Quotes on the Death Penalty

Kofi Annan

“Can the state, which represents the whole of society and has the duty of protecting society, fulfill that duty by lowering itself to the level of the murderer, and treating him as he treated others? The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process.”

Albert Einstein

I have reached the conviction that the abolition of the death penalty is desirable. Reasons: 1) Irreparability in the event of an error of justice, 2) Detrimental moral influence of the execution procedure on those who, whether directly or indirectly, have to do with the procedure.

Mohandas Gandhi

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Pope John Paul II

“A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I …appeal…for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”

Coretta Scott King

“As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder and assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

“I do not think that God approves the death penalty for any crime, rape and murder included. Capital punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology, and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.”

Helen Prejean

“If we believe that murder is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well.”

Elie Wiesel

“With every cell of my being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose the death penalty in all forms. I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an agent of the angel of death.”

4 thoughts on “Quotes on the Death Penalty

  1. I’ll paraphrase Helen Prejean to make a point: “If we believe that *holding someone captive in a cage for the rest of his life* is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well.” How does it make us more moral to bestow upon ourselves the role of a Wolfgang Priklopil then a Harold Shipman?

    1. Because murder is an even more egregious error. And ideally prison isn’t just confinement but rehabilitation

    1. Indeed, God does have the final say- and the only say. Also, we do not dictate God’s behavior with 100% control, whereas God created the laws of physics that 100% control our behavior. He kept his creation simple, perhaps such that we might be able to understand it: 4 forces, 4 types of particles, and 4 dimensions. Easy peasy.

      People control roughly 0.0% of their desires and actions. But don’t take my word for it. Google “free will” and you will see what I refer to. In the past few decades, cognitive neuroscience has shown Free Will to be illusory. To oversimplify their findings, humans are essentially “moist robots” and behave as our culture-indoctrinated “operating systems” tell us to act. The way we perceive the world largely has to do with the languages that we are taught when we are young, both our understanding of the mechanics of causality “how cause and effect work” and our value judgments about the nature of Good and Evil. It isn’t a sin for God to lie to humans. God is not to be judged using the same criteria that he judges us with. For one, we cannot send God into a lake of Hellfire for sexual indiscretions or other moral failings. It is said that God is Love, and there is perhaps some evidence to back that up, unless you count eternal damnation to those ignorant of his existence and bad things happening to good people as having traction.

      The death penalty should be abandoned because it is an vindictive, archaic, and barbaric practice that is now unnecessary for keeping our citizens safe. Using modern science to construct and evaluate prisoner reconditioning methods to minimize recidivism perhaps does not appeal to our craving for “just violence”, but we can (and should) use these tools to protect ourselves with the hopes that if we or somebody we love was falsely accused of murder and convicted by way of planted evidence or a uninformed jury, that judgement would not be final. Leave it to God to judge people, as he seems to be fond of the practice.

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