Death And Justice : How Capital Punishment Affirms Life

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In 2011 I was watching TV when I heard it announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I observed thousands of Americans celebrating with chants, fireworks, tears, hugs, and smiles. I heard a speech by the Mayor of New York. He stated that this killing was a victory and would finally bring peace to all of the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the attacks on 9/11. This idea, that the death of a murderer brings peace to the victim’s family and friends, was not only accepted but trusted that day. This idea isn’t always accepted when a murderer is sentenced to the death penalty in a court of law in the United States. In “Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life”, Mayor Ed Koch argues that the death penalty strengthens the value of human life through focus on the importance of justice as well as focus on the victim and their families. Rather than focusing on the lives that were legally ended, Koch turns the focus onto the lives lost illegally and their families and friends. He explains that if the government lowered the punishment for murderers, it would send the message to the victim as well as their family that the victim’s death is not as big of a deal. He relates this to rape victims by saying, “If the penalty for rape were lowered, clearly it would signal a lessened regard for the victim’s suffering, humiliation, and personal integrity” (Koch 486). It would seem as if the government has a decreased sense of sympathy. 2
“The Death
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