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Should Society Possess the License to Kill?

Society approves the death penalty by dehumanization through the objectification of the people on death row. This dehumanization allows for society to step back and objectify the people, thereby ‘giving the thumbs up’ to execute them…approving it. Thus, calling it as a tool of justice or rather calls it “justice is served”. However, the victims and society knowingly acknowledge the illogical fallacy of capital punishment: the person severing on death row killed another person to end up there, but they are to receive the same action they committed by the state and call it justice. To understand the notion of this thought of dehumanization resulting in the approval of the death penalty, one must understand the history of the death penalty, what is it in society, their company, how society influences the individual to approve the death penalty and its actual execution, how dehumanization is dangerous to use to justify goals, and finally the illogical fallacy to capital punishment.

During colonial times in America, the Europeans brought with them their notions of justice them including the idea of capital punishment. However, many more crimes were punishable in Early America such as in New York, hitting one’s parent was punishable by death. People recognize the nature of capital punishment and as a result, wanted reforms to take place. In 1794, the state of Pennsylvania stopped imposing the death penalty for all offenses except first-degree murder. This was the first of reforms that resulted in today’s modern death penalty. In modern times, one is able to gain the death punishment through first-degree murder, treason, and espionage. The federal court is able to execute someone if that person so happens to commit a federal crime such as treason. Other than federal crimes, the state has the power to execute a person. Also, the actual execution is now declared as ‘humane’ because it is not cruel or unusual punishment. For example, Colonial times executed through public hanging or public burning on the stake.

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Today America executes through lethal injection, the electric chair, and the rare fire assault team. Now it can be seen that society has incorporated the death penalty due to tradition and history, resulting in one of the reasons for approval of the death penalty. But one must see that reforms are taking place to achieve a goal, hopefully like many other societies, abolish the death penalty. What is meant by society are the individuals who make up the social organization of what is called civilization. Webster’s dictionary defines society as an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession. Also, it is meant as a voluntary association of individuals for common ends. The United States is a society that is recognized as a beacon of freedom, justice, and liberty. The collective body of educated and who have invested interest are the individuals who reflect the interests of the whole community to achieve notions of freedom, justice, and liberty.

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Many argue this is called the General Will by Rousseau’s Social Compact. He was a classical liberalist which of many of their ideas founded this country. Always leading toward justice, America approves of the death penalty because it is sought as means for justice. Thus it is included in its justice system. However, in 2000, 88 percent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. More than 109 countries abolished it. The USA does not look to kind of China’s, Iran’s, Saudi Arabia’ justice systems, but the USA shares the same light with them though. ( Do note, these nations are all societies. But the USA stands above them as symbols of freedom, justice, and liberty. Also note if society didn’t approve of the death penalty, then it will not be in the justice system. It is seen that society approves of its practice historically and modern times; going deeper, one then will see how individuals can approve it. This is done by the objectification of death row criminals.

Society dehumanizes the person on death row through media portrayal, propaganda, and crime description; advertise ‘they deserve it’ bandwagon, emphasis on the victim suffering and the consequences of the crime. Thus resulting in putting sympathy or mercy in the backburner to achieve ‘justice’. Let us take for example the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995. Ted Konvinzky and Timothy McVay killed a lot of innocent people trapped inside a building. Those people included mothers, fathers, children, and workers. During that time, people were shocked a terrorist act was domestic. The media label him a cold-blooded killer, evil man, and instrument of the devil. As a result, people wanted blood to avenge the deaths of so many and call it justice. During the trial, the evidence against him proves his guilt, and the decisions were made to execute Timothy McVay. If anyone in school argues he does not deserve what he got, will get a lot of slack for it due to the nature of the crime committed.

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There is a lack of emphasis on his humanity because the media such as CNN stressing the great travesty of the crime. With all these elements, McVay and Konvinzky have very few fans of them. Therefore objection towards the death penalty is unlikely. The society successfully made a man into just a label that is portrayed to the individual as a cold-blooded killer that deserves to die. The victims’ suffering and consequences result in a legacy of pain and enduring remembrance. There is no mention that he is still human. He is what he is, a label. It can be seen that this objectification results in sympathy toward humanity or life is gone and is replaced by notions of what is just when dealing with crimes such as the Oklahoma City Bombing. Dehumanization is very dangerous when used. For example, the South used verbal and physical abuse to convince slavery is morally okay. The word ‘nigger’ is an example of verbal abuse that is a type of dehumanization. The Nazis used dehumanization to gain supremacy and justify the Holocaust.

This can be recognized as evil when disproportionate power levels are present. This done through dehumanization; the same dehumanization states, society, and the nation use to justify capital punishment. One must apply universally the principle to see if it is morally sound. In the case of capital punishment, one must now question is justice truly being served, or it is just vengeance? Society uses the death penalty to convince people it is a tool of justice and to ease the pain of the suffering. But as seen in slavery and War World II dehumanization is in no one way to achieve justice. In no way is the death penalty then a tool of justice if it must use dehumanization to follow through itself. And this is a matter of fact, that society must dehumanize the person to carry out the death penalty. Is this justice? If a father beats his son because the son got in a fight, is the learning it is wrong to fight? Rather is he learning he is being disciplined because he got in trouble and not because he was fighting?

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Apply that same principle universally, specifically in the justice system. Then is can now be seen the illogic fallacy of the death penalty. Take the case and point: Mr. Laney kills Mr. Aiello. He is trial and finds guilty. He is to be executed. In reflection, the state kills Mr. Laney because he killed another human being. That is justice? Did not we evolve past the Hammurabi Code of Laws? In conclusion, dehumanization allows society to approve the death penalty. What is truly meant by approval is, it is easier to execute someone when the executors don’t have sympathy or mercy tied into the criminal’s life. By objectifying the criminals, their lives become less than human, and as result, the execution is carried out. But one must still recognize they are still human and all deserve life because it is a natural right that no human institution can give. Therefore no human institution can strip away that right because it is not engineered under human institution. It is an engineer by nature and only nature can take away that right. Finally, dehumanization is very dangerous when is used to justify actions. Evil is a label in slavery and Holocaust that use dehumanization to achieve their goals. Justice is not being served, rather vengeance is declared.

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Should Society Possess the License to Kill?. (2021, Mar 21). Retrieved June 24, 2022, from