The death penalty is a morbid exercise in political power which has outlived any useful purpose in terms of deterrence. Like the Wizard of Oz, it is masked behind the curtains of justice, subject to the whims of the loudest voices demanding action. Yet we as a nation seek to encourage our global neighbors to adopt productive and peaceful means of solving their national problems. We hold ourselves out as a light shining on the subject of basic human rights, but seem to be completely unaware that the world views our behaviors as the best indicator of what we truly believe in.
If we continue to wield the stick of capital punishment arbitrarily or utilize an oppressive response to underscore the goals of security and control, then in fact we have ceased to be a shining light and are only contributing to the shadows of life where the commerce of life is negotiated and bartered away in the course of doing business. Justice has become a growth industry in the United States. It has produced a culture of despair and a tradition of broken homes. There are millions of American families struggling under the weight of criminal justice encounters. The choice they are given is to abandon their loved ones, or live under the rule of suspicion, prejudice and oppression.
How do you go about making the decision to abandon your child in favor of securing an opportunity to live out your life in some sort of anonymity? In forcing families to make these choices, the government has taken an active role in fostering the destruction of family life in America. Where will those members of society go after their prison sentences have been served? Who will house them, feed them or employ them? How will the elderly former prisoners live out their last years in society without any financial support or access to healthcare? The very notion that there has been no forethought to these serious considerations should be an indication of the lack of leadership at the helm of government.
This is not a plea to be soft on crime or criminals. It is a pointed fact of life that when we disembowel elements of our society we will suffer unseen consequences impacting community life across the nation. We did likewise for the AIDS problem under the Reagan administration, and watched the course of the disease process balloon to international proportions. Do we expect those living on the streets and eating out of dumpsters to quietly fade away? Part of the former greatness of this nation was the opportunity it afforded its citizens. Have we become a nation that has lost its moorings to equality, fairness and justice for all? If I can exclude one segment of the populace under the guise of the administration of justice, then it becomes easier to move onto the next targeted group of individuals.
Societal elimination by indifference is driven by a spirit of fear and self-interest. That spirit is infectious and will ultimately secure a ruling class that lives by the principle of government for me, by me and of me. Are you prepared to live out your future lives in the dark recesses of isolation and exclusion? If it can be perpetrated upon one group, it can easily be applied to others who fall into disfavor. Will your group be targeted next?