Capital Punishment is one of those practices which tend to leave me uncomfortable and my insides topsy-turvy. How can the whole human race believe so firmly in a practice which is nothing short of mass murder? Of course one is directly faced with the question of the morality of the human race. To me ethics are just a consequence of morality. For a person without morality there can be no grounds for ethics. But I must shine light on why we should despise practices such as Capital Punishment.
Killing of an innocent man by a criminal is different than the execution of a convict. When a murderer kills an innocent there is a chance albeit small that the innocent man may escape his fate. To the man’s mind there must be a faint glimour of hope that he can outrun the murderer. That is what drives him to flee and to try and escape. That hope that chance that feeling of life itself is the distinguisher in this debate. When you lead a convicted man to his execution there is a certainty of his death. There is no escape for him. His mind his body his spirit itself must be fallen. Imagine what must be going through his mind when he is led to the noose. There will be infinite darkness infinite certainty of death. He knows that in 5 more minutes this life itself won’t be there. The criminal doesn’t die when he is hanged. Of course not. He is dead when he is condemned to the death sentence. What goes on in the mind of the criminal when he is walking towards his death is something I don’t know. But to my thinking it should be infinite peace and anguish at the same time. It is this certainty, this fastidiousness of his approaching fate that makes capital punishment a thousand times worse than murder. In a sense capital punishment is the real ‘cold blooded murder’.
There is another way in which this practice is despicable. The most hardened criminal, the foulest man would agree to the fact that they have a done a bad thing – a crime. But the executioners – not just the final administrator, but also the judges, the lawyer etc. all go home feeling happy. They feel emancipated, lifted and indeed feel as they have done a great and noble act. Indeed this is a bad thing. To participate in cold blooded murder is bad but to justify it is much worse. The morals of the Humanity are called into question.
Medieval Europe especially France when faced with the revolutions, held trials of imperialists and revolutionaries in public. They were slaughtered in front of the public. The ladies used to dress up specially for the occasion and it was considered lucky if the blood of the convict fell on their dresses. Children used to play around while people were being slaughtered. Indeed, to me humanity hasn’t seen such a depreciation and degradation of its moral values. Just to be clear I don’t think Kasab should go scot free. But killing him will make us just like him, if not worse. He should be sentenced to life imprisonment for his crimes.
PS: The motivation to write this post comes from Foyodor Dostoevsky’s Idiot.