I discuss the death penalty a lot with my students and the reactions are always so strong. Some out rightly support it and wished it would come back to the UK; they believe that there are some crimes that are so horrendous that they cannot be allowed to live. I get that. Shouldn’t society stand up and condemn certain actions explicitly using what could be the ultimate deterrent. We’ve even discussed how Christians often cite St Paul who claimed that it could be the best form of protection if the criminal could not be reformed.
However, there are always students who look puzzled at this and simply reply ‘How can we be punishing them for killing if we kill them’. It’s true society must stand as the model of righteousness, but surely it is more just to not go down that route. I tell students all the time not to ‘sink to their level’ and possibly the death penalty is an example of this. Society should be judged by how it treats it’s lowest citizens, so what would we be saying about us if we allowed it. These students always bring up Ian Brady being on hunger strike and how death can sometimes be an easy way out.
The Pope comes up with some interesting arguments and I’ll be interested to hear what my classes have to say about it. However (as I have done here hopefully) I will forever argue both sides just be annoying.