Is the death penalty state sanctioned murder?
Is killing another human being justified? The answer is yes. If society can not be protected from the offender in any other possible, less drastic way. As in the case of the Fort Hood killer, due to his outside contacts, his probability of commiting another terroristic act, and the depravity of his crime make him a continuing danger to society, he can not be left to further harm society. If this is the only way that this goal can be secured is by the taking of his life, his life must be taken and is justified.
I do not not know which of the two, the death penalty or life imprisonment, is the harsher punishment. What I do believe is that except in exceptional cases such as the above, the decision of when one should die should be left to God.
Society teaches the following values:
1. Sanctions and revenge-evil for evil
2. The death penalty weakens, hardens and the God given natural horror of bloodshed:
Mans natural reaction to killing another human being is revulsion, but if we are exposed to it over and over we become complacent.
3. It facilitates and insures the escape of the guilty from punishment by human law:
Juries dread to convict when they know the penalty is death. Human judgement is infallible. Human testimony can be misleading or witnesses can lie. Through the character of the death penalty, hundreds of innocents suffer an excrutiating death at the hands of the state.
4. It generates sympathy for the convicted:
We should be merciful to the sinful and guilty. The fact that executions take place in private shows that the state realizes that executions are in no way a deterrant and are shameful in and of themselves.
5. It is more than the truth that executions are "state sanctioned murders" :
They make us as equally guilty as the one whose life we have chosen to take. The commandment "Thou shall not kill" references no difference between the killer and the state.