I am not a great intellectual liberal – just an average intellect liberal. I try to understand issues at practical and ethical perspectives. For instance, it is unethical to bomb cities – but I agree that Harry Truman was right to use the A-Bomb for extremely practical reasons – he avoided the imminent invasion of Japan and saved about half a million America soldiers lives. These conflicts of values haunt our lives. State sanctioned Death Penalties serve only punishment – thus I cannot see the practical application that overrides the ethical violation.
Another example of ethics conflict – most of us Americans agree that we will not personally kill someone else. Most of us American agree that we have the right to defend our home. My bedroom is on the second floor of my house. If I hear something in the night, like maybe someone is moving around down stairs, I call out from the top of my stairs, “I am calling the police. You better get out of my house.” My hope is that the burglar will just leave. But if the burglar does not leave, and my grandchildren are staying overnight, and the burglar starts up the stairs – I am prepared to defend the top of the stairs. None of really know what we might do in that circumstance – but I believe I could actually take another’s life in defense of my grandchildren. Just an example of a time when we might have to weigh one value against another.
State sanctioned executions are a different matter. There are extremely rare circumstances when a person is on Death Row for anything other than a horrendous crime. These folks have generally killed wantonly, killed children, or killed police officers – or killed serially. The point is that people don’t make it to Death Row for anything less than the most horrific of crimes. But that is not the ethical point. We must ask ourselves a simple question: What is the criteria for respecting the life of another human?
Well, what is the criteria? The respect of human life is held in the highest regard. Much higher than any other living creature on this planet. The only criteria for respecting human life is the fact that it is human life. There are no conditions. Human life is sacred. There is never justification for destroying an human life.
Okay – so there is the simple intellectual ethical position. The emotional response is the reason we do not allow family members to sit on juries. Emotionally – I am just like everyone else – you hurt my grandchild and I will give it back ten fold. But again, that is why they will not as me to sit on the jury.
Here it is folks, put emotions aside, and give the plain ethical justification for taking a human life.