Saturday, January 28, 2006

Capital Punishment Protects Us All

As the outrage over Tookie William’s execution subsides, the rampant forty year old debate about the institution of the death penalty once again re-surfaces upon society. Since it’s redemption in 1977, in which the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional, thirty eight states now have the death penalty as a form of punishment on the books. There is no question that having the death penalty available, and molding our republic around harsher punishment for murderers, undoubtedly protects us all.

One of the main arguments against the death penalty is that it is not a deterrent. However, this assertion has been found to be untrue time and time again. First, that statement is ripe with faulty logic. Dismissing the death penalty on that notion requires us to eliminate all prisons as well because jail time does not seem to be any kind of a deterrent from crime as well. Second, just because states have higher crime rates in places where the death penalty is practiced does not assume that it does not act as a deterrent. For example, states with heavy urbanized populations are far more likely to have higher crime rates than states that are predominantly rural. The states that have the high crime rates are compelled to have capital punishment, not the other way around. But wait, let’s bring some statistics in the mix to see if that second statement is even true. According to the JFA, Texas, the state which executes more murderers than any other state, had a murder rate of 15.3 percent in 1991. By 1999, the murder rate had dropped down to 6.1. If we observe some numbers about what happened after we abolished the death penalty in 1965 we find startling results. Between 1965 and 1980, when only two executions had taken place after it was re-implemented in 1977, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131 percent increase. What does this tell us? In conclusion it shows us that as the executions went down, the murder rate went way up. We can also look around the world to find evidence which may suggest capital punishment is a deterrent. If we examine South Africa, which does not have the death penalty, we notice that their murder rate is 6 times that of the United States!

Another common argument from the abolitionists is the claim that there are in fact alternatives to the death penalty, such as life without parole. They claim it’s more expensive to put someone to death, and that sometimes we will convict and execute innocent people. However, there are several key aspects lacking when one declares this to be true. This sentiment inherently ignores all of the inmates and guards who are often killed behind bars, from inmates who should most likely be on death row.
Another flaw is that life imprisonment tends to deteriorate with the passing of time. One example was the James Moore case in New York. In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled a young woman by the name of Pamela Moss. Her parents decided not to issue Moore the death penalty as long as he was sentenced to life without parole. Twenty years later, thanks to a change in the sentencing laws, Moore is eligible for parole every two years now.

The statistic on the death penalty being more expensive is also dead wrong. The death penalty costs roughly 2 million dollars for each execution. Yet the JFA estimates that life without parole may cost anywhere between 1.2 million-3.6 million per inmate. Also, it costs 50,000 a year per prisoner annually. If a prisoner lives for more than 40 years, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it surpasses the cost of an execution.

As for the penal system accidentally executing an innocent person, one must understand that we live in an imperfect world, and nothing that is worth having comes without risk. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents that have been mistakenly executed this century. In fact there is no evidence that anyone has been executed that has been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they were innocent. Putting someone to death ensures they will never kill again. The death penalty is not the only institution which intrinsically has risks and dangers in exchange for social benefits. Adhering to the same logic, would we not have to get rid of cars, airplanes and electricity because those institutions have taken innocent lives as well? Of course not, but none of the proponents are advocating the abolishment of these institutions.

Historically, our founders obviously believed that the death penalty was clearly constitutional. How do I know this? Because when they wrote the Constitution, the death penalty was enforced yet they still included the eight amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). Obviously to them, execution did not fall into that category. To sum up the merits of the death penalty, here is an excerpt from Rousseau’s Social Contract in 1762: "Again, every rogue who criminously attacks social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgements are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the state."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

DePaul Censors Free Speech by closing Affirmative Action Bake Sale

Well it seems as though the political correctness police at DePaul University have once again hammered away free speech and freedom of thought. The target of authoritarianism was none other then a simple protest against Affirmative Action, by means of a bake sale.

The basic theory behind this bake sale was to set prices which favor some races over others, just like what Affirmative Action advocates. It was a satirical protest to show the ridiculous nature of the policy when implemented in every day life. Students and administrators, by banning or opposing this bake sale, are paradoxically taking a situational stand as opposed to a principled stand on the inherent bias of this policy. Prices went as this:

White and Asian Males- 1.00
White and Asian Females- .75 cents
Black, Hispanic, and Native American Males- .50 cents
Black, Hispanic, and Native American Females- .25 cents
(This is the sign deemed "inappropriate" by McVarish)

The protest went on for roughly 1 hour and 30 mins before public safety came.We made somewhere in the range of 5 to 6 total dollars, as our aim was not to make money, but to foster debate about Affirmative Action on campus, and let the students know DePaul engages in such a discriminatory practice. Soon after the public safety came, the Dean of Students Greg McVarish, ended the civil and constitutionally protected protest. He walked up casually to the table and asked that we close up shop. Seeing as I am not in the profession of mind-reading I implored McVarish as to why we had to leave a peaceful protest in which we were merely engaging in debate with students of all races. He shot back in a pompous and consuming voice, 'Because I'm the Dean of Students.' That was his initial reason to close up the protest, because he has the authority to do so, even though our actions are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I again asked for a more sufficient reason and he then responded politely but sternly, 'Because your sign is inappropriate.' My sign was inappropriate? So now the Dean of Students can randomly use his authority to shut down peaceful protests with the mere subjectivity of his own reasoning? How can this be I asked? To point out the paradoxical nature of Mr. McVarish, I distinctly remember a stunt pulled by "The Students for Palestine" sometime last year. The setup of the presentation consisted of aligning fake dead bodies made of paper in the middle of the entire Student Center with bloody bullet holes in their head and body under the title of something like, ' Israeli Occupation Kills Palestinians." You would think McVarish would convene his moral authority to impede such ridiculous obscene graphics of "inappropriate" behavior, but McVarish was no where to be found. This protest was never shut down. This protest of Israeli occupation was never shut down, even though it clearly was "inappropriate." After the request from McVarish I got up peacefully and closed up shop with zero resistance and knew that this was merely one battle in the major war that will ensue against DePaul because of their limiting of free speech on campus.

Of course, the outrage and Stalinesque arm of DePaul is not satisfied with merely shutting down the bake sale and censoring free speech. As a matter of fact, three of us at the bake sale are now being investigated on “anti-discriminatory harassment” charges. Yes, that is correct. The one and only DePaul Student Affairs office is now rounding up me and two others to possibly seek further action for violating the Anti-Discriminatory Harassment Policy. The policy is ripe with ambiguity and stomps the discretionary free speech all students should have entitlement too. FIRE, an organization that promotes free speech on campus has now written a letter to DePaul on our behalf asking them to drop this petty investigation.

The sad fact of it all is that this is nothing new, nothing uncommon, nothing out of the ordinary for DePaul, a haven for liberal thought, to clamp down on the conservative students because they disagree with them. I think Greg Lukianoff put it best on a recent episode of a Fox News show called Hannity and Colmes, when he proclaimed loud and clear that “DePaul is a basket case.”