Wednesday, May 27, 2015

About my quarrel with the death penalty

Everytime a radical act of violence happens ( and by radical i mean perceived as provocative by the public opinion, and not as a quantitative measurement approach to violence) the voices rise to ask for the death penalty. 

I am really failing to understand the not-so newly emerging infatuation with the death penalty. Isn't it enough and telling that our prisons are mostly populated with drug users, migrants workers and refugees, given that none of the latter belong in prison - to begin with! While at the same time, the war criminals and the perpetrators of violence in all its forms are left to loiter freely among us? Isn't that an indication of the futile nature of the judicial system? 

But here here let me elucidate. 

My quarrel with the death penalty infatuation is not based on a humanistic argument that only refuses the death of any human being under any condition, but is much more complex. It is based on the perception of governance as hegemonic. 

First, why are we expecting justice from a state that has a legacy of violence itself - especially and structurally against women? A state that folded its bloody history under layers of systematic forgetting while all its protagonists still rule today? Can we bare in mind while "lobbying" for "justice" the fact that death and killing is not a far idea from our rulers who built their empires of governance on mass graves and weapon trade. So why do we expect them to be moved by the death of a woman, or two, or ten. By asking for death penalty you are just throwing the butchers in power in their comfort zone.

Second, if we want to open the door of the death penalty as society have previously opened the doors of prisons, who do you think will be killed? And if you want to apply the death penalty on one person, you will have to apply it on the many others that will follow - there are no exceptions in the rule of the law while it is used as the right hand of governance -  and the question is: who will be those who follow! Political prisoners i presume, and any body who can fit in the tailored category of an outlaw. And who decides who the outlaws are? The state, of course. So basically everytime you are asking for the death penalty - no matter how much you believe that a person should be prosecuted for the horrifying violent crime he did - you are putting the heads of those who are underprivileged on the ropes. The idea of dissection and delineation in the temporal modes of governance is impossible and is centered around the imagination of democracy as the "rule of the people" thus the masses decide the priorities, while we all know what a joke democracy have become. 

Third, the death penalty is newly historically banned in a lot of places around the world, but did it ever stop anyone from committing a crime before? did it ever succeed as a scarecrow for criminals? If it did, then how come there are still crimes? And this is just stating the obvious. 

Now i know the idea of applying the death penalty on a criminal who killed his wife is very tempting, and it tames a rage that is boiling deep in us. And i know that by state applying the death penalty on a man who killed his wife it is directly admitting that violence against women is no longer acceptable, but the consequences of such an act might me bigger than its achievements. It will open the door for the application of death penalty, and that by itself is a disaster in our context. The most dangerous part of lobbying and asking for the death penalty is that it ahistorizes our past experiences with justice as a protector of women from violence and any other marginalized category. Most importantly, it paves the way for  giving the state the power to protect, thus legitimizing its existence and permitting its usage of violence against anyone who it categorizes as an outlaw in the name of protection, mostly, leading all of those who object to the ropes. 

To state it bluntly, if the state permits the death penalty to a man who killed his wife, it won't be because the state or the judicial system believe that crimes against women are unacceptable, it will be its alibi to open the door for it to extend its ways of ruling to legalized killings of those it categorizes as outlaws. 

The sphere of politics is not flat, it acts in layers, and the rule of law embodies concealment as a tactic to provide the end product that is illustrated to us as justice, while it is blinds us away from the process in which such practices of justice takes place. These practices that are mostly oppressive towards us, and towards our everyday of resistance.  Outlawness is a category that is constantly in flux, it stretches it arms wide open and is ready to hug you at any given point. 


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