Is capital punishment unjustifiable?
Lantouri, an Iranian film
I’m writing this after watching Lantouri, an Iranian film by Reza Dormishian. It is a film about a female social activist who fights against capital punishment (mind you capital punishment is still in use in Iran). She goes around talking with the victims’ families, asking for their forgiveness (the decision to execute or forgive a death row convict is up to the victims’ families in Iran). There is a big twist in the film when she is attacked with acid by a revengeful man who claimed to love her. As a result of the acid attack, she loses her facial beauty and most of her eyesight. Now she is faced with the decision to choose revenge or forgiveness. She finally forgives the attacker.
Arguments against the capital punishment
Today I’m not going to talk about the film itself, but I wish to talk about what it directly or indirectly proposes about capital punishment; that it is useless and harmful. I am well aware that in most European countries as well as many US states, capital punishment is obsolete. I am aware that some may already label me as biased or conservative or close-minded or whatever, but am not. This is my belief that what’s right should be supported, and what’s wrong should be frowned upon even if many advanced western countries support it. Please read my argument and then decide to label me.
One of the arguments proposed in Lantouri is that the government should not leave the judgment to the family of the victims _who are under emotional pressure, and supposedly cannot make a fair and logical judgment. Another argument is that revenge has not helped the families feel any better. Also, it claims that according to statistics the capital punishment has not helped reducing homicide. But how accurate are these claims?
Arguments for the capital punishment
1- Abolishing death penalty does not reduce crimes
Execution may not have helped reduce homicide, but what about not punishing the criminals? Does that help reduce the crime? Now let’s replace capital punishment with say 15 years in prison. This alternative is what some “politically correct” people try to propose as a replacement for the capital punishment, but who is going to pay for keeping these people alive? The answer is people like the very family of the victim. Is it not a punishment for the family of the victim _making them pay to keep alive a person who has killed their loved ones! I know that 15 years in prison is not a picnic, but, anyway, 15 years later the killer can walk out of jail with a smile on his face. I think that correcting the society, and forgiving or not forgiving the criminals are two separate issues. It is evident that capital punishment cannot reduce the rate of crime _people do not merely put off committing a particular crime because they are scared of losing their heads. People put their lives in danger even for trivial issues. But I am repeating, rewarding criminals by forgiving them won’t do any good either. Imagine this: You kill my brother, the law absolves you, then I kill you, and then the law forgives me again! That’s great, isn’t it?!
2- Death penalty should be decided by the bereaved families
Although forgiveness might be fundamentally high-minded and humane (or maybe not _but I won’t discuss this either) and films such as Lantouri, which try to teach people to forgive may be high-minded too, but I firmly believe that it is very unfair to take the option away from the family of the victim. Forgiveness and punishment should be offered as options. People should not be forced to forgive. Capital punishment may not bring people’s loved ones back to life, but it can at least relieve their pain. Maybe you can forgive _good for you_ but perhaps others only feel that the crime is compensated only through punishment. I think this decision should be in the hands of those very people who are under emotional strain and not the government. If emotionally strained people fail to make a fair judgment, then letting a machine (the law) decide for them is equally senseless. I think what these anti-capital punishment activists fail to understand is that the capital punishment is precisely there to relieve those who are strained. That criminal had his fair logical judgment before the commitment of murder. If you don’t make the family of the victim satisfied, they will try to take the law into their own hands (can’t this make the crime rate rise _if you do care about the crime rate and statistics?)
3- Death penalty helps the bereaved families
People never feel like before, even if they execute the murderer. That’s true; the harm is done. But how would they feel if they see the murderer walk out in the street and grin at them? Put yourself in their shoes? As a matter of fact, I have heard a relevant story. A guy had raped and killed a girl. They put the guy in prison. He was waiting for the date to be executed, but while he had the time he memorized Quran. Now, you wonder why he did that. He did that because there is such a law in Iran which no matter what you have done, if you memorize Quran cover to cover so that you can recite it by heart, then this is a sign you are lamenting your past deeds, and God has forgiven you. According to this stupid justification they claim your crimes are wiped out, and you can walk out of prison free. I am not going to discuss how dumb and moronic this law is, but that rapist did this, and he walked out of jail free. They say he grins every time he passes in front of the parents of the girl whom he had raped and killed. If you are satisfied your forgiveness cult result in such a thing, go on and do it, but keep it away from me because I prefer to wipe that grin off that asshole’s face at least. This is the least that capital punishment can do.
The Case of Bijeh
Let me give another example. There was an Iranian guy nicknamed as Bijeh who raped and killed as many as 17 children and 3 adults. He was finally executed, but before they tie the rope around his neck, the brother of one of the victims found the moment to push close enough to him to stab him with a knife. Do you understand what this means? This means the family of those victims were not satisfied even with the execution of Bijeh, for people like Bijeh even the capital punishment is a kind of favor. It can also tell us what could have happened if they didn’t execute him: The families would have torn him into pieces.
So, should capital punishment be abolished? So far, I think not.
Let’s hope for a future without execution
I also hope that one day people won’t kill each other, and we close down all the prisons and burn the gallows, but we are far away from that. Meanwhile, we should continue giving the families of the victims the option to forgive or to punish the killers of their loved ones. But of course meantime, we should try and solve the causes and reasons for committing serious crimes like homicide. As I mentioned earlier, it has nothing to do with taking the options of the capital punishment away from those innocent people who have lost their loved ones.
This is to anti-execution activist: Guys, I’m not a boar! I’m an educated person, and I can say I’m more logical than emotional, you can talk to me through words _but valid words. If you can prove to me how on earth taking away the choice of the capital punishment from the victim’s families AND not executing the criminals who have done grave crimes such as homicide, rape, or acid attack help reduce the commitment of future crimes, I will delete this post and write another one supporting you. But please don’t preach me with “forgiveness is good for your soul” kind of crap!