Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hang 'em High


Investec did a recruitment drive once and we were a group of graduates asked to debate whether capital punishment was justifiable. My argument was 'almost never'.

Here is an example of what may be an exeption to the rule: (click on the above title to link to Afrikaans story)
Ziqhu is a dude that worked as a storeman at a local air force base. He raped 12 girls (all under the age of 15 years old, the youngest was 10) despite knowing he had HIV. 2 of his victims now have the HIV virus.

Now one could posit a few mitigating arguments, but the bottom line is:
- he raped all 12
- he knew he had AIDS


It makes me uncomfortable to hear that he listened to his sentence being passed 'showing no emotion'. Perhaps if he was given the death penalty he might have registered some sort of human response, like, "Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe, you know, I hurt someone."

The value of the death penalty in his case will also be to warn similar monsters from committing the same dastardly deeds, and if you think it is not necessary, have a look at South Africa's holocaust like rape and AIDS statistics. So what if he was given 12 life sentences, he will only serve one. He could be given 1000 life sentences, but effectively it is a meaningless punishment. The death penalty is a barbaric way to control elements of barbarism in society. It is not an ideal measure, of course it isn't, but then our society is far from ideal. And of course, in a more ideal (law abiding) society, even with the death penalty in place, it would never be used.

Human beings though, seem to me, to thrive on incentive. In schools it is so obvious: where corporal punishment does not exist, students simply don't have the capacity to know how to behave themselves.

In muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Malaysia, limbs can be cut off for anything from drug smuggling to adultery, (something I consider extreme) yet we also see a very high degree of morality. My point is that to rapidly inculcate a sense of honesty and honor in a lawless society, you have to fight fire to some degree, with fire. Those who accept 12 life sentences as a 'just' punishment are really just fooling themselves. Two of those girls will now slowly be consumed with a deadly disease forced into them. This tragedy happens because human rights and value for the human being are wrongly attributed to all, and thus in this case also specifically to the perpetrator, rather than with due diligence and circumspection to those in society who earn and deserve them (the innocent majority of civilians).

On the issue of abortion we also like to make sweeping moral codes for ourselves. Naturally abortion depends on context. Maybe most of us are just too tired to think, so we give ourselves generalised laws to paint giant brush strokes over the details, and feel better about ourselves, thinking the world is safer. It's not. No, the details of human beings and how differently they live their lives are important, and each case needs to be considered on its own merits.

1 comment:

Karen Walker said...

An interesting article in the Guardina here today that I thought I would share with you.

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2210662,00.html