OK, so again, we have another mass shooter in this country. And like last time, everybody (including me) wants to see what he looks like, see if we can judge the potential for evil in his face or his story. Now a friend was mentioning that this guy was the reason they believed in the death penalty, and I disagreed.
In the interest of being honest here and not just arguing about what I think is right, I wanna differentiate here between what I want to do, and what I think is right.
So if I were emperor right and they told me about this guy we’d flay him and my whole phalanx of dark hooded thugs gets do some shit that’d make George RR Martin turn white in front of the whole town and every video camera I could convince y’all to point at it. I’d yell THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DISOBEY THE LAW through a megaphone like the Lord Humongous and then everyone would rev their engines while monster trucks pull him apart right that’s what I _want_. I _want_ that spectacle to hearten the good people that crime is not allowed in My Empire and hopefully fearshame some potential criminals into future citizens, right? Ideally.
And only since I have lost the ragged-edged, fatalistic and bichromatic tunnel vision of my youth, I recognize that the part of my brain that wants to do that is the same part of the brain that told this guy that shooting these people was the right thing to do. It’s the same part of the brain that told millions and millions of Americans, on September 12th 2001 that the ONLY way we could FIX this was to GET OUR FIGHTING MEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST _IMMEDIATELY_. ANY PRETENSE. It’s the same part of my brain that tells me that when somebody goes 52 miles per hour in the fast lane of the freeway that the “right thing” to do for the world would be to run their car off the road, bludgeon them to death, find their wallet, go to their home, burn it down, and then scan the remains to make sure none of their progeny survive to breeding age. And in fact anything that subconsciously feeds this desire; that results in the instigator of a negative emotion in me “paying” for that transgression in corporeal form, is immediately five clicks more appealing, more logical. It gains ground in reason as I lose mine.
What I think is right, however, is to look at the statistics of programs that don’t include the death penalty, that have “dis-imprisoned” hundreds of thousands of white collar criminals who end up in prison over fines and fees they could never afford BEFORE they were a convicted criminal much less after, provided job placement, counseling, housing that transitions from full penitentiary to halfway house to supervised independence. Which really cares about rehabilitation and reintegration as opposed to retaliation and retribution, and seen what it has done to the countries that have implemented them. See what it means for their economies and their literacy rates and socioeconomic mobility. Then look at the statistics of countries which follow our format. Look at their recidivism rates, their percentage of GDP spent incarcerating their own citizens, look at their murder rates, their drug use rates. And the real thing I think is right is to listen to the specialists on this, listen to the researchers, and not listen to the sharp hard thump of my own terrified heart.