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What Would Scotty Say About The Death Penalty

 

The recent execution of Troy Davis, convicted of murder twenty-two years ago in Georgia has  reawakened the issue of the death penalty and brought it to public consciousness. Does termination of life constitute a rational way of averting murder, a form of retribution felt to be based more on revenge than justice.

Many who support the death penalty are also pro-life when it comes to abortion. Mr. Spock would submit that this is illogical. Life is life, whether it’s a sinned life or an innocent one. Kirk might respond, “But life is not logical, Mr. Spock, the truth lies somewhere between instinct and unknowable forces that come to play when conditions are right.”

Scotty would say in a heavy Scottish accent, “Aye, but ya gotta look at this as a mechanical problem. Society is like a star ship floating around with all the  gravitational forces pulling the hull in all sorts of directions. If one system in the ship fails to work the way its supposed to, then it can run adrift and get caught up in unidentified cosmic things like a wormhole, losing control of navigation, pulled into that black demon and spit out in an alternate reality where people are put to death because of overpopulation. How do you choose who lives and who dies?”

 

Gandalf might say, “Many that live deserve to die. Some that die deserve life, can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be so eager to deal out death and judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

The Bible says in Matthew 5:38-40 “You have heard that it was said, ‘eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

If a child asks , “But suppose the person who was struck on the right cheek hit someone else first, where does it begin and where does it end?  Society might say, “Listen to the sermon and when you grow up, you can be the one to decide what is the truth and what is not.” On the other hand a wise person might add in a calm reassuring tone, “But keep all hailing frequencies open.”

Putting aside the criminal justice system and its flaws, many would agree, if not swayed by prejudice or anger, and in the privacy of their own thoughts,  that putting someone on trial for murder with the death penalty as an option for the jurors to choose isn’t the best way insure that justice is served. The only thing worse is executing someone without a fair trial even if they are innocent. “Someone has to pay for this.” In this instance, guilt or innocence becomes less important than the process of putting the whole thing to rest until another compelling case again reawakens the issue once again.