individual doing it. The State decision is supposed to be made based on law, reason, and justice. A government entity going through a formal process to determine the fate of a criminal is very different from a private citizen deciding to kill someone.
AND the comment that lethal injection is like being bound and quartered or burned at the stake?- No way!-Far more cruel, painful, and spectacular. Lethal injection is at least intended to be painless and quick without carnage.
Isn't spending a lifetime confined in prison cruel also, but sometimes necessary?

Anonymous said...

It made the news here too and things rarely make the news here... It is terrible that this still goes on. Bad enough that it happens but people queuing to see it happen is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Her said...

I remember having a sick feeling even as a kid when I heard about executions. I grew up in Texas, so that happened on a fairly regular basis, and I was definitely in the minority for opposing them wholeheartedly. It baffles me that we continue to utilize them--there's no evidence that they serve as a deterrent. It's frustrating.

L.A. Harker said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one in our newsroom that feels this way. I felt like the odd one out. I felt like... a Canadian. Thanks for sharing Libby.