It is no triumph that death sentences are routinely carried out, or even that such a device is necessary within our society. Yet the fact remains that society does require a death penalty, and to believe that the topic is one-sided or easily answered would be a fatal mistake. It is best to note the absolutes of the death penalty – first, that once it is carried out, there is no reversing the outcome. It seems an obvious point, but it is worth remembering, as it warns us that state-sanctioned executions must never be taken lightly.
Just as firm is the fact that in most cases, the death penalty is a matter of justice and equality. With most crimes, the purposes of the punishment are to rehabilitate the convict and to send a warning to others who would commit similar crimes. In contrast, the death penalty intends neither to rehabilitate nor dissuade others from capital crimes.
Certainly, the threat of the ultimate penalty may give pause to a small percentage, but most capital cases involve a defendant who is far from rational enough to weigh the costs and benefits of his action.
Still, this misconception of the death penalty as a deterrent is one limp argument constantly trotted out against capital punishment. Many people ask, “If the death penalty is working, why isn’t the murder rate falling?”
The answer is that the death penalty is a matter of justice and societal preservation. Some crimes so abhorrent, the convict does not deserve to continue living. We do not live completely in the days of Hammurabi’s “eye for an eye,” but neither have we come close to a crime-free utopia which would allow the end of the death penalty. Instead, we compromise, reserving execution for the m…
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…ild, or a merciless killer? Speaking relatively, of which the secular left is so fond, those right-wing zealots do seem to have reason and logic on their side. The fetal child we know is innocent; conversely, we can be certain that death row convicts have done something to get themselves into their current situation. Therefore, if someone has to die, it would seem that we would choose the guiltiest person.
While no advocate of the death penalty enjoys the idea or triumphs in the latest execution, simply shrugging at the horror of some crimes makes a mockery of equal protection under the law, and more importantly, the primacy of justice within our community. The death penalty enjoys such strong support – 66 percent even after the recent stumbles in some states (www.gallup.com/poll/indicators/inddeath_pen.asp) – because most people recognize its important role.
The Ethics of Killing an Intelligent Species
Waves of excitement roll through the arena as walls of water pound the splash zone. The entertainers flip and dive in response to the cheers of the crowd. Initially, the dolphins’ smile appears to reflect the mood of the audience, when in reality, the fixated expression protects a multi-million dollar industry. The T.V. show Flippersparked a phenomenon as dolphins became in demand for entertainment, however, their world is not one of enjoyment. Humans are not the only species capable of deception, and the dolphins’ facial facade hides the turmoil within.
Amusement parks that showcase dolphins as toys for our amusement exploit the animals to the point that their physical and mental health is compromised. Dolphins are acoustic animals. They rely heavily on their ability to hear and have highly adapted sonar, so much so that dolphins can literally see your heartbeat underwater (The Cove). In fact, a large part of their brain is dedicated to the detection, interpretation, and production of sound (Bearzi 141). So when they are packed into an arena with thousands of screaming spectators, dolphins experience sensory overload. Stress caused by their environment causes ulcers and can kill them. Dolphins experience suicidal tendencies when under pressure; each of their breaths is conscious, so eventually they just stop trying to breathe. One of their brains’ greatest ability, their advanced sonar, is often the cause of their demise. This is true not only in captivity.
The dolphin entertainment industry created the initial demand for dolphins and currently drives the dolphin hunting industry. Japan alone catches, consumes, and exports the largest amount of dolphins; the small coast town Taiji specifically, is the largest supp…
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…in pediatric and adolescent health care 40(8) (2010): 186-215. WorldCat. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.
4. “Dr Jane Goodall DBE.” The Jane Goodall Institute. The Jane Goodall Institute, 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
5. Herzing, Denise L. “SETI meets a social intelligence: Dolphins as a model for real-time interaction and communication with sentient species.” Acta Astronautica 67.11-67.12 (2010):1451-1454. WorldCat. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
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7. The Cove. Dir. Louie Psihoyos. Prod. Paula DuPre Pesman and Fisher Stevens. Roadside Attractions, 2009. Film.
8. Wallace, David Foster. “Consider the Lobster.” Other Words A Writer’s Reader. Ed. David Fleming. Dubuque: Kendall Hunt, 2009. 301-314. Print.
9. White, Thomas. In Defense of Dolphins: the New Moral Frontier. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub 2007. Print