Capital Punishment: A Controversial Issue

Capital Punishment: A Controversial Issue

Why do so many people oppose the death penalty for racist murderer Dylann Roof?
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Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that the Charleston church shooter will be facing the death penalty in court. One year ago, Dylann Roof opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people, all African-American. This was a racially motivated hate crime, as Roof was known to tout white supremacist views and targeted a black church. However, despite the horrors of this crime, there are some people who contest the choice to seek capital punishment for this case.

The death penalty has been a highly contested issue for a long time. While some U.S. states have outlawed it, 31 states remain where capital punishment is still legal. The most infamous of these states is Texas, which has seen the most executions since 1976. Shockingly, the death penalty was also legal for those under 18 years old until Roper v. Simmons in 2005.

Supporters of capital punishment often praise its intended deterrent effects. While execution remains the possible consequence of terrible crimes like homicide, it should prevent people from committing murders in the first place. Many supporters of the death penalty also agree that execution is often the most appropriate punishment for those who commit heinous crimes.

Those who oppose the death penalty may do so for ethical reasons, but other reasons are also cited. For example, throughout history, the majority of those who are sentenced to death row have been non-white, mostly African-American. They are also overwhelmingly low-income. These racial and wealth disparities lead people to believe that capital punishment discriminates based on those factors, and indeed, many studies have been done with affirming results. Court cases such as McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) have even brought these disparities to the judicial arena in an attempt to have them considered, but to no avail.

Another major reason for opposing the death penalty is, of course, the possibility of innocence. The criminal justice system is not perfect, and there have been numerous instances where people are exonerated while on death row or even in the years following their execution.

Furthermore, while the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the death penalty is not considered to be cruel and unusual punishment, many people will argue that it does in fact violate the Eighth Amendment. The morality of different execution methods such as lethal injection, electrocution, hanging and even firing squad are often debated.

Around the world, capital punishment has even further implications as it is often the sentence for acts that should not be criminalized, like being gay. For reasons like this and the ones above, Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. In addition, over 100 countries have abolished the death penalty.

The ethics of capital punishment is a complex issue, and will likely remain debatable for a while. When considering Dylann Roof, it can get even more confusing — he was clearly a racist murderer, so the arguments about racial disparities are not applicable to him. There is no chance that he will later be found to be innocent. So why shouldn't the punishment reserved for the most heinous crime be applied to him?

In a 2013 article opposing the death penalty for Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, Ian Millhiser and Zack Beauchamp argue, "The moment we say one victim, or set of victims, must be avenged by death, we lose the ability to consistently limit the death penalty’s application to rare cases — and the uncertainty and arbitrariness that plagues capital sentencing generally comes flooding back."

What do you think?

Cover Image Credit: Popular Resistance

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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