Friday, December 09, 2005

Why Fry?

News from Japan this week is that a group of 100 legislators are ready to give another try to banning murdering their citizens in the name of justice. They announced to the international conference on capital punishment that they would propose a new sentence there — life without parole.

So, you'd think that was non-news in low gun-owning, low crime-rate Nippon, eh?

Consider, if you will, that two First World countries alone continue to kill convicted criminals. The other is the dirty mirror image, high-crime, high-gun-owning USA.

We are in terrible company. Almost to a one, death-dealing countries are underdeveloped ones run by autocrats and which actively repress their citizens. Think Afghanistan, China, Congo, Malaysia, Nigeria, Iran, North Korea, Syria. You can see a list of who kills here.

We can't expect knowing that we are standing almost alone among industrialized nations to cut it. Americans in general and our top leaders in particular can take a peculiar pride in standing alone, allegedly for what's right. That's the American way, that's the pioneer spirit, and in this case, it's the dunce chair.

We do know that:
  • Capital punishment does not deter crime.
  • Many innocent people have died at the hands of government officials.
  • The religions whose fundamentalists drip the blood of retribution from their lips all forbid killing.
  • Murder by the state is still murder.
All of our peers, excepting Japan, have outlawed the death penalty, some over a century ago. They view it for what it is, illogical barbarism.

The head of the Japanese national lawmakers who will propose a ban there, Shizuka Kamei, notes, "If simply asked whether a person who commited an atrocious crime should be executed, it is natural to say yes. But there are cases in which criminals can be transformed into Buddha-like people who feel deep regret."

This is the stated intent of our criminal codes as well as our creeds.

So, a country that has hanged one criminal this year is ready to give into compassion and reason.

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