By Chris Barts
Albert DeSalvo (AKA The Boston Strangler). David Berkowitz (AKA Son of Sam). Charles Manson. Richard Ramirez. What do all of those names have in common? They're all famous serial killers who've yet to be executed. Among them, they've killed almost 40 innocent people. They killed people because they delight in killing. They serve no purpose to society except to study pathological cases, and there are more than enough of them to study. Society must protect itself. Those who commit murder must die.
Yet there are people who do not want executions to take place. They think that execution is inhumane. They think that society has failed with these cases. They don't think that any killing is justified. In this article, I'll respond to all of these concepts one at a time, bearing in mind that there are others, but the same reasoning can be applied against those.
First, there are people who think that capital punishment, in its modern form, is inhumane. Few things could be further from the truth. The most common method used in the United States is lethal injection. This does not involve one injection of cyanide delivered to a squirming and struggling inmate. The process begins by slowly putting the condemned to sleep, then paralyzing the diaphragm, ending breathing, and, finally, an injection to stop the heart. This is a very humane, regulated, known process. The last thing the condemned feels is the quickly fading bee sting of the injection needle. Another method used is the gas chamber. The gas used is one that destroys the ability of the blood to carry oxygen, putting the inmate to sleep seconds after the first breath. Both methods are infinitely more humane than the methods the killers used.
Next, there are the groups that think society has failed. It's true that most pathological killers (killers who kill for the love of killing, as opposed to those who kill because of rage-management problems) come from very bad homes. Most have also been through the legal justice system, sometimes repeatedly, before their homicide convictions. But there are people who've come from worse homes and have made something of themselves, even if all they do is work a job and obey the law most of the time. The basic tenet of opportunity is this: It makes no difference where you come from or who you are, everyone has the same opportunities and responsibilities as everyone else.
Nietzsche said that it makes no difference what happened to you to make you how you are. All that matters is how you function in society. And it is society that demands the executions, as my next paragraph will show.
We as a society must defend ourselves from those who are damaged enough to view murder as acceptable. The only sure way to prevent those people from murdering again is by killing them. Jails can be broken out of, pardons and paroles granted. Death allows for neither. We can save the lives of the killers, or we can save ourselves.