The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Life and Death

Those of you who have read the original Soapbox Papers, the 1996 collection of poems I refer to from time to time, and the title of which I swiped for this blogspot, may remember the poem below -

May 12, 1996: Ask Me Today
for TR, 1986-1996

Ask me today
what I think about capital punishment,
what I think about deliberate murder, what I think
about the thousands of chances to be and become
from one or more beings
becoming the 'second chance' for the thief.

We come into this world with one life,
our entitlement, our own, and if we
take another - or another and another -
in our greed to have our way, in our
hatreds, in our angers, in our passions -
we forfeit our own.

Ask me today if I believe in rehabilitation
that cannot include restitution,
and what about an eye for an eye, and why
should judgement of his intent
be left to a God he did not believe in?

No -- let him submit to his proven beliefs
without a whimper, his god of cold steel --
or failing that, a final cigarette
before a firing squad, a gasp of air
before the gas comes, the final thoughts
before a far too benevolent
lethal injection.

from The Soapbox Papers
copyright(c) 1996 Smokey Combs

I mention this today because, in my wandering around the Net I find myself hearing about and from those who would totally abolish the death penalty, even for those like the man who confessed to murdering my grandson (and another soul) with no remorse, about whom that poem was written. I have had to examine my own beliefs, because what I hear and read that is going on in the world regarding the misuse of death as a punishment is wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong - yet I cannot be for a policy that makes no exceptions for those whose confessed crimes indicate they must - MUST - forfeit their lives.

That death as a penalty exists in nearly all cultures indicates to me that perhaps the Jewish laws in The Old Testament, referring to an eye for an eye, was common in its day. But the Jewish law also made room for accidental deaths, for circumstances that would make the one who caused a death not necessarily a capital offense. There were, in those days, Cities of Refuge, places set aside as "safe places" for those who took the lives of another unintentionally. Fleeing to one of these cities was not necessarily a certain fate for those who had taken a life. There were guidelines carefully lain down to allow one to stay there.

What this means to me is that there were exceptions made, that a judgement had to be met, before one was allowed safety. Conversely, I feel it also indicates that there should be exceptions made in the disallowing of the death sentence.

Do I believe political executions are wrong? Yep. Do I believe war and its killing is wrong? Yep. Do I believe there is a chance a person on trial for a capital puishment crime who has not confessed, or who has not been proven absolutely positively guilty and claims innocence should serve a life imprisonment term instead of death? Yep. Do I believe the 'honor killings' practice of some religious sects is wrong, that one person should arbitrarily end the life of another according to some tenet? Yep.

It is possible the Iraqi constitution, being argued over and written as I write this, may include capital punishment. The UN has requested it not, but as I have said before, the Iraqi constitution belongs to the Iraqi, and other nations, regardless how right each feels its own way is, are best staying out of it. Let Amnesty International sanction them. They are non-political and speak for a far larger group than even the UN -- they speak for people world wide who find such punishments abhorrent.

But when it comes right down to it, I want the deliberate murderer with no remorse put to death. It is his forfeit. It means the life (lives) he took had value.


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