A Crime Exploited, A Tragedy Doubled.
The US Supreme Court has declared that states have the right to utilize capital punishment only in cases in which a life is taken. An eye for an eye, as it were. The hue and cry this decision has caused is very telling on not only the American psyche, but the American political system as well.
No one would argue that someone who rapes a child is a monster and needs to be removed from sicuety permanently. But let's just takev the emotion out of the equation for a moment, and consider: what, really, is the difference between the death sentence, and life imprisonment without parole? As far as society is concerned, they are functionally equivalent. There are only a few reasons one would want to put a rapist to death, instead of lock him up forever:
- To exact vengeance
- To set an example
- To appear strong
It is interesting that the ones calling out the loudest for the death penalty are the same ones hiding behind the Bible for their support. They see a sacred imperative to punish the wrongdoers. They say it is the righteous thing to do, but they ignore God's own counsel: "Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written, 'Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19)
It is difficult to imagine that someone who is so amoral and disordered that they would even consider raping a child, would stop to consider all the punishments that may be meted out on them. The fact of the matter is that, when one is in the state to commit a henious crime, logical arguments are ignored, whether due to rationalization or passion. So constructing logical methods of dissuading would-be criminals by showing them what will happen to them is bound to failure.
That leaves the last possibility. There is plenty of political mileage to be obtained easily by working this issue. A politician can come on as strong as he may from the bully pulpit, for who is to come to the defense of a rapist? And the Superme Court judges, with their lifetime appointments, make the perfect punching bags for any demagogue wishing to appeal to his constituents' baser motives. But what is at stake here is not the fate of rapists, but rather the fate of due process. Legislators complain about activist judges but turn around and use their legislative power to further their own narrow interests. Such is not the way to achieve justice. How dare they exploit the plight of a rape victim to garner votes?