I’d Rather Hang An Innocent Man
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling on capital punishment. Whether you agree or disagree with the Justices, the issue of capital punishment remains one of the most heated arguments of our time.
Last night, I got into a discussion with an elderly man about capital punishment. This man is a whole lot mmore dogmatic than I, but even so, I listened to him because, well, information is never a bad thing.
This gentleman said, “My father always said he’d rather be hung as an innocent man than as a guilty man.”
I wholeheartedly agreed! If I am innocent and I’m put to death, the only thing I really care about is my personal integrity. If the state decides to execute me and I’m innocent, well, that’s a tiny, tiny chink in the armor of the best system on earth (and yes, don’t even argue that America’s system of laws and law enforcement isn’t the best on earth) To me, all I want to know in this world is that I did what I think is right. I don’t stray from that for anything. It’s a personal thing-I can’t live with myself if I feel I’m living out of integrity. So, yes, I’d rather be hung as an innocent man with the knowledge I didn’t do anything wrong, rather than be hung as a guilty man knowing I DID do something wrong.
Thing is, that’s totally NOT the direction this guy was going!
His father meant he was happy to sacrafice his personal life if it meant America was still using the system of capital punishment. So, provided America always uses it’s ability to kill it’s own citizens, this man was happy to die and insure that right. Beg pardon? I’m not sure this really makes sense!
I’m not going to comment on the right or wrong of this argument, but in my mistaken translation of what he was talking about, it put another reinforcement into my own personal idea of integrity.
And yes, due to the fact I loathe myself if I did wrong, I’d rather be put to death as an innocent man.
For me, this just drives home the point Bill Shakespeare made a half millinieum ago:
To thine own self be true.