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The Death Penalty vs the Right to Life

I’d like to have an honest discussion on a topic that struck me today in a different manner than it ever has.  The Death Penalty vs the Right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I should state that I have always been in favor of the death penalty.  Yes, I know there may be bad trials, biased juries, biased judges, crooked lawyers.  I know these things, and that gives me pause, yet when I see that all appeals have been exhausted, the death penalty is an acceptable way to remove the threat from society.  I am opposed to abortion on demand, yet feel there are cases in which it is the thing to do.  For me this is a moral quandry.  

But recently I have undergone a change in my thinking.  I’ve joined the Libertarian Party, and for the first time in my life I am trying to think through the “right to life” philosophy.  It sounds so simple, and maybe it is, but it isn’t for me.

Of course I don’t believe in murdering people.  Of course I don’t believe in reckless behavior that may cost someone his life.  But I’ve not had trouble accepting death sentences as proper punishment for heinous crimes committed.

To quote the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These are God-given rights, human rights given to all peoples.  No government has the right to grant or deny these rights.  This leads me to this quandry:  does the government have an actual right to execute people?  By doing so, is the government denying the right to life?  Does a criminal who has taken a life, retain the right to his own life?  Is this a case of 2 wrongs don’t make a right?  Or is it a case of 1 wrong can result in a right?  

I truly would appreciate some thoughtful commentary re this issue.  No hyperbole, please.  No insulting comments, please.  Let’s explore this issue, for MY benefit if for no one else’s.

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