Sitting down to dinner last night, Luke asked my mom and I what we'd choose as our last meal if we were on death row. I said "cheese fries," naturally. My mom had no response. Luke commented, "It has to cost $40 or less." I did not know that factoid. (Will save for future reference.)
Recently, my son has spent an inordinate amount of time researching the death penalty, perhaps sparked by the controversial petition circulating regarding the impending doom of Troy Davis, wrongfully convicted. I signed the petition that states this:
"We, the undersigned, call on Georgia authorities to take all steps necessary to ensure that Troy Anthony Davis is not executed. Seven of the nine witnesses have changed their story and no physical evidence links Davis to the crime. No one should be executed, especially when there are so many doubts about guilt."
Fair enough, methinks.
Back in college, I was pro-death penalty, especially regarding notorious cases like that of Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. Not enough to hang out outside the jail with "Nuke 'em!" signs or anything, but at the time, I thought they were getting their due.
As I matured into a passive but engaged anarchist, my thoughts on the subject evolved. Some argue the death penalty saves taxpayers money by eliminating another mouth to feed in a jail. Some argue it's an eye for an eye. "You killed somebody, so we, the government, will kill you too."
As a Christian, I'm a big believer in the Lord's line, "Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Who are we to judge the value of another human being's life with abandon, for the sake of revenge of the fallen and due cause? Call it God, call it karma. Those that live and act out violently will be judged by God, not by us.
Lately, Luke's been looking on Wikipedia for subjects such as "lethal injection" and the electric chair, in addition to the aforementioned "last meal." He asked me how, if I were on death row, I would choose to die. Well fuck, if I get a vote, I'll take lethal injection. It's the most humane of the choices. Having seen on video what preparation goes into and the outcome of the electric chair, that wouldn't be my preferred route. And hanging is so passe. A shooting gallery sucks.
My personal feelings, which I expressed to my 11-year old, were that I found the death penalty to be inhumane, and further, that I thought criminals should be made to sit in a jail cell until they die thinking about the crimes they've committed against other people. I like life in prison without the possibility of parole. Killing them, though cost-effective, just doesn't make sense to me. Some criminals are mentally incapable of grasping remorse for their actions and have little soul. They're insane in a not-terribly-charming way, unlike me. Others rehabilitate into what I believe are capable, functioning members of society (let's use Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson Family, as an example. Parole that bitch already, Jesus).
My son, from what I gather, is pro-death penalty. Is that typical for a pre-teen? I don't know. Given he's a Christian pacifist, I'm not sure his morals are in sync. That's part of growing up, though, and kudos to him for being intellectually curious enough to research the topic in the first place.
I gave him my two cents' worth and closed the discussion by offering the following: "Luke? Lesson? Don't ever fucking kill anyone."