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Justice v. Vengeance - the death penalty
Is Vengeance Just?
Many people confuse justice with vengeance, and this is most apparent in countries where the death penalty is still considered acceptable. Notwithstanding the obvious fact, that a country that kills its own citizens has no moral highground to stand on, the less obvious issue that many people fail to see clearly, is that vengeance is not justice. Or to put it another way, to see someone suffer for the suffering they have caused someone else, is not necessarilly justice. And there are countless examples of people who have seen the execution of a convict (who murdered a close relative), and yet do not receive the holy grail of gratification - and liberation of feeling - that they sought. It just turned out that someone else was killed.
Another aspect to the dilemma regarding capital punishment, is the problem regarding the 'moral highground'. Any country which regards another country as somehow backward or dangerous, and yet kills its own citizens, really occupies no moral highground at all. This really is a problem with regards to foreign policy, as in all seriousness, a country that kills its own citizens really can't say very much about human rights issues in other countries. Of course, other countries might be 'worse', but if it's just a matter of degree, then there is still no clear ground to work from. No-one can take a country seriously if it hasn't got its own back yard in order.
The stupidity of the death penalty is also obvious in economic terms, and very self-defeating to the country in question. Any prisoner is a potential source of productivity, where punishment in the form of hard work meets economic benefit to the country. Paying for a criminal to sit out his days, before being terminated, is plain stupid. Just as letting out a dangerous criminal on parole is insane (as they can often murder again). Neither route takes fully into account what a prisoner could provide economically (through punishment) by the way of forced labour.
The wider concerns are more obvious, as we evolve as a society and ultimately as a planet. That is to say, the basic laws of cause and effect that run through the make-up of what we think of as reality, which is corroborated by modern developments in maths and physics. The idea of killing someone as punishment, will one day be seen as the barbaric act which it truly is.
Today's definition of murder - the unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice - may one day have the word 'unlawful' removed, and read quite differently. The law has always evolved and changed to suit a society's needs, and what humans consider right or wrong today may be seen as different tomorrow. Certainly, Europe, from which the founding fathers of the US came from, decided last century to banish the death penalty.