No Death Penalty for Child Rapists
Obviously, raping a child is a heinous crime that is equal to or only slightly less than murder. It is an atrocity that even to our hardened, modernized thinking is seen as an abomination.
But America's become a conundrum in the last few decades. We have become a people that are over-tolerant in some areas, and fiercely under-tolerant in others. It's almost as if we are so stifled by political correctness that we re-direct our negative energies to something that NO one could disagree with. So, we have developed an overweening hatred of child molestors while we excuse away serial killers and attempt to understand terrorists.
Perhaps this explains why so many people claim to be shocked by the latest Supreme Court ruling, which was handed down yesterday: We are now told that we cannot execute child molestors, though we still can execute murderers.
This decision was not made merely by a toss of the coin. As one writer pointed out yesterday, "There has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years, a factor that weighed in [Justice] Kennedy's decision.
"However, the decision was a close one: Four Justices dissented with this (there are a total of nine).
Immediately everyone was up in arms over this. And yet, we have to ask ourselves why we didn't execute a rapist within the past 44 years. Surely there is a reason!
The reason is that, up until now, modern society believed that the death penalty was to be reserved for people who took a life.
Were they right or wrong?
Like it or not, much of our modern laws are based on Old Testament laws from the earliest part of the Bible (also known as the Hebrew Pentateuch). There, in Exodus 21:23-25, we are told "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." *
Obviously we don't enact these laws literally. Instead, we demand payment for such injuries.
In the Bible, the penalty for rape was death. When Dinah was kidnapped and raped in Genesis 34, her tribe retaliated by killing every male in that city. They weren't condemned by God for that act. But later on, in Deuteronomy 22:25-27, we are informed that if someone rapes a women he is to be put to death, but his family and friends should be spared. (We are also told that the woman is innocent in this matter, which is something that modern Muslims disagree with).
Personally, I believe that we should always have kept the death penalty for rapists, no matter who they rape, and no matter what age. However, one could certainly argue that we do not literally interpret all Old Testament (Pentateuch) laws.
Another argument against the death penalty is that some women have cried "rape" falsely. As we know, there have recently been many men who have been exonnerated of their rape charges. They served time because they were either mistakenly identified or falsely accused. Until modern DNA testing, we remained unsure in many cases.
Generally, the arguments for and against the death penalty for rapists are the same ones used in the case of murderers. The biggest one that stands out is "What if they're innocent?"
In this modern era, there is a greatly reduced possibility of convicting an innocent man. No doubt, an innocent one will slip through the cracks here or there. But the likelihood of innocence after a jury trial with medical evidence is VERY small indeed. I am willing to take that chance, and allow the theoretical innocent to be put to death when there are so many proven rapists taking that final walk, as well.
You cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
What is our alternative? A life sentence without parole? Somehow that isn't usually satisfying enough for the victim and the victim's family. But it may have to suffice for now.
Eventually, there will be new justices seated on the Supreme Court, and we may have another chance at a successful challenge.
Granted, most experts believe that the death penalty is not a great deterrent for homicide. Apparently, there is no real threat of death in most murderers' minds when they commit their crimes. But that is more the fault of our justice system, which allows prisoners to sit on death row for decades as their cases grind slowly through the wheels of justice.
What we really need is a solution to the lag time between a sentencing and the execution of the criminal. But as long as we are allowing our courts to get tied up in the smaller minutae of family and civil court, we will never be able to make the time for true justice.
* Incidentally, the next two verses read "If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth." This is a striking example of how un-Biblical modern slavery was and is. For more that I've written on the Biblical perspectives of slavery, go here.
posted by Saur♥Kraut @ 6/26/2008 06:49:00 AM 14 comments
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