4 Arguments Why Dylan Roof Should Not Die
Today, the racist and mentally disturbed individual named Dylan Roof was sentenced to death for the murder of 9 parishioners of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The church has issued a statement saying they do not wish the death penalty be the verdict, a powerful and beautiful reminder of the need for forgiveness and an example of practicing what you preach. There's no punishment that can be levied against Roof that will fit the crimes committed. That doesn't mean that death should be an option. There are fiscal and moral reasons why everyone should reject this verdict. The death penalty, while it may produce catharsis on Twitter, is not a reasonable verdict in our court system. Here are 4 arguments of seperate viewpoints that should help you come to the same conclusion.
- The fiscal conservative argument: It costs less money imprison someone for life than it does to put them on death row. The cost of appeals and followup, not to mention the amount of time spent by lawyers, policeman, judges, etc. is simply not worth it. Some may argue this process helps find those who are wrongly convicted. Their argument makes no sense because they should simply categorically reject the death penalty if they feel that innocent people are put to death by the state.
- The pro-life argument: if the accepted belief is that life is sacred and should not be enabled by the state, then there should be no death penalty. Abortion sanctions the destruction of a collection of cells at a specific point in time determined on the state level. The death penalty sanctions the destruction of a much larger collection of cells at a specific point in time determined on a state level. For my pro-life friends, I hope you agree. My pro-choice friends are off the hook with this one.
- The "justice" argument: I got into a huge argument with a professor of mine on the difference between "retribution" and "justice." His argument was justice was a new concept, separate from the retribution enshrined in Hammurabi's code, developed in Plato's Republic. My argument was justice is simply better marketing for majority-accepted morays of right and wrong, and legitimized aggressive actions against citizens if they were precipitated by socially unacceptable behavior. It was NYU, so naturally he told me I was wrong, provided no reason for why I was wrong, and told me we could finish the argument after class. If you are of the mindset that justice must be served, why should we put this asshole on solitary in majority-minority prisons until we murder him? He clearly has no remorse, hates minorities, and was motivated to start a race war with his actions. Let him rot amongst all the minorities we've locked up in our quest to purge the world of drugs and super predators. That would get you a bit more justice.
- The "humans are imperfect" argument: Clearly, we are. In this case, there is undeniable proof that Roof committed the racially motivated murders. There's no doubt he represents the worst aspects of humanity. But not every case is as clear cut, and many of the incentives built into our "justice" system drive us towards "guilty". But by cheering the death penalty in any case, we leave it as an acceptable option in the cases where it is not so clear. Researchers at University of Michigan Law School estimate that at least 343 people were wrongfully placed on death row since the 1970s. Moral of the story: this is not justice, it's framing someone of a crime and then murdering them for it.
It seems the only thing stopping Dylan Roof from being legally executed for his crimes is a mistrial or being beaten to death by his fellow prisoners who realize what a disgusting human being he is. For me, I'd rather see the latter.