Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Death Tax (In Which I Try to Deconstruct a Real Political Issue!)

According to today’s Los Angeles Times, “High Court Finds Lethal Injection Humane.” So what? Why were we debating it in the first place? Arguably, what’s more inhumane than the tragic inevitability to capital punishment is allowing the society they’ve wronged to fund their lives -- because that’s what we’re doing, you know. While these “high courts” debated the fates of these murderers and rapists, we picked up the tab for their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, not to mention the electricity and water bills for those horrid prison facilities, the rooms in which, while cramped, would probably go for several hundred dollars’ rent here in Southern California.

Before I continue, I should note that I’m not trying to promote a specific political agenda. I’m not embracing either end of the polarized spectrum. Instead, I’m really just trying to think of people. Think about it: a guy murders your family. You have the means to see the same thing happen to him, and, though that sounds like revenge, you’re also grateful that no fellow human being will have to endure the same pain -- at least not by that guy’s hand. Suddenly, I step in and insist to house him, to pay for his meals, even to give him access to television and fitness equipment. If it was your family on the slab, would you care about whether or not their killer’s father beat him as a child? Would you care about whom he wanted to win American Idol -- because he gets to watch it every week?

The real solution is the federally sanctioned approval of DNA collection and storage. Now, before you call me Big Brother, hear me out: one of capital punishment’s biggest detractors is its possibility of needlessly killing an innocent man. If a case had airtight DNA evidence to support a conviction, at least the potential for a death penalty sentence wouldn’t face that human rights obstacle. Yes, I would rather voluntarily offer a cotton swab of spit than face the perpetual risk of death by needle in prison. That’s just me.

I’d be interested in knowing if the opponents to DNA collection and storage own a camera phone. The Big-Brother-Is-Watching scare holds little water when anyone can take a picture of your dog licking itself on a casual stroll around the block. In other words, if you like candid videos of dogs licking themselves in public, you cannot oppose mandatory DNA swabs, which in turn would save innocent lives. You won’t see that on the cover of the Los Angeles Times.

Presenting this argument on the heels of Tax Day is no accident. That chunk of change yanked out of your paycheck every other week is somehow connected to every issue that makes these nationally relevant headlines, from the provision of adequate police and fire department services to the grant-funded abortion clinic around the corner to the very churches Senator Obama claims folks flock to when all else in life has failed them. Your tax dollars paid for then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia trip, and thankfully Marty McFly was able to destroy the almanac and alter history before the snipers had a shot at her. (You know, that whole fib can be summed up in two words: street cred. Hillary wanted some.) Until we the people decide that our government should be as frugal with the money we give them as we are with the money we get to keep, we’ll forever be at the mercy of spectral good intentions. Because the funds for those all-important after school programs are right over the horizon, right?

I digress. I know, the Los Angeles Times wasn’t even talking about the death penalty, but lethal injection specifically. If we’re going to embrace the death penalty as an option, what’s a more humane way than that? Any consideration toward easing their passing from this mortal coil is good enough. Hey, if your lease is up, move out -- those cells are valuable real estate, and we have thousands of illegal immigrants to feed!

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