Friday, December 02, 2005

The person who executed U.S.A's 1000'th capital punishment victim

The U.S just executed their 1000'th death-row victim after capital punishment was resumed in that country from 1977. Kenneth Lee Boyd was put to death after a lethal dose of drugs was injected into his body.

My question on this event is this. How is the person who injected the lethal drug into Boyd's body any different from any other homicidal killer? Boyd is being put to death for two people he had murdered. By injecting the lethal drug into Boyd's body isn't Boyd's executioner also doing the same, i.e murdering someone. Just because the law permits the execution how can the executioner's act of taking Boyd's life (or killing Boyd) not be a crime? Is there no sin in the act of putting Boyd to death? How does the executioner feel when he/she goes to bed that night? Elated at having done a job (killing someone) so well?

Boyd's last words were "God bless everybody in here", probably refering to the executioner and the others who were overseeing his execution. Reminded me of what Jesus said of his executioner's as they nailed him on the cross, "Oh God forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."


Preethi Ramanan said...

hey subash

Long time no comments:) I actually did want to post some comments on your blog about Bruce/Brenda and the Iraq one. I just never got around commenting on it :). Very interesting read especially the former. I didn't realise things like this also happened in the world. I have heard only about the Michael Jackson case.

After having read this article though, i cant seem to be able to stop myself from commenting. I am slightly shocked at your reaction on capital punishment. Infact in the your previous blogs i am in total agreement with your views on "ghajni" (horrible movie), "the bruce/brenda" and the "iraq" ones.

Subash how can you even begin to strike an analogy between Jesus Christ and Boyd. Boyd was a murderer who had probably murdered two innocent victims. He was mentally sick. So what if he says "God forgive them for what they have done".. Who the hell is he to forgive or forget people.. And i feel your question about how the executioner would feel is quite mean...

I dont think you, me or anybody for that matter can imagine the mental turmoil that he must be undergoing after executing somebody. If he is an old timer he might have become immune to it. But subash who is to be blamed in this entire game of capital punishment. The executioner is just doing his job (for whatever reason.. i dont think anybody would take up such a job just because he fancies it).

I agree that capital punishment is not right. Not because it is ethically wrong (it might be.. i am no one to judge that). Only because it is a quick death and i think murderers, rapists etc like Boyd should not have such an easy death. They should be given life imprisonment and made to suffer every single day of the rest of their lives. They should be made to realise what they have done is simply unpardonable. It might sound like "an eye for an eye" kind of thing but when i put myself in the shoes of all those people whose near and dear ones have been killed,raped,mutilated,burnt,etc i feel only such a punishment would be just.

What about all those people who are involved in the Iraqi food for oil programme? Are they not responsbile for the deaths of millions of innocent children and women? Do Bush/Blair/Saddam not have blood on their hands? How can we blame the soldiers who do the actual killing or the executioner in this case?

Your comments!!

Subash S L said...

Hi Preethi,

Nice to read your comment and that too after a long time. This was another sensitive topic too. My writing might have misled you into thinking that I am an anti-capital punishment activist but I take neither a pro nor an anti stand when it comes to capital punishment. When I consider how governments spend billions of taxpayers money on housing and looking after criminals I sometimes think capital punishment is the way to go. But then has capital punishment helped improve the situation in our societies? All kinds of crimes prevail unabated. The other question of course is this. Who gives us the inalienable right to take a life even if it is for punishing someone? Well, you could ask
the same of Boyd too. Who is he to take someone's life? But then are we of Boyd's disposition. What made Boyd do a crime that you and I didn't? I feel these are the issues we need to give more importance than putting away someone for his/her crime. I know this is a tough and tricky discussion but I just gave in to the humanatarian part of it.

And about the executioner. I agree with you about the feelings of the executioner but that's not the case with EVERY executioner. I would like to inform that in Saudi Arabia (marked the No.1 country
by Amnesty International for human rights violations) executioners are held in high esteem and these guys take pride in their jobs. One guy even inherited it as a family tradition and claims to have decapitated over a 100 victims with his sword/axe. "The Hindu", many years ago carried an article on him. I guess he will even pass it on to his offspring. They say in that country crime is at an all time low. It is fear that supresses crime there and living in fear is no freedom and no life. The point I'am trying to make is to teach people to abstain from crimes the right way and not out of fear. We need to educate (as I mentioned earlier) and find the root causes and then take appropriate action. Again this is a very big issue. But it needs to be addressed nevertheless and with full dedication. No one single reason exists for crime.

Boyd's condition may have needed further study. Maybe we could have solved his problem without him murdering his victims. Maybe he needed phsyciatric treatment or counselling. Maybe he already had those treatmenst but then we need to probe further for soluions without giving hope if there were any scope of saving him from comitting his crime.

Don't you sometimes feel that the devil resides in us too? Then why is that we don't do crime? Is it becuase of fear of being decapitated. No. Instead it is because of the knowledge of the right and the wrong that we have evolved to understand. Inspite of this we sometimes falter. I strongly believe that only very few of the criminals who are on death-row actually possess a deranged frame of mind to commit crime. The rest could have been saved.

Finally about the comparision to what Jesus said. The analogy was only in the statements. I thought I saw a connection in the last words spoken and certainly not in the personalities of Jesus and Boyd.


Murali Rajendran said...

Hi Subash

Here’s the one that I promised a long time back, and never quite made it - my first comment on your blog!

Your post gives an interesting perspective to capital punishments. There are two things I’d like to highlight on this, and as always I’ll talk about both sides of the coin and eventually tell which way the coin should flip.

Firstly taking sides in favour of capital punishment let me touch upon some thing I have experienced all through my life till this minute. I’ve always believed in the saying –

Mur pagal seyin pir pagal vilayum (Hope I got it right)

Which means the result of what you do in the day shall be experienced on that very afternoon. While it takes so little time to destroy life, it takes a divine power to create one.
These days violence in the name of religion and patriotism have become commonplace. The footage of maniacal terrorists slitting throats and the many long wars fought by Uncle Sam stand as a testimony. So in all fairness it only seems justified that some body that kills life, would meet the same eventuality as well.

Now swivelling to the other perspective, what if instead of capital punishment you give the person a second lifeline. This is the view I’ll endorse as well. Now let me get into the bottom of this..
Anything and everything has a cure, and even the hardest of criminals can be turned around with a lot of effort and time. You can call them by any number of names, but they are still human at the end of the day, and do deserve a redemption in the rightful way. The panacea for a lot of ills faced by the world today is – LOVE.
Well how many of us can say we love our neighbouring state that has been harbouring terrorism for so long. But by propagating hatred and animosity with that country or among ourselves we’ll get nowhere. The way to a harmonious and peaceful world is by forgiving people and not by capital punishment or destroying life.
It might seem foolhardy to many, but I would say the right thing to do in the future is to do away with prisons or the legal system of punishment as we’ve known it. While it’s so easy to say the rotten apples might spoil the whole lot, what are we doing to stem the rot at the first place?
Let the prisons be transformed into centers where people turn a new leaf, by washing away their tarnished past. There are ways and means to achieve this, which is beyond the purview of this blog!
(A handy phrase I found in many of the books I read in engineering)
The way forward is to embrace forgiveness and cleanse the society of its evils and not by killing life again.

It might sound like a fantasy to many, but I’d rather stay and believe that the realm of fantasy might eventually merge with the fringes of reality some day.

Till such day there’s always hope!

Subash S L said...

Good one Murali. Considerate, positive and full of hope.

Sri said...

Let me get to the point straight away, I agree with Preethi when she says the executioner was just a tool and whose conscience should be left alone. I also agree that the Boyd-Jesus comparison was not a good one. But, feel strongly about the issue of capital punishment.

It sure is a quick way of ridding the world of a criminal whose psyche has been proven to be leaning to toward taking lives. But, it must be based on the merits of the case. For example, when a habitual criminal is found guilty of taking somebody's life - the govt. cannot afford to waste the tax-payer's money in keeping him alive and should put him to sleep right away. Whereas, in the case of a first time offender - based on his psychological history and family background and upbringing it is possible to draw a clear picture whether he/she will turn into a habitual criminal and if possible efforts can be taken to reform that person.

In the case of human rights violators - a different approach must be taken - an extreme one - its called 'Hammurabi's code of law' or rather " eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..'. Like in the case of a rapist (if and only if) undeniable evidence has been presented in the court of law, he should be castrated ( I mean really cut it all off) and publicly announced as a violator. This is what i feel will instill the fear among any other prospective offenders.

Regarding the issue of the collective conscience which Subash raised, when it comes to awarding capital punishment, after all when we have accepted democratic governance, why should the judiciary be any different. If we feel no single human being has the right to decide whether another human being is to live or die for the crime he/she has committed/not committed then we might as well return to the law of the wild because, then the next question would be who is the traffic-constable to challan me for jumping the signal ?

Coming back to the point of case against capital punishment raised by Murali, I would like to take another example, when we feel that a hardened criminal must be give a chance to reform and that we must pay our hard earned money for that, what about, say, that deserving youth who did not land a job because the interviewer found it better to recruit his wife's sister-in-law's second cousin ? Doesnt that youth deserve a second chance better than that hardened criminal ? In that case should we all be held responsible (as compared to paying taxes to reform that criminal) to ensure that the youth gets a job ?
My point is - nobody has the time nor money to care and reverse the injustices perpetrated in this world, then what makes the hardened criminal special enough to be given chance to reform, its the survival of the fittest, every man for himself, a cold-blooded murderer does not fit into our society so, get rid of the unfit and instead spend that time and money on more fruitful investments like education and population control.

Points that I raised above may be found to be bizzare, unconnected and un-conventional but these are the thoughts that jumped to my mind as soon as I read this blog, and since this topic is so close to my heart, I am straight away logging them as they came. So, if anything was offending my heart-felt apologies.

Subash S L said...

Hi Sri,

Habitual criminals are like the mad stray dogs. You can only do one thing to them. Put them away.
In fact it would be dangerous to let them back into the society.
But then not every criminal is a hardcore mentally deranged criminal. These are the guys that need to be saved. What if the victim was one who deserved to be dispatched off? In a documentary in the USA I watched the tragic story of a man-next-door type of a person who had to take out a psycho who was terrorizing him and his neighbourhood. After years of putting up with this guy's torture with the total callousness from the local police, our man had to take the extreme step. Now he rots in prison without parole. His wife visits him regularly. Though he has the relief that the psycho no longer torments him and his neighbourhood he languishes in jail as a criminal. And let me tell you American Prisons is not the place you wan't to be. Sometimes you are better off dead than being imprisoned. I've watched yet another disturbing documentary of some young helpless guy who was writing to his mother about how he was being raped by the homosexuals there. Do these guys deserve to go to the executioner?