The way I see it
LAST WEEK Christians around the world celebrated Good Friday, which commemorates the most famous death penalty in history - the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Last Friday it was also reported that a convicted killer in Iran was saved from public execution at the last possible moment, after the family of the victim decided to spare his life.
According to the ‘eye for an eye’ ruling of Qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the 17 year old victim's family were to take an active role in the punishment of their son's killer - it was expected that they would push away the chair on which he stood. Yet instead of sealing his fate, the victim's mother slapped the killer's face and then signalled her forgiveness. The victim's father then removed the noose.
When I read that story, it struck me how merciful and forgiving the parents of the 17-year-old victim had been, and what an incredible witness against the use of the death penalty this act was.
It's incredible to think that there are still places in the world where the death penalty is still used as a punishment of crime. It was abolished in Ireland in 1981, and throughout the world there are very few countries where the death penalty is still used anymore. In saying that however, there are still many places where it does exist, such as Iran and Iraq and places where life is that much different.
Known methods of execution include beheading in Saudi Arabia, electrocution and lethal injection in China, Vietnam and the United States, and several countries that use hanging and shooting.
There are no exact figures as to how many were killed last year in China because data on the use of the death penalty is considered a state secret, but available information indicates that China carried out more executions than the rest of the world combined.
There were no executions in Europe last year, and it's probably fair to say that most of us would think of the death penalty as somewhat barbaric in the mod- ern era. And yet, even in the United States, which most people would see as a progressive modern country, the death penalty still exists. There have been moves to abolish it in different states over the years, but it is still very much a current practice in this bastion of modern democracy.
There are of course those who would feel that the death penalty is a good thing, that it should be used for the most vile and gross crimes, and that the people who commit such terrible acts don't deserve to live - especially if they have taken lives themselves.
When a person rapes or kills, as punishment the government would feed, clothe, educate, medicate, entertain, and legally represent them for the rest of their life. Families of their victims would pay taxes, in part, to keep them comfortable and warm in winter, and cool in the summer.
It makes no sense when you put it like that. And yet if you place yourself in the position of the one who committed the crime, perhaps out of a moment of anger or jealousy or complete desperation, wouldn't you want a second chance?
If it were my family member that was the victim, and they'd been raped or murdered, I think I'd more than likely want to even the score and see them hanged or executed too. It's a very difficult predicament that we'd hope never to be in.