Wednesday, December 15, 2004

death penalty: a big social irritant


The intrinsic question about the justice or injustice of the death penalty, the continuing doubt about its deterrent effect or otherwise, the ardent dissent between the pro-life and pro-death groups—all these are the more salient ethical factors that is making the public killing of criminals a big social irritant in the country these days.

This social situational reality is to be expected. Reason: Human life is the greatest asset men and women, children and babies—the unborn included—can have and hold. For without life, what is there to think and talk about, to resolve and act on?

Such is the significance and implications of human life that even the three branches of government are at odds with one another. The legislature wants the law it enacted to be applied. The judiciary feels constrained to observe the law notwithstanding its big reservations about it. The executive is torn between the legal and moral dimensions of the law, between the imperative of law and the dictate of conscience.

The death penalty is now also the cause of strong public dissent among the people—shouting contradictory slogans, bearing contrasting placards, advocating discordant principles about life and death, about justice and human rights.

Those demanding and expecting executions are angry when these do not take place. And when they actually take place, those defending life are resentful. Needless to say, this is a very unpleasant and unhealthy social circumstance obtaining in one nation, among one people, with one government.

Meantime there is now the so-called “conscience committee” that could be tempted into looking at the points of law and the force of facts—instead of simply considering the humanitarian angles in the life of death convicts. The barbaric death penalty law is the root problem. It is time to get rid of it.

23 October 1999