0077 Oh Death
(audio player below article)
Oh Death, Oh Death
Won’t you spare me over till another year
But what is this that I can’t see
these ice cold hands take ahold of me
When God is gone and the Devil takes hold
who’ll have mercy upon my soul
Oh Death, Oh Death
No wealth no ruin no silver no gold
nothing satisfies me but your soul
Well I am Death none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa Death, someone would pray
could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed the preacher preached
time and mercy are out of your reach
I’ll fix your feet till you can’t walk
I’ll lock your jaw till you can’t talk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very air come and go with me
I am Death come to take your soul
I’ll leave your and leave it cold
I’ll draw your flesh up off your frame
Both dirt and worm will have their claim
Oh Death, Oh Death
My name is Death and the end is here
Your time is come, too late for fear
by Ben Stone
This is a topic I’ve avoided writing about since I completely changed my position in 2007. As a matter of fact, in the past I have only shared my opinion on this topic when directly asked by people whom I care about and respect. I could cut this article short by simply saying that I’m talking about capital punishment, but that’s only one aspect of this topic. What I’m really talking about is death itself and who has the right to decide on death.
It would be easy for me to say that when a person kills another person who is not an immediate threat to someone, it’s murder and it’s wrong. But I don’t believe that statement. This is the position of a lot of people in the liberty movement, but I have problems with it. Let me give some examples and work through some scenarios and we’ll see if I can present my opinion in a way that’s consistent with the Zero Aggression Principle, libertarian Property Rights, and the natural laws that are unique to our species.
The current system of “justice” in the United States of America is so twisted and out of balance that it only occasionally stumbles into a just conviction, however even when it does it lacks the capacity to understand or execute actual justice.
An example of “Justice” in the US.
Bill breaks into Jim’s house and in the course of robbing him Bill kills Jim. The police arrive to find Bill holding the murder weapon and as Jim dies, his last words to the police are, “Bill did this.” There is no question of guilt, however Bill refuses to accept a plea bargain and the case goes to trial. Jim’s widow and children await justice. A State attorney is assigned to Bill for his defense, and the trial begins. The prosecuting attorney presents his case including the testimony of the first responding cop who clearly recalls Jim’s last words. The defense attorney does his best with what he has to work with but finally the case goes to the jury to decide. They take a few minutes to review the case and find Bill guilty of murder and they suggest the death penalty. The judge gives Bill one last chance to come clean but Bill refuses to speak. The judge, seeing no other option, sentences Bill to death by lethal injection.
Who, hearing the above details, could say the State has no right to execute Bill?
I say the State has no right to execute Bill.
Actually I say the State is incapable of executing Bill. The State is not a person. Therefore the State was not harmed nor threatened by Bill so the State has no case against Bill. Additionally, the State has no physical body therefore it must hire an individual who is completely uninvolved with the case to do the actual killing of Bill. When this hired killer injects the lethal dose into Bill’s veins, he is as guilty of murder as was Bill. Actually his crime is worse since Bill is strapped to a table and can’t fight back. At least Jim was free to defend himself!
In addition to the above objection, consider that the testifying cop, the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, and the judge are all employed by the State, presenting a conflict of interest. And each of them makes their living by robbing the very people they claim to serve. As a matter of fact, if Jim had failed to pay his taxes and had chosen to defend his home against the theft of the State, there’s a good likelihood that same judge would send out the order for that same cop to enter Jim’s home and kill him if he resisted being abducted. So then how can the State judge Bill when the State regularly does the same thing Bill did?
Another thought to consider is the reality that Bill, once convicted and placed on “death row”, will sit there in prison year after year while the case is appealed over and over until perhaps 20 years or more go by. All the while the State will tax, not only Jim’s widow and children, but also uninvolved people around the country to support Bill and provide him with security, health care, and everything he needs to live comfortably until his eventual execution. And again, if some uninterested person objects to their taxes going to house, feed, care for, and protect scum like Bill year after year, and they attempt to protect their own property by resisting the theft of the State, the State will break into their house and kill them without any more hesitation or remorse than Bill expressed for his actions.
As for the surviving victims of Bill’s crime, justice cannot be obtained by the State’s killing of Bill. Justice can only be obtained when the vengeance of the victims is satisfied and they are repaid for their loss. The State provides no process for either. Also no one but the victims can determine what that vengeance should be and what it takes to repay their loss. Perhaps Jim’s widow sees no value in Bill’s death but needs a man to do the work Jim would have done if he were not killed. Or maybe Jim’s widow is of a religious nature so that she can forgive Bill. Or perhaps Jim’s children go to bed night after night filled with the terror that their father’s murderer is alive and well and could escape or be released at any time. Any honest person could hardly consider this situation an example of justice.
Look at it this way; what if you owned a very special picture of your grandmother that you had cherished for years. Then one night lightning struck a tree outside and caught the house on fire. You just escaped with your life and the whole house including the picture, was lost. If your insurance agent handed you a check for what they determined the value of the loss to be, could it ever take the place of your grandmother’s picture? What if it wasn’t her picture? What if you lost your grandmother in that fire? Would anything the insurance agent could do repay your loss? Of course not. There is no way to measure the loss of the picture and there is certainly no way to measure the loss of your dear loved one.
The same is the case with Jim’s widow and children. Only they can know the depth of their loss and only they can know what justice looks like. And if they feel the need for vengeance, only they can rightfully determine the level of vengeance. Make no mistake; I will not try to twist human nature into some false moral code where vengeance is frowned upon as backward or uncivilized. That is as much a lie of the State as the idea that the State can supply justice! (see The Morality of Revenge) If Jim’s widow wants Bill to die for his transgression she is morally justified in killing him in any manner she chooses, or if she chooses she is justified having a representative kill him, assuming her champion is doing so voluntarily. When Bill took the life of Jim, his life became the property of Jim’s heirs. Not as a slave, but as a payment for the life he took from them. This is the traditional position of most cultures where there was no State distortion of justice. It is the position most natural to our species. And if Jim’s widow takes mercy on Bill it is her right to do so and no representative of the State has the right to supersede her will.
Considering all of the above, the State is incapable of determining or handing out justice. It was neither threatened nor harmed by the actions of the murderer. And the State is openly guilty of the same crime the murderer committed, but many times over. Therefore the State has no right to kill anyone for a crime that took place between private individuals. And since the State is the single largest, most powerful criminal entity in existence, constantly committing aggressive acts of theft, violence, and murder, any act directed at the State is an act of self defense and is justified, however foolish it may be to fight the State. Therefore the State is not morally justified in killing even if the accused is committing an act directly against the State. And since the State lacks justification to kill, any person who kills on behalf of the State is guilty of murder.
Ah, but here may be a catch! The reader may be saying, “What about war? Isn’t war simply killing on behalf of the State? Surly you wouldn’t argue that killing during war is the same as killing at other times!”
I would argue that the vast majority of killing in times of war is simply murder, morally glazed over with the honey of State propaganda. The perpetrator may be brainwashed and therefore delusional as to the justifications of their actions, and this should be considered when judging them, but murder it remains. The exception would be when people are protecting themselves and their property from an invading or encroaching State. An example of this happened in November 1791 when US troops led by Arthur St. Clair, set out from modern day Cincinnati Ohio with the intent of destroying the city of Kekionga of the Miamis. The natives responded with an overwhelming defensive action that resulted in the worst defeat in the history of the US Army. Another example of a morally justified defensive act of war happened on King’s Mountain in North Carolina when British forces under Patrick Ferguson attempted to cut through Appalachia, looting as they went. State history books lie and say Ferguson was attacked by “Colonial Militia” when in fact the Appalachians that decimated Ferguson’s army were simply stateless peaceful people living their lives without taking a side in the war until they were aggressed upon.
Defensive action, whether by individuals or a group as in war, committed while protecting life, liberty, and property are entirely justified and morally acceptable and do not breach the Zero Aggression Principle. Additionally an act of vengeance up to but not exceeding damages done by an act of aggression does not violate the Zero Aggression Principle and is entirely consistent with natural law.
If everything I have said up to this point fails to convince you that capital punishment committed by a State is morally unjust, consider the practical argument. Can the entity that operates such institutional failures as the US Postal Service, the US Border Patrol, the Internal Revenue Service, The BATF, Housing and Urban Development, The US Department of Transportation, and oversees the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, be trusted with life or death when your son is on trial for a crime you believe he didn’t commit?