Death penalty = human sacrifice?

Do you think capital punishment is essentially a modern form of human sacrifice? I mean when you think about it the number of murderers that are put to death in the US is pretty token and arbitrary - only a very small percent of the people who actually kill are executed.

I feel like the existence of the death penalty has less to do with reducing crime and rather represents a ritual to make the general public, or at least people who support the death penalty, feel more satisfied with their own righteousness and lawfulness. The few people who are put to death are essentially bearing the brunt for the majority of killers who are only put in jail or get off the hook.

What do you think? Personally I think the death penalty is completely unnecessary, has a negligible if not nil deterrent effect, sends a bad message and even if I was in favor of it the chance of killing innocents would make me require such a high standard of proof that basically nobody would ever be put to death.


I think this is not quite right. Religious sacrifices, including the human ones, had cultist purposes. When we execute someone nowadays there is an element of vengeance and an element of civic necessity.

I think the vengeance element is unfortunate and there needs to be some press censorship here (no pictures of celebrating victim families, etc.), but there do exist crimes where there really is no alternative, and societies that refuse to see this undermine themselves.

I see where you’re coming from, in the case of the US. I wouldn’t say it’s truly human sacrifice, but I could live with the hyperbole.

I would dispute this. There are many societies that do not use capital punishment and yet suffer far fewer of what the US would consider capital crimes.

That is probably true mainly because of the prevalence of guns in the criminal classes in the states. Take away the guns and the comparisons of those who use capital punishment becomes more difficult.

Uh-oh. You’ve started something now…

Well let me just comment what I know about. They shoot murderers and gang kingpins here, and let me tell you except for authorities no one owns guns. I feel much safer than where murderers get released after a few years and much safer where people don’t have guns.

I doubt that I have “started something.” I am aware of the gun cult in the US and also know that it is just a vocal single-vote minority – illustrating one of the weaknesses (in this case a really bad weakness) of the American system. I have however no taste to argue it and if someone chooses to argue I will let others carry the ball.



Human sacrifice is a religious ritual to “appease the gods”, and it serves no other purpose.

The death penalty exists for justice, only. It absolutely prevents the criminal from transgressing the law again (sure, he could get life in prison, but he could potentially escape) and sends a message to other potential criminals not to break the law as this guy did. It’s not so effective in preventing droughts, earthquakes, or smallpox.

As long as they execute the right person.

I think your last paragraph may well be correct, but your second paragraph is not, and unless you can present any sort of argument or evidence for it, I’m going to reject it in favor of the simpler “We put people to death because we believe those particular people deserve to die.”

Yeah, “human sacrifice” entails appeasement of some supernatural force, to me. I’d say capital punishment might sate the bloodlust of the populace to a degree, but it’s mostly, in my husband’s words, “Some people are broken and need to be recycled.”

(Though personally I don’t see how it could be fairly implemented in practical terms, so I’m against actually using it.)

Nice to see that open minds, reasoned arguments, and considered responses are still prevalent on this board. :rolleyes:

I merely wanted to indicate that I disagree with everything in the OP. If he wanted a “reasoned argument,” he would have put this in GD.

And where, by the way, is your own “reasoned argument”? :dubious:

Just going by your name, the ‘buddha’ part specifically, the effects of ‘karma’ and the potential for reincarnation, the ‘criminal’ does have the opportunity to transgress again after the execution (and be more pi$$ed off), and the intent of the sentence pronounced against this criminal matters and if even in part intended as punishment or any to spread fear of the state (the sending a message part - that is spreading fear), does incur additional karmic penalties so the negative effect on humanity is increased.

So in the end, and the effects of karma as such, yes it may induce droughts, earthquakes or bedbugs.

According to whom?

I’m sure many traditions of human sacrifice were based on religion, but that does not mean we can not have a secular basis for them now.

You must throw some really wicked block parties. :cool:

Jeez, proto, it’s a bizarre idea but I don’t see much wrong about it. At the moment, I agree.