Thursday, October 11, 2007

Death Vs. More Deaths

Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. and surprise! all talks on China again~ By the way, China has just ruled out taking organs from dead prisoners.

According to Amnesty International, only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006, 91percent of them in just six countries: China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA (or rather 38 states of USA). The argument against the death penalty couldn't be stronger: The Universal Human Right-

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. - Article 3
It is questioned whether anyone, or so-called system, has the right to take another person's life. And another question is whether it is really necessary to execute someone to achieve the deterrence needed for similar crimes, and whether it is too much of a retribution. Because that's what any penalty is all about: deterrence and retribution.

Nearly 250 years ago, Marquis Beccaria in his Of Crimes and Punishments wrote:
The death of a citizen cannot be necessary but in one case: when, though deprived of his liberty, he has such power and connections as may endanger the security of the nation; when his existence may produce a dangerous revolution in the established form of government. But, even in this case, it can only be necessary when a nation is on the verge of recovering or losing its liberty, or in times of absolute anarchy, when the disorders themselves hold the place of laws: but in a reign of tranquillity, in a form of government approved by the united wishes of the nation, in a state well fortified from enemies without and supported by strength within, and opinion, perhaps more efficacious, where all power is lodged in the hands of a true sovereign, where riches can purchase pleasures and not authority,
there can be no necessity for taking away the life of a subject.

An additional argument against death penalty would be: the current judicial system is capable of making mistakes, and in the case of death penalty, such mistakes are indeed deadly.

Being a debater, I've seen motions on death penalty countless times, and I've argued for and against death penalty in a number occasions. But there really isn't a best way out. Does death penalty 100% effective from preventing the inmate committing crimes? You bet it does, they are dead. Does death penalty enough a deterrence? Honestly I don't know; China has death penalty, yet murder still happens, but I don't know what else we can do to deter if death penalty couldn't do the trick. (I'm not naive enough to say showing leniency or mercy could somehow miraculously transform these people.)

So the trade-off is, are you willing to take the risk of having criminals that have committed, say, murder alive to trade with, umm, the ideal of human right? And there is also the practice debate. The situation in China is that they simply don't have enough prisons and personnels to keep all these criminals in. What shall we do then, reduce all the punishment to make room in prisons for those committed serious felonies? Well maybe we should. I just can't see how this could be possible in our generation.

Get more information about death penalty in USA
Sign the petition here

PS: Of course, it's also the day Taiwan celebrates its "national" day, on which date in 1911 the revolutionists overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty. Taiwan celebrates it with a huge military parade, China responses with a state-of-the-art Art Defense. On this China-Taiwan issue, there's little I could say except I like the status quo, but I have no doubt whatsoever that if Taiwan makes an aggressive move, China would launch a war.

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