Letter to the Editor

Working together to find a way to make capital punishment 'safe and rare'

Sunday, December 19, 2010

To the Editor:

In Jenny Moore's Letter to the Editor on Dec. 13, she argues that the issue of abortion has become too political and that we should just end the abortion debate.

She builds her case by attempting to establish a moral equivalence between abortion and capital punishment.

She concludes by attacking abstinence-only education. There are many problems with Ms. Moore's argument.

Perhaps the most egregious error in her letter is the attempt to equate capital punishment with abortion. Here is what she said:

"In addition, too many people who on one hand campaign with right to life politicians see no problem with capital punishment. Killing is killing."

Indeed, killing is killing. I can't argue with that, but there certainly is a difference between the state executing a convicted criminal and someone killing a baby. The criminal is judged for his actions. The baby has done nothing wrong.

At this point, someone might object and say that abortion is not really killing, but in attempting to establish equivalence between abortion and capital punishment, Ms. Moore cedes the point.

While on the subject of capital punishment, Ms. Moore says:

"I've heard arguments about the sixth commandment only pertaining to the 'innocent' (though Christians believe all but Mary, the Immaculate Conception, are stained by Original Sin), and not the guilty but at the end of the day, only God has the right to take life away."

If the state does not have the right to take the life of a convicted criminal, why should a mother have the right to take the life of her unborn child? And why should this not be a matter of public debate? Instead of debating whether the state has the responsibility to protect the most defenseless among us, Ms. Moore would rather debate the merits of sex education.

OK, let's talk. A recent, well-reported study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that abstinence-only education is more effective than either a comprehensive curriculum, including abstinence and safe sex instruction, or safe sex instruction alone at delaying sex among youth.

Furthermore, none of the three methods studied increased consistent condom use. Ms. Moore states that there are myriad reasons why abortion thrives in this society and then singles out abstinence-only education. Cleary, the U of P study does not support this.

However, Ms. Moore may have a point about capital punishment. We should end all the debate about capital punishment. Make it a non-issue. After all, no debate ever prevented a death by capital punishment.

Instead, we should try to make capital punishment rare by preventing murder. We all know there are myriad causes of murder, but I think the problem lies in our abstinence-only approach to violence education.

Whatever your opinion about violence, many people will choose to be violent. It is human nature.

With the high murder rate in this country, it is obvious that just telling people to abstain from killing each other isn't working.

I propose that we teach "safe violence" in schools. Young people need better information about methods of violence that does not lead to death.

Let's work together to make capital punishment safe and rare.

David W. English,