The United States remains in the minority of nations in the world that still uses death as penalty for certain crimes. Many see the penalty as barbaric and against American values. Others see it as a very important tool in fighting violent pre-meditated murder. From my point of view as a secular humanist, death penalty should be banned as a form of punishment. Secular humanism is a philosophical school of thought that advocates the use of reason, compassion, scientific inquiry, ethics, justice, and equality.It appeals to agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, and materialists.
Secular Humanism often finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism over the issue of separation of church and state. They believe that “moral values derive their source from human experience. ” Since most believe that an afterlife is nonexistent, they regard life here on earth to be particularly precious. They are highly motivated to alleviating pain and misery around the world. Many are active in refugee, human rights, anti-death penalty, environmental groups, etc.They believe not in God, but that people create their own meaning in life. They tend to have very liberal beliefs about controversial ethical topics, like abortion, corporal punishment of children, death penalty, prayer in schools, homosexuality, physician assisted suicide, etc.
Even if one supposes that capital punishment is morally justifiable, there are many good reasons to oppose it. 1. Sometimes, there are people wrongly found guilty and sentenced to death, and, in all likelihood, some of them have been, and will be, executed. In 1987, a study was published by the Stanford Law Review. They ound some evidence that suggested that at least 350 people between 1900 and 1985 in America might have been innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, and could have been sentenced to death.
139 actually “were sentenced to death and as many as 23 were executed. “ Death sentences have historically reflected racial bias, in that they are more likely to be imposed if a murderer’s victim is white as opposed to nonwhite. Being subject to capital punishment often hinges on the quality of one’s legal counsel, which itself depends on one’s economic status, so the poor are more likely to be executed than the rich.
. Value of human life: Human life has intrinsic value, even if a person has murdered another individual. The death penalty denies the sacredness of human life. Live is so precious that nobody should ever be killed, even by the state.
3. Deterrence: In my view deterrence plays no part whatsoever. Persons contemplating murder do not sit around the kitchen table and say I won’t commit this murder if I face the death penalty, but I will do it if the penalty is life without parole.I do not believe persons contemplating or committing murder plan to get caught or weigh the consequences. Fear of the death penalty may cause a few to hesitate, but certainly not enough to keep it in force, and the truth is that there is no way of ever knowing whether or not the death penalty deters. 4. Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment are several times that of keeping someone in prison for life. Most people don’t realize that carrying out one death sentence costs 2-5 times more than keeping that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life.
How can this be? It has to do with the endless appeals, additional required procedures, and legal wrangling that drag the process out. It’s not unusual for a prisoner to be on death row for 15-20 years. Judges, attorneys, court reporters, clerks, and court facilities all require a substantial investment by the taxpayers. Do we really have the resources to waste? 5. LIBERALS – believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights.
Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems such as the abolish of death penalty. The death penalty should be banned. It is inhumane and is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. Imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for murder.
Every execution risks killing an innocent person. Whether it’s a firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, or hanging, it’s barbaric to allow state-sanctioned murder before a crowd of people.We condemn people like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il when they murder their own people while we continue to do the same (although our procedures for allowing it are obviously more thorough). The 8th Amendment of the U.
S. Constitution prevents the use of “cruel and unusual punishment”. Many would interpret the death penalty as violating this restriction. 6.
Evolution – We as a society have to move away from the “eye for an eye” revenge mentality if civilization is to advance. The “eye for an eye” mentality will never solve anything.A revenge philosophy inevitably leads to an endless cycle of violence; take for example the Israeli-Palestine conflict that has been going on for 50+ years. I think it is important to send a message to society that striking back at your enemy purely for revenge will always make matters worse. Despite the prior arguments, the death penalty is so popular that abolition will be impossible without a significant shift in public opinion. Such shifts have occurred several times in the past 250 years, however, and may occur again.In the past they have been caused by changing attitudes about the extent to which crime is a consequence of the criminal’s free will, changes that seemed to flow from better understanding of human behavior and we can expect similar developments in the future.
Word count: 983 wordsReferences: 1. www. secularhumanism. org 2.
Thomas W. Clark, Crime and Causality: Do Killers Deserve to Die? – article from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 25, Number 2; 4.
org/executb.htm”>http://www. religioustolerance. org/executb. htm