Considering the death penalty
What should the Ministry of Justice’s priorities be? Are homicides really sending Taiwan into a spiral? Homicides have steadily declined since 1995, contradicting Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu’s (曾勇夫) claim that violent crime is out of control because the death penalty is not used enough.
Tseng is a minister who gained his office not by being elected, but through patronage regardless of his qualifications. It is interesting that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that he respected the wishes of the ministry, but, it was Ma and his team that appointed Tseng. As a result, one needs to consider if Ma is respecting his own wishes.
Tseng ignored his own ministry’s statistics in regards to violent crime. It is assaults, not homicides that continue to have a high rate of occurrence. Tseng has said nothing about this trend. Instead he uses especially vicious homicides, the ministry’s commissioned poll and East Asia’s acceptance of capital punishment to make his claims. Is he suggesting a cultural trait? What about East Asian attitudes towards authoritarianism while Ma totes Taiwan’s model of democracy?
White-collar crime speaks for itself as each category has seen a steady rise in occurence. Is this an important area that the ministry should be investing substantial resources in?
It is interesting that Tseng was unwilling to publicly declare when Taiwan was going to put these criminals to death. Why no date? Why vague messages? The obvious reason is that we did so to prevent any objection to what he wanted to do. He wanted to kill in the name of others’ pain and suffering. Tseng is a public official who is uninterested in engaging the public. Why would a public official pussy foot around for days before acting?
This is not to say Taiwanese are not in support of capital punishment, but one should also note the majority of Taiwanese are also in support of maintaining the “status quo” with China. Such a stance is obviously not in the interest of the Ma administration. Is this hypocrisy?
I would like to offer some information to help people make up their minds about the death penalty. Religion and law came about because societies realized that revenge breeds more revenge in an ever increasing feedback loop. Courts were set up so wise people who were not emotionaly involved with a case could act in the best interests of both parties. It is understandable that people might think that if somebody was a lethal threat to others in society, killing them would solve the problem.
That was acceptable in the infancy of our cultures, but is it really the most intelligent thing we can think of now? Arguments about the death penalty being a deterrent contradict themselves when you look inside US prisons, which are a national disgrace.
Clearly, the death penalty does not stop people from committing murder.
Let us go back to basic principles and see how people work. We are still animals that respond to chemical drivers we call hormones. People are driven to copy and conform to other people, which is the reason why cultures develop in the first place, and also the reason people copy and conform to “Gangnam style” or copycat school shootings.
Everything you do is an example to others, 100 percent. The people we admire most on the Earth are the ones who are best at controlling their chemical responses, they set the best example for the rest of us. The example Taiwan is about to give to the rest of the world is: “The most intelligent thing we can think of now is to put a bullet into someone’s head, it is the best we can do.”
All academic thought can come up with to respond to crime is doing the same thing as the criminals themselves.
Criminals are products of societies. To prove that here is an example: If a country has a crime rate of 11 percent and nothing changes in the country, the crime rate is always the same year after year, it does not go up to 50 percent then drop to 3 percent the next year. You do not know who is going to commit the crime but you do know it will happen with uncanny accuracy.
The whole universe operates on this principle of uncertainty creating certainty, of which quantum mechanics and solar systems are good examples.
Norway recently set an excellent example for the world with the trial of Anders Brevic. We saw restraint, intelligence and dignity.
You will be judged by your actions, so make sure the point you want to make is the right one. All the would-be killers in your culture will see that if you really believe you are justified in putting a bullet in someone’s head, it is OK for them to do it. It is a sign of revenge, but surely not intelligence.
I have no sympathy for the criminals, but this letter is not about the actions of criminals, instead it highlights the importance of highly educated, civilized people setting good examples.