An argument for capital punishment

Updated 27 July, 2015 – I have changed my views about the capital punishment. I feel the death penalty has to go.

I am in favour of capital punishment in rarest of the rare cases. Like the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the four Delhi rapists. They don’t deserve to live.

It is true capital punishment does not act as a deterrence. For the matter of fact no punishment does. Does that mean we stop punishing criminals altogether? No we still punish people. Criminals have to be locked up or made to pay fine so as to realise the harm they have done, to protect society from their repeated offences or to reform them. But none of this acts as a deterrent and nor does capital punishment. Capital punishment is retributive justice. You committed a very heinous crime, you gotta pay for it! If you are in need of a lawyer and are trying to fight a criminal case visit Matthew Gould, to find the best lawyer.

Right to life is a fundamental human right

Right to life? Opponents of death penalty say everyone has right to life even the most ruthless murderers and criminals. True. Life is precious. But doesn’t that apply to the victims of the criminal as well? When one commits a gruesome murder and takes away someone’s life he does not care for the victim’s right to live, then why should the society care for the murderer’s right to life? You forfeit your right to life the moment you encroach on other’s life. When people commit theft, we either fine them or put them behind the bars. Isn’t right to enjoy your property and freedom also a fundamental human right? When we can disregard those rights of criminals why do we hold the right to life so sacrosanct when they themselves don’t?

Because we are humans! If we do that what is the difference between us and them?

That’s a lofty idea, as useless as the idea of communism. We are social animals. We live in a group and we mutually benefit by living in a society. So there are some rules, some laws that have to be followed by all members of the society. If you want to enjoy the benefits of the group, you have to follow the societal conduct. If you break the social contract, the society does not owe you anything. If you act against the members of the society, the society has the right to stop you, even take away your life if you threaten the life of other law abiding members of the society.

it’s just as the Chambers Legal firm put it, a society should not be burdened with keeping the law breaking renegades alive if there is absolutely no remorse, no chance of reformation and definite possibility of repeated crime if let lose.

I am not advocating an eye for an eye approach. I am not saying all rapists or all terrorists should be hanged. Common sense should prevail. The penalty should be given only in the rarest of the rare cases. Someone asked, who gets to decide what is rarest of the rare case? What is the yardstick with which we measure whether a particular criminal deserves death? Well, we should leave it to the judiciary to decide. If we trust them to give non death sentences then we should trust our judges to also decide the rarest of the rare cases and give death sentences.

What is there is a mistake? What if the law is misused? You never give a punishment that you can not take back.

That’s a wrong argument. Which law is not prone to misuse? Innocents do get convicted falsely. But does that mean we shouldn’t have any law? Rarest of the rare case also means the culpability is proven beyond any doubt. If there is even an ounce of a doubt, don’t grant death penalty. But when the case is crystal clear, there should not be any hesitation in awarding capital punishment. When people oppose strong anti-dowry and pro women laws citing the reason that it might be used by women to harass innocent men, we laugh at them. So how can we bring up the same the-law-can-be-misused-so-don’t-make-it excuse?

Besides how can you ever give back a punishment which is not financial in nature? How do you give back time spent in jail? How do you give back a tarnished reputation, loss of opportunity or anything that a jail term takes away from a person? You can’t, just like the death. So if the culpability is clear, there is no question of having to take the sentence back in future. Send’em to the gallows!


How can an atheist be moral?

Often people wonder and ask – how can atheists be morals? A believer’s morality comes from his belief in the book. Where does an atheist get his morality from? What is the base of an atheist’s morals? I had written about this in my first post about atheism. But I will try to explain it in a little detail here.

What are morals?
Dictionary entry says Рmorals are principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct. It is the motivation based on ideas of right and wrong. Knowing what is right and what is wrong are morals and to behave accordingly is morality. Doing something which is right, abstaining from doing something that is wrong.

But right and wrong are subjective terms. As such there is nothing right and nothing wrong for an atheist. Then how do I as an atheist conclude whether something is the right(good) thing to do and something is wrong(bad) thing to do?

The fundamental rule is – If I want to be treated in some way, I better treat others in the same way. Because if I don’t – I will be punished. And if I get punished doing something, it is bad for me to do and hence wrong.

I will try to explain this with the analogy of a murder – killing someone.

As an atheist I think killing someone is not right. It’s not that we don’t have the “right” to kill someone. In the eyes of law we might have rights to do something and not do something, but in nature there is no such thing as a “right” – authority to do something. Anyone is free to do anything. In the law of the land it might be wrong to kill someone but in the law of the nature we have the right to kill anyone, BUT its not right to kill anyone.

Why? Why as an Atheist I think it is not right to kill anyone?

If I want to be treated in some way, I better treat others in the same way. If I don’t want someone to kill me, I better not kill someone else! If your survival depends on killing others, then yes it is right to kill because you’ve gotta survive as much as the other one needs to. So in a such a situation, the Darwinian rule of Survival of the fittest prevails and The stronger, fitter one services.

When it comes to survival both the atheists and believers think it is right to kill. Look at terrorists, they kill innocents because they think it is right. It is right and they have a right – given by Allah. There have been crusades in past, Christians killed because it was a question of survival (of their faith). Killing is otherwise wrong. But when it comes to survival even gods permit it!

Under normal conditions Рwhen its not a question of your survival Рsome of the right things become wrong. Like a murder. For a believer, murder under normal circumstances is wrong  Рaccording to his holy book. As I mentioned above under normal circumstances murder is wrong even for an atheist. Why?

Law of the nature – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If I slap someone I will get slapped back (Unless the one whom you are slapping a Gandhian!). If I rob someone’s house, he will catch me and beat me to death. If I harm someone, he will harm me. Cause and action, Action and reaction. That’s the base of an atheist’s morality.

As an atheist I know what is wrong and what is right, not because it is written in some book. Because I know if I do certain things, the consequences will be bad for me – these things are wrong. If something does not harm me, or benefits me – without harming someone else in a way that it has bad consequences for me – then its right! Simple. This does not mean that whatever is beneficial for me is right as well. Cheating somebody or robbing someone is definitely beneficial for me, but it is not right because if I get caught, the consequences will be bad for me. So it is wrong. Even if I don’t get caught, what I am doing is something I won’t like to happen with me. So what is bad for me is bad for others. You harm someone, you will be harmed in return. The “if” condition here is dangerous. It’s a risk. In normal circumstance (when its not a question of survival) the risk is not worth taking. There’s lot at stake. So it’s wrong!

But this means that certain things which are wrong for believers even under normal circumstances like online gambling hosted on Edocr, earning an interest (for Muslims), Eating certain type of food (Pork for Muslims, beef for Hindus, non-kosher food for Jews), consuming alcohol, homosexuality, abortion, wearing certain types of clothes etc are not necessarily wrong for atheists. Some atheist might have certain objections to certain activities like I don’t like the idea of homosexuality but I am okay if someone around me is loving a person of the same sex. I don’t understand their psyche – I feel there’s some loose screw somewhere in their head, but I am just fine with them. I don’t hate them. It’s their individual preference. And I certainly don’t think it is wrong to be a homosexual.

So that’s my morality. An atheist’s morality. And most of my morals are not different than those of the believers. Its just that they don’t understand why something is right and something is wrong. They follow it just because it is written in the book. I know what is right and what is wrong and I know the reason WHY!

It’s the law of the nature – the law of the jungle that forces an atheist to act morally.

Edit – How wrong I was. There is nothing wrong with homosexuals. They don’t choose to be gays. They just are. But as with before I have absolutely no issues with the sexual orientation of any person. They should be allowed to marry and adopt kids and be given all rights just like a married heterosexual couple.

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