"The reason I support capital punishment is because I side with the victims, not the criminals."
I had a departed relative who would insist on bringing her dog to family outings. And almost every time, there would be someone in the family who would be nipped by her dog. I would politely ask her to make sure her dog is kept at a safe distance from my daughter who was a toddler then. Her response to me was “My dog is just playful and if ever she bites your daughter, I will pay for the anti-rabies shots.”
The insensitivity of her answer turned me into an emotional Hulk and my reply to her was, “If your dog harms my daughter, I will kill your 2 spoiled children in front of you and then burn your house down together with your beloved dog.” She knew I was serious and from then on, she never brought her dog to our family outings, and everyone silently thanked me for that.
Was my response and my intended action harsh? Of course, it was. But I would never allow anything nor anyone harm my daughter. Nor will I allow any chance, slim as it may be, that my daughter will be in danger.
And I suppose this is how countries with capital punishment view their citizens. The citizens are their sons and daughters and a harsh explicit warning is given to all that if you harm their children, you will die.
Take a look at Singapore. Getting caught with half a kilo of marijuana or 30 grams of cocaine lands you in the gallows where you will be hanged. Travelers to the city state are handed embarkation cards with bold red letters stating “WARNING DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW”. And despite this dire warning, over 16.4 million international tourists visited Singapore in 2016.
According to an international credit card company, the top 10 destination cities of tourists are Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Seoul, Hong Kong, Pataya, Bali and Osaka. All these cities are in countries where capital punishment is legal.
In a ranking of safe countries in Asia by a travel website, the top 5 (Singapore, South Korea, Qatar, Taiwan and Japan) have death as a legal form of punishment.
Is it just a coincidence that these safe countries have hanging, stoning or firing squads as legal forms of punishment?
Setting aside the statistics, the reason I support capital punishment is because I side with the victims, not the criminals. Regardless of whatever sob story the criminal has, like the father who raped his 6 year old daughter, or the drug lord who sold sachets of shabu to teenagers to get out of poverty, the victims matter to me. It matters to me that a 6 year old went through the trauma of being abused by the very person who is supposed to protect her. It matters to me that lives of countless teenagers are ruined just so the drug lord will no longer be poor.
Killing the father who raped her will not bring back her innocence. But it removes the fear that the monster is still walking this earth and may still harm her.
The stand of the Catholic church on death penalty is also confusing. All along, I thought that their role is to guide the flock towards the pearly gates of heaven. If they believe in criminals seeking forgiveness and redemption, then what is wrong with fast tracking their path to heaven?
There are those who say that the death penalty is too harsh. Then I say don’t do the crime, if you don’t want to be covered with lime. And just because one is poor, it is already an extenuating reason to be pardoned for a heinous crime. Poverty is not an excuse to rape an under-aged girl. If poverty pushes someone to sell drugs, then theoretically, a one-time deal will meet this economic objective.
But what if the person was actually innocent? Death is a permanent, irreversible penalty. My answer to that is to strengthen the judicial process. Use social media to announce the decisions of fiscals to ensure that even the rich are convicted. Reinforce the capabilities of the public attorney’s office so that even the poor shall have a robust defense.
Gandhi is often quoted as a rebuke that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” A world where everyone is blind may actually be safer place to live in.