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The death penalty has faced much opposition as of late Can the death penalty possibly be a morally acceptable punishment A popular bumper sticker says We kill people to show people that killing people is wrong The slogan is short simple and to the point But is there really such irony in capital punishment as the slogan implies First of all the slogan misses an important point The death penalty does not punish people for killing but for murder Killing is justified when it is done in self-defense Killing means to cause death Murder on the other hand is defined as the unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another for the less observant this definition cannot be applied to the death penalty because the death penalty is lawful non-malicious and is not carried out by an individual but by the government Kill murder and execute are not interchangeable terms Death penalty opponents would like us to believe otherwise Just because two actions result in the same end does not make them morally equivalent If it were so legal incarceration would be equated with kidnapping lovemaking with rape self-defense with assault etc Therefore the slogan is better stated We execute people to show people that murder is wrong Not quite as catchy is it Morality is defined as the principles of right and wrong As moral creatures humans deserve praise for good deeds and punishment for bad ones Punishment may range from a slap on the wrist to death but the punishment must fit the crime This is known as lex talionis or in common jargon an eye for an eye Abolitionists often insist that if we argue for lex talion justice we must be prepared to rape rapists beat sadists and burn down the houses of arsonists Certainly this is the case if we take the lex talion literally and the criminals do deserve those punishments but we neednt take
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