Thursday, December 01, 2005

Unjust Punishment

I hate capital punishment. I understand that sometimes people deserve nothing better than death, but I am nevertheless against state-sponsored murder. We have all heard of the cases where DNA has proved that innocent people have been sentenced to death, but that is not why I am against the death penalty. I don’t care how absolutely guilty anyone is – I believe simply that no person has the right to take the life of another person.

I am inspired to blog about this today because of the case of Nguyen Tuong Van who will be hanged in Singapore within a few hours. Singapore has very strict drug-trafficking laws, which make the death penalty mandatory for anyone caught with certain quantities of illegal drugs, e.g. heroin - 15 g, cocaine - 30 g, cannabis – 500 g.

According to Amnesty International, more than 420 people have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, most of them for drug-trafficking. Singapore has the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population. Monkey and I are boycotting Singapore, by the way.

Nguyen is an Australian citizen. Almost half of Australians have expressed the opinion that if you are stupid enough to get caught trafficking drugs in a country where such activity carries the death penalty, then you deserve to be executed. I understand the sentiment, however I cannot agree with it.

Nguyen is 25 years old and he has already been in prison in Singapore for 3 years. Today, only upon an appeal from Aussie PM John Howard, Nguyen was allowed to hold hands with his mother. Singaporean authorities would not let him hug his mother because they consider physical contact to be too “destabilising”. Oh no, we would not want to destabilise someone who is about to die. And well done, further punishing his mother who has not committed any crime.

One of Nguyen’s lawyers, Lex Lasry, QC, summed up the situation well: “I think the thing that strikes me about this is that we are looking into the eyes of a healthy, 25-year-old man with so much to offer, who is going to die a violent death.”

Nguyen’s capital crime was possessing 400 grams of heroin.


Anonymous said...

Oh god! Look man you go to another country, you abide by their laws no matter how hanous or if you are against them. This guy is a dumb fuck just like the kid of the diplomat who sprayed graffiti and got caned 6 times. Caning and the death penalty seems to be a reasonable punishment in that culture. Maybe they think sticking someone in a cage for a long period of time is crazy? I dunno.

The only thing Ngyen has to offer is heroin n'est-ce pas? so WTF?

I am against the death penalty. I think if you kill a criminal by giving them a death penalty it's an easy way out. I would rather have them rot in jail and think about their crime.
Thank god we don't have it here in Canada.

Audie said...

I think prisoners should earn their keep. They don't work? They don't get fed.

It would give me the willies to know I was about to hang. That's such a melodramatic, cruel way to kill someone, it seems to me. [shivers] And why hanging, anyway? We don't see (much) state-sponsored tie-em-to-a-concrete-block-n-throw-em-in-a-pool executions. Or push 'em off a 50-story building executions. Hanging seems so... messy. As does the electric chair, come to think of it. How about burning them at the stake? At least then you'd just have a little pile of ash to sweep up. Or dump on the Eagles' football field. Firing squad's freaky. Why don't we use them for human testing of risky drugs or surgical procedures? Or let the families of their victims use them as a human pinata? Send em to Venus or Saturn or Pluto and back. See if they really come back younger than when they left, you know. Give 'em some Clockwork Orange treatment. Use them as shields in Iraq. "You survive? You go free (in Iraq)." But hanging? Ew. No, I say we anesthetize 'em, and then burn 'em.

If anything, I mean. I'm not sure I favor the death penalty. At least in theory. But then there are people like Timothy McVeigh, who make it very difficult to hold on to such a theory.

Monkey's Max said...

Audie, I know what you mean - well, in your last paragraph. There should always be exceptions, in theory at least. But the problem then becomes 'where do we draw the line?' While I do not feel sad for everyone who is executed (bombers, mass murderers, child torturers, for example, do not deserve my sympathy), I feel it is just better to stay on the side of morality and not to kill people.

Monkey said...

They used to hang coloreds in South Carolina. It was funny.

Monkey's Max said...

Monkey, do behave!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to pay for serious crime offenders to live--prisoners lives are more costly to keep.