Why I cannot support the death penalty

Posted on August 22, 2010

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My ‘Petition to grant clemency for Yong Vui Kong’ elicited 43 comments.

I have to confess that many of those comments left me numbed.

Many took the position that Yong ought to have known the consequences of his actions.

Others felt that the drug scourge is such that we need the death penalty to deal with this menace.

I understand that Yong is due to be executed this coming 26th August.

The prison authorities will hang him from his neck until life is drained from his body.

I want to share my thoughts on why I think this is wrong.

Allow me to digress for a moment.

Irene is in her 70’s.

One night, as we talked, the subject moved to illness, suffering and death.

We both agreed that we were ready for death, but we did not want to suffer.

Irene then popped this question : if she was terminally ill and in great pain, would I, at her request, end it for her?

I said I would. I then asked if she would do the same for me.

She said she would.

We promised each other that night that if either was in a situation where death was imminent and was suffering great pain and requested to end it all, the other would do the necessary.

The truth, though, is, if confronted with this situation, I do not really know if I’d be able to go through with my promise to Irene.

Taking another’s life in these circumstances is called euthanasia.

Wikipedia explains euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.

Most jurisdictions treat euthanasia as a criminal offence.

A culpable homicide.

Even if carried out to relieve intractable suffering.

Why?

Because life is precious, and no-one, absolutely no-one has the right to take life?

Really?

What of the death penalty then?

The death penalty is the deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to …..

To what?

To give expression to our wrath?

To give expression to our sense of horror?

An eye for an eye?

One life for the many lost to drugs?

To remove a menace from the midst of our loving society?

This loving society will not condone mercy killing because no-one has the right to take life, yet we sanction the deliberate intervention by the hangman undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to give expression to our wrath, our sense of horror? To exact society’s pound of flesh? To keep the rest of us safe?

We condemn the violent deaths inflicted by wars, yet we collectively sanction the violence inflicted on this young life by placing the noose round his neck and dropping the trapdoor below his feet, so that the force of the drop will severe the lifeline of his spinal cord?

Is this the society that we are?

I do not support the death penalty because I do not believe we have the right, individually or collectively to end another’s life.

The death penalty, for me, is state-sanctioned violence.

Some proponents of the death penalty, without addressing the prior question whether we have the right to take life, advocate that a more humane intervention, rather than by hanging, be undertaken with the express intention of ending a life.

They advocate death by lethal injection.

Watch the videos below and decide for yourselves.

Posted in: Right to know