Measurements of Evil

This week, my older sister participated in a debate for her legal studies class, which largely circulated around capital punishment and whether or not it’s a good idea, and it became a little bit of a topic in our house. And I knew, even before the conversations began, that I was against it, that, for one reason or another, it was bad and immoral. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you why because the reason that I thought it was bad and immoral was that mum thought it was bad and immoral and I figured that if she was against something, chances were, so was I.

But conversations make you think about things, so this weekend, amongst the drama, and the gardening, and the abolishment of most of my debt to my parents, I had to think about death by justice. And I realized, as I dug up weeds and got mud all under my fingernails, that I’m not against capital punishment, I’m firmly indifferent to capital punishment.

What I’m against is when alive people get made dead.

Dying, dying happens all the time, death is just another event of life, and that’s fine, whatever, nature is doing its thing, I’m not worried about it. What’s worrying is when other people, people who will, probably in their own time, die, make decisions about when their peers get to stop being an alive person. When humans get to decide what is punishable by death, when humans get to decide what you have to do to die. And it’s completely apathetic; you can’t feel guilty for killing somebody like that, because you decide to do it, you have to think about it, it goes through process after process, it goes through person after person who think it’s okay because it’s embedded in justice.

And that’s the great lie here.

Justice, that justice will save us, that justice will bring victims some sort of closure, that killing people is justice, and eye for and eye and all that, that the world will be a better place without these people in it, but humans, humans don’t get to decide that, we don’t get to apply measurements of evil to our own species, we don’t get to point and yell, and make a point about danger to the community, about giving humanity a bad name, because humanity already has a bad name, what we, as people, are meant to do is try and prove it wrong.

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