The Death Penalty


Cases that try your belief

I am and have been a lifelong opponent of Capital Punishment. I do not believe in the cold and deliberate taking of life. I do not believe in the taking of life, period, but I recognise that there are circumstances where it is necessary: to protect oneself and, sometimes more importantly, to protect others.

It’s a stance combining with simple, instinctive belief and, in the case of death sentences, the grounded fact that I do not trust myself with the power of life and death over anyone, so I’m sure as hell not going to trust you.

But as I grow older, the more I find cases where my principles are tested, where the urge to say that a particular killer or killers should be disposed of, grow more frequent.

Today, Thomas Mair, who killed the MP Jo Cox in June, was found guilty of murder, as indeed was inevitable. He has been sentenced to Life, the mandatory sentence, and given a ‘Whole-Life’ tariff. He will die behind bars.

There cannot be any doubt that this is right and proper. But in this instance, and for all my principles, I cannot help but think that the old fashioned verdict, that he be taken from here to a place of execution and hung by the neck until he is dead would have been far more appropriate.

Traditionally, those words were accompanied by ‘and may God have mercy on your soul.’ I do not believe in God, but if I did I would also say that this is a case where those words should not be spoken. Let the Devil have him, and be damned, without mercy or reprieve.

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8 thoughts on “The Death Penalty

  1. That’s one of the reasons I have always been opposed to the Death Penalty. Mair’s case is different in that it is so clear and obvious that it is he who is guilty, without doubt, reasonable or otherwise. I suppose you could say that hanging would make him a martyr for the new Nazis so that’s another reason for imprisonment.

      1. And history has proven how wrong that would have been. I suspect that will not be the same with this perpetrator, which is another reason why this case tests my principles.

  2. My first objection to the death penalty is that it makes the rest of us no better than the perpetrator. The second is, as you say, that it would risk making him a martyr to his cause. In that sense, we are fortunate that Hitler took the coward’s way out at the end of WWII and that the rest of them turned out to be pathetic specimens when faced with their crimes. I hope that he finds himself on a prison wing with a disproportionate number of black prisoners.

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