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How Capital Punishment Affirms Life

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Gary Hammontree ENG 104 M. Williams Argument Analysis 11/15/2004 Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life Mr. Koch's essay in defense of capital punishment starts with the statements made by two death row inmates at the time of their executions. Both men made statements that killing is wrong and that in turn, the state is wrong in putting them to death. These men were convicted of murdering and or raping at least six people. Mr. Koch expresses that life is indeed precious and that if the death penalty were a perceived possibility in the minds of these men it might have acted as a deterrent. That sentiment may or not be true. In our past, there were more capital offenses on the books. Rape was at one time a capital offense. Rape a woman and die. Oddly, there was a significantly lower incidence of rape forty or fifty years ago. The random snatching, assault, rape, and or murder of a woman were an isolated event, something that we did not hear of on a daily basis. ...read more.


2. No other democracy uses the death penalty. Simply put Mayor Koch points out that no other democracy has anywhere near the incidence of violent crime and murder rates that the United States possesses. There are more murders in Los Angeles in one year that some countries experience in a single year. If other countries had the equal rate of murders, the outcry for capital punishment would be as loud as or louder than it is here. 3. An innocent person might be executed by mistake. Mayor Koch's position here is that although there is the remote possibility that such an event could occur, the likelihood is infinitely small and that we should not toss aside this form of punishment and deterrent, such as it is, because the penalty and deterrent is the only defense that we have to stem the epidemic violence. 4. Capital punishment cheapens the value of human life. Mayor Koch's answer to this argument is simply that the severity of the punishment in fact affirms the value of life in that such a severe penalty is extracted. ...read more.


As Mayor Koch says in conclusion, the death of anyone - even a convicted killer diminishes us all. However, even worse would be a nation that allows the crime of murder to go unpunished. There are consequences for everything we do in life. There should certainly be consequences for the criminal taking of a life and they should be severe, otherwise there is no consequence and certainly no deterrent. Mayor Koch uses a fallacious argument in defending capital punishment as necessary after condemning killing in general. He attempts to make the case that killing as punishment is valid while killing because of a crime, or in a fit or anger, or even as a pastime, is wrong. There is an argument to be made for capital punishment, but we should, at the same time be prepared to admit that killing is in the final analysis wrong. As a punishment, the death penalty may be needed in today's world, but we should still accept that it is at best unavoidable and is still wrong in and of itself. 1 Hammontree ...read more.

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