The PJ Tatler

Thinking a Second Time About the Death Penalty

In his syndicated column yesterday Dennis Prager hit one of his favorite topics, the death penalty:

As dark as thoughts of one’s own murder may be, we all think about it. And I don’t think I speak only for myself in saying that I would rest just a tiny bit easier knowing that if I were murdered, my murderer might not be allowed to watch TV, read books, exercise, develop relationships with people inside and outside of prison, surf the Internet, sing, listen to music, have his health-care needs addressed, and be visited by loved ones — while I lay in my grave.

In my evolution from college Chomskyite Democrat to adult Tea Partier most of my political positions changed. Others merely shifted justifications.

I’m still not comfortable with the state executing people — even though Dennis and my tough-on-crime friends make sensible, moral arguments. And here’s why: I have a different plan for my potential murderer.

Dennis recognizes the injustice of the victim lying in the ground while his killer lives with greater luxuries than both may have known in life. But out of all destruction lies the potential for creation.

I want my murderer to live comfortably and safe in prison. He needs to if he’s to have a chance of embracing some form of prison Christianity.

I want my murderer to come to feel the weight of his crime, for the darkness of his sinful nature and the evil of his act to crush him, allowing a new person to rise from the shards of his cracked soul. That may not happen — in fact it probably won’t — but the potential is enough.

Prison is a vicious place — and if my murderer can become a divine light within it advocating for love, forgiveness, and ethical monotheism then all the better.

So put me down for a green sticker, Dennis:

In order to make this as clear as possible, here is my proposal: Americans should be able to declare what they want the state to do on their behalf if they are murdered. Those who wish the state to keep their murderer alive for all his natural years should wear, let us say, a green bracelet and/or place a green dot on their driver’s license or license plate. And those who want their convicted murderer put to death can wear a red bracelet and/or have a red dot on their license. Just as I have a pink “donor” circle on my driver’s license signifying that, in case I die, I wish to provide my organs to help keep some other person alive, so I wish to make it known that if I am murdered, I do not want my murderer kept alive a day longer than legally necessary.