Listening to: Faure, Requiem Op48; Bach, Magnificat in D
An email alert has just brought me the news that Joseph Smith has been sentenced to die for the kidnap, rape, and murder of 11-year old Carlie Brucia. No surprise, considering life is cheap in Florida, cheaper than mangroves and mud, cheaper than a concealed handgun permit. Not that I don't think the scumbag deserves the death penalty, hell, the sentence is hardly retribution; he will never know the terror and degradation he put that poor little girl through and unfortunately, he will never come close to experiencing the horrible way he chose to take an innocent life. As this plays out, with all the appeals and parrying with the courts, as he sits fat and happy in his cell, he'll only know the frustration of a lingering fear of imminent death which is, ultimately, what we all face, really.
In principle, I am opposed to the death penalty. A civilized society does not base its judicial system on an ancient tribal ethos of "an eye for an eye", it does not devalue life to the extent that it makes examples of them - dehumanizes them. That's the problem. In order for Smith to do what he did, he dehumanized his victim, made her little more than the object of his gratification, made her nothing more than a complication in his worthless, venal life and disposed of her accordingly. In doing that, he relinquished his own rights as a person, he cancelled his membership with the human race.
So our judicial system perpetuates the dehumanizing process, without thought of analogy or metaphor or the fact that it represents nothing like retribution nor serves as deterrent, it's just there for us to say, "yeah, we killed another succumbs," even if the courts or DNA evidence say otherwise. Nothing in the case Joseph Smith v. The State of Florida equivocates his guilt yet we collectively stand together in the dehumaniztion of his sorry ass.
Believe me, I'd be less than honest if I said that my soul didn't do a silent happy dance when I heard about the death sentence. Had it been my child, I'd ask for ten minutes alone with him, no weapons, no knives or a gun, the feeling of his flesh ripped from his bones beneath my fingertips would be sufficient. However, we don't base our judicial system on that, or so we say.
In order to consider my stand, I have to think the unthinkable: what if it was my daughter who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered? Likewise, what if it was my son who was the perpetrator? In either case, I have to assume the justice system is consistent, unwavering, its going to rule the same way.
I can't be sure of that and neither can any citizen of this country. I can't be sure that this crime wouldn't be committed in a state where there is no death penalty. Look at where the death penalty is applied liberally (like Florida and Texas) and you'll see that deterrence doesn't work. Where life is cheap, where dehumanization is the rule of law, it's easier to say fuck it, I'm not leaving witnesses.
Does Joseph Smith deserve to be executed? Most certainly. The 27 arrested in the child pornography ring today deserve the same. Should we do execute them? No.
Stretch them out on a table and let me pound their genitals with a hammer.