That's the title of Bill Federman's column in today's Albany Times-Union, in New York.
Why keep trying to execute criminals? Killing to exact revenge — which is what state-sponsored executions in effect do — is a sign of a morally and intellectually inferior society. A society that kills to punish crimes fails its citizens and itself and forfeits any claim to being truly civilized. Executions have nothing to do with justice and, more to the point, have no deterrent effect on criminal activity, which may be why the United States is one of the few countries in the world to carry them out.
Executing criminals is, in my mind, linked to the unfettered use and ownership of guns in that both are relics of a less-developed, less civilized time. As humans and societies evolve, responses to abnormal behavior — in the case of executions — and to changes in the definition of personal freedom for the common good — as in gun control — must also evolve. To willfully refuse to do so is a national disgrace.
I have a well-developed sense of vengeance, which I try to keep under control, and I haven't yet shed any tears over an execution for a brutal act of violence. But I try rise above my many baser instincts, especially in matters of life and death. It's a struggle that I believe will ultimately make me a better person.
It's no longer high noon in this country, there is no more frontier, and the concept of frontier justice died long ago. It's time to bury it and its attendant Wild West mentality.