It is hard to think about a more controversial issue of modern society than the question of acceptability of the death penalty. While the majority of civilized countries no longer use it and the tendency is that the number of those who still does gradually dwindles, in every society there is an active minority – and sometimes it seems that even a majority – that demands for it to be either continued to be used or restored. These demands tend to grow more numerous after some especially gruesome crime is committed and becomes known to the public.
And yes, I don’t deny that the actions of some people leave no doubt about their personalities and make us want them dead – if not out of justice, then out of revenge, disgust or just in order to make sure they won’t harm anybody else in future.
But when we speak about capital punishment, we don’t speak about these people. We speak about overall acceptability of the situation in which one man or a group of people decide whether another one has to die, and do it while covering themselves with the authority of the State, as if they were not killing anybody. We speak about a lot more cases than just these several especially disgusting crimes, and in many of these cases there is far less evidence of the convicted person to be guilty. It is bad enough if an innocent person is sent to prison; but this decision can at least be reversed. But if the person is executed, it cannot be undone – so, how can anybody take such a responsibility upon himself?