Capital Punishment: Solving Murder With Murder

In the year of 2018, 2,738 people were killed by the death penalty marked by July 1st. Majority of the executions since 1976 have been primarily white defendants with a number of 55.7% amongst another race. In our country the death penalty was set in motion by 30 states by October 11th, 2018; having Texas leading with a total of 560 executions by 2019. In a world where we completely ban murder from even happening in the first place, we set laws to prevent events like bloodshed from occurring. What happens when we break these laws? The defendant goes to court and gets that chance to up hold his rights and fight or a chance to bail, but with murder it is a different story. It is common that those who commit murder end up either going to jail for a long period of time or receive capital punishment. Capital punishment is a death penalty taking away the right of an individual’s life, however it is an inhumane sentence. In other words, we are solving murder with murder. In the short Harrison Bergeron takes us through how the government has an unfair justice system for our guilty killers. It is immoral to take away one’s life under the righteousness of god and our Bill of Rights.

In the story “Harrison Bergeron” the author Kurt Vonnegut illustrates how society believes in a system where those who commit murder should be killed as well. The audience in the story represent the states that support capital punishment, and the Handicap General (Diana Moon Glampers) is the murder weapon ending the defendant’s life. Harrison Bergeron and the empress models as society’s killers on death row waiting to be killed by the state. “She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor” (“Making Literature Matter” 1391). As the state they are responsible for protecting the rights of the citizens no matter what crime has been attempted. Killing those who have committed such horrific crimes make us just as guilty as them; murder is murder and that should be final.

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Here in the United States our country has these set of laws that help and prevent people’s rights getting stripped away from them. These are known as our Bill of Rights. In our Bill of Rights, we have twenty-seven amendments that help balance out America’s conflicts within itself. In “The First Ten Amendments-The Bill of Rights” it quotes from the bill, “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” (16). In this amendment we are prohibited to undertake any cruel acts to not only protect ourselves but also our offenders. When does it make it right for the state to rule over the Bill and call it justice? “He tried to think a little about the ballerinas [The Offender]. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else [The State] would’ve been,” (“Making Literature Matter” 1387). If we find those guilty of committing a capital offense, the state is just as guilty enforcing this death penalty. We cannot call murder justice; the state is in the wrong for violating the Bill to end a human life. The Bill of Rights is set to protect not only citizens of the United States but also our law breakers.

In our country, we have laws known as capital offenses that are considered horrific acts such as murder that will normally result in a lifetime sentence. Examples of capital offenses are genocide, rape, treason, terrorist acts, any type of murder, etc. In various states there are different types of ways to end the life of a criminal. There is the firing squad, where multiple people will end a person’s life by firing live rounds into the offender. Second would have to be lethal gas, where one is forced to breath in toxic air. The third would be the electrocution chair, where one would be fried to death. Finally, the last would have to be lethal injection, a shot is inserted into the criminal and killed. The lethal gas, firing squad, and electrocution chair is all forms of torture. Torture is universally defined as, the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment. “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms…reflected in our criminal law, for example, 18 U.S.C. §§2340-2340A [Murder involving Torture]; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture,” (Crook). The state would not only be taking away the offender’s rights, they would also be breaking the law in order to accomplish their goal. Torture falls on the line of a capital offense and the state should not be able to ignore the law for the death penalty. “Even as I stand here… crippled, hobbled, sickened-[all signs of torture]” (“Making Literature Matter” 1390). We enforce these laws to ensure that the state will not carry out these ruthless acts.

In a review that presented the pros and cons a question was asked “Should capital punishment be abolished in the United States?” In the recent reviews the cons that were demonstrated based itself primarily around vengeance and it being expensive to keep the criminal alive. Kent Scheidegger states “…capital cases have nothing to do with questions of actual guilt or innocence. It is the choice of sentence for a clearly guilty murderer,” (“CQ Researcher”). Scheidegger claims that all murder should be punishable by the act and not their reasons. There is zero justification that murder should be punished, the matter is that, “The death penalty divides the community by distinguishing between “worthy” and “unworthy” (“CQ Researcher). The state would rather “throw away” a criminal rather than investing time to forge them into a better person. Treating criminals like animals and not understanding their reasons makes the state look like they are in the wrong for not justifying life.

In a study called “God’s Justice and Ours” it acknowledges that the majority of our states will rather go against God’s will in order to keep a balanced-out community. The United States upholds a lot of rights to maintain harmony through God and themselves to carry out the constitution. “In God we trust” on our coins, “one nation, under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance, the opening of sessions of our legislatures with a prayer…” (Paragraph 18). The United States is making their own system of “Eye for an Eye” where one should receive the same equal punishment. However, we are not putting all our trust into god if this is the case. The state is ignoring all of God’s will and reinforcing it for their own interest. The death penalty is an unfair treatment where it results in only mankind’s leisure occupation.

In 1946, a young man by the name of Willie Francis suffered injuries do to a malfunction in the electrocution chair on the day of his execution. Justice Hugo L. Black stated, “…he argued for incorporation of the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy and Eighth Amendment’s cruel-and-unusual-punishment provisions by the Fourteenth Amendment, condemning “a mystic natural law which is above and beyond the Constitution,” (qtd. in Black 56). Hugo explains that in the fifth amendment no one shall ever go through a life threatening moment twice. The punishment also enacted another problem in which it can viewed as torture breaking the 5th amendment. Willie Francis was back at court which took a year long to resolve the punishment. After failing his case to the supreme court, he was once again sentenced to death a year later on May 9th, 1947 by the modified electric chair.

A story known as “The Man In The Well” by Ira Sher, a man is left in the well by a group a kids until the day it rained, assuming he drowned or swam out. In the story it says “… watching us run as his calling grew louder and wilder, until finally she ran, too, and then we were all far away” (Sher). The state are the children in the story, where the well is the representation of execution; leaving “The Man” as the offender. The state “ran away” from the issue rather than figuring out a better solution to the problem. By running away from the issue the state is killing off the offenders and not helping them out of the well.

In a Ted Talk discussion David R. Dow explains the number of executions in that last 15 years stayed high versus the decline in death sentences. In the last 25 years in sentencing of all death row inmates, lawyers have started to realize that if you start early in the process of a death penalty case, you have more chances to save the client. Why is that it took 25 years for people in the united states to realize if you don’t act on a case early the chances of execution remain high? Dow states that “…people on death row did not have a right to a lawyer” (Dow). It wasn’t until the 1980’s where one could acquire a lawyer later in their case increasing their chances in survival. The justice system made it unfair for those committing crimes to resolve their issue; forcing them into a hole. According to David, he believed there is four stages of a trail of death sentencing. The first stage would be known to where the murder takes place, a trial and sentencing is held, and a direct appeal is proposed. The second is where legal processing occurs, and state habeas is set. Third, federal habeas is set and more legal proceeding. Finally, the fourth stage no matter what happens weather they have a lawyer or not; it will always result in an execution.

As far as it goes, we have an average of 24 people on death row towards the end of 2019. The state is guilty of their own convictions and laws that they have set up for themselves. If everyone is created equal and no one has higher power than the other, we should not be able to end a man’s life. Solving murder with murder will never resolve the problem of vengeance.

Soldier’s Mental Health In All Quiet On The Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel written by Erich Maria Remarque, and this book is based on the setting of World War 1. It explores the perspective of a German soldier named Paul Baumer going through his experience of being in the war and giving the readers the lens about the reality of war. The book also focuses on the soldiers’ feelings on the detachment from the civilian life they felt when returning home from the front. Also explores the disorder called PTSD “Post-traumatic stress disorder” and it is ubiquitous for soldiers. It is a disorder that happens when soldiers experience intimidating events that remain in them for extended periods. The symptoms for this disorder are emotional detachment, depression, and irritability. Remarque uses sensory imagery of sight and sound to display the theme of how the trauma of war make a significant impact on the soldier’s mental health in the form of vivid description to demonstrate how soldiers experience mental changes with the signs of PTSD and a mental change that causes them to act like a beast.

To begin with, Remarque uses sensory imagery of sight and sound to display how soldiers are mentally affected by the symptoms of PTSD of emotional detachment and irritability against something as they witness the real effects of war. When Paul and his comrades are at the front, he sees how Haie Westhus who is one of the comrades and describe how he was suffering from the wound he got from the war. Paul relates to the incident by explaining, “We see men living with their skulls blown upon; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps into the next shell-hole; a lance-corporal crawls a mile and half on his hands dragging his smashed knee after him; another goes to the dressing station and over his clasped hands bulge his intestines…” (Remarque 134). Soldier mentally feels the trauma after seeing the reality of war as described, “ men living with their skulls blown upon.” Soldiers feel mentally suffocated as they witnessed soldiers got a physical injury as described, “we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps into the next shell-hole,” demonstrating how traumatizing and deadly the war life is. Soldiers cannot become emotionally involved with each of their fellow soldiers. As they face the horrible atrocities, they cannot engage in any emotional connections because many soldiers go through the phase of having physical pain from the wound they got from fighting in the war. As they start to think about them, it will eventually lead them to insanity. It is a symptom of PTSD causing the soldiers to have emotional detachment. Moreover, Remarque uses sensory imagery of sound to display how soldiers experience PTSD. Paul starts describing his perspective of him being at the bombardment and how he heard the sounds of shell shocks hitting the ground and after it lessens. They hear the shrieking of horses crying. He describes it with, “ We can bear anything. However, now the sweat breaks out on us. We must get up and run no matter where, but where these cries can no longer be heard”(Remarque 63-64). Remarque uses imagery of sounds to illustrate how the soldiers were mentally affected by letting the readers explore the reality of war through the perspective of Paul. It clearly shows how the soldiers were mentally impacted by hearing the cries of the horses which caused them to be paranoid. It is a side effect of PTSD as it caused the soldiers to feel irritated. Soldiers were traumatized by the, “cries” since they could not bear it because of how torturous it to hear which made them run away from the trenches. Remarque uses imagery to give the readers a perspective of how war life is not something that is glorifying except it is a burden that makes the soldiers die for their country due to the terrible atrocities faced by them which caused them to feel distanced away from their normal life.

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Furthermore, Remarque uses the sensory imagery of sight to display how Paul suffers PTSD through the symptom of depression and a mental change that causes the soldiers to act like a beast. As he returns to home from the front, he regrets going back to the war and reflects on the trauma that he re-experienced by seeing the books at the stand. Paul states, “ The backs of the books stand in rows. ‘I know them all still, I remember arranging them in order. I implore them with my eyes: Speak to me —take me, Life of my Youth… Images float through my mind, but they do not grip me, they are mere shadows and memories.’ Nothing— Nothing” (Remarque 172). Remarque uses the imagery of sight as described, “the backs of the books stand in rows” to display how Paul was looking through his books for the good memories he had during his childhood to evoke away the trauma he suffered through the war. Remarque uses the phrase, “mere shadows and memories” to hint how the horrors of war made Paul be mentally affected as he sees his childhood photos he cannot experience any positive emotions as he only thinks about the memories of war causing him to feel depressed. It is a symptom of PTSD because Paul is re-experiencing the terrible atrocities he witnessed at the front which makes him feel more depressed to the stage where he cannot recollect any good memories.

The word, “Nothing” is used to hint the readers how mentally Paul was affected causing him to lose hope because he has realized that he can never be able to have a normal life. It is evident because Remarque uses imagery of sight to the senses of the readers by bringing them into Paul’s mind and witnessing the trauma he goes through. In addition, Remarque uses the imagery of sight to illustrate how the horrors of war can cause soldiers to mentally change as they go to fight against their enemy at the front. Paul observes the incident as him, and his comrades are on a mission to lay the barbed wire, Paul describes, “ By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness… We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers—we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals” (Remarque 56). Remarque uses sensory imagery of sight to illustrate how the war made the soldiers to be dehumanized and mentally affected as described, “By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected.” Remarque uses the phrase, “We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers and become on the instant human animals” which hints the readers that the soldiers cease to become men, but as they go into the front, their animal instinct is turned on and becomes a beast illustrating how the trauma of the war made the soldiers act differently. The imagery of sight is applied to give the readers the lens of the reality of war through the perspective of Paul causing the soldiers to be mentally trained like a robot that is programmed to kill their opponents. It is evident because the horrors of war are making the soldiers feel different and not the person who they were before as they joined to fight in the war.

In conclusion, Remarque uses the vivid description in the form of imagery to display the trauma of soldiers went through by facing the horrible atrocities that happened in the war leaving them with a big mental scar in their life which reflected heavily on their mental health. It is impossible for soldiers to leave the war unscathed even if they don’t suffer from any psychological effects. The soldiers who survived are most likely to suffer from the trauma than the soldiers who lost their lives on the battlefield. Still today many soldiers who are in the war still suffer the mental effects and the symptoms of PTSD just like Paul did.

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