Dyllan Roof was sentenced to death in South Carolina this week. He murdered 9 people in a black church, and he explicitly stated that he was trying to incite a race war. The original prosecution witness list for the sentencing hearing was 49. That is 49 people whose lives are permanently altered through Roof’s actions. Roof showed absolutely no remorse throughout the trial. If ever there was someone who I would say deserves the death penalty, it is DYllan Roof.
I’ve been against the death penalty since I heard that the death penalty was a thing. When I was a child, my reasoning was simply “don’t kill people, because that’s mean”. I guess all those forced Sunday School classes DID have something going for them despite all the misogyny and homophobia. As I grew older, my disdain for the practice stayed, though I have seen plenty of examples of why the practice should be intact. Regardless, I am still staunchly against the death penalty, and it is not for the reasons most people think.
Some think that I am against it because there is a grotesque racial disparity in the seeking of the death penalty in capital crimes. Black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants. Not only that, the death penalty is more likely to be applied if the victim is white than if the victim is black. People of color are more likely to be given the death penalty if the victim is white, but white killers of people of color are not as likely to be given the death penalty. This is also one of the only times where a white woman victim would receive the maximum amount of justice, so long as the defendant is black. So there you go, white women: despite all those cases like Brock Turner’s, you CAN get justice!...You just have to die. At the hands of a black guy.
If racial disparity were the primary reason for my dislike of the death penalty, I would have to dislike the entire justice system, because since 1865, EVERYTHING was slanted racially. Legislators took ALL advantage of the loophole in the 13th Amendment. At first it was forced labor for minor infractions as little as not stepping off the path when a white person is walking to completely peerless “jury of peers” in ALL court cases to drug laws that criminalized both Latinos and blacks from the beginning to the end of the 20th Century...Ok, so I DO have a lot of disdain for the way the justice system has been working. When John RK Howard, after using a coat hanger to sodomize his disabled black co-player who he called “nigger” and “watermelon” and “chicken-eater”, is walking free with no sex or hate crime charge after a long trial, yet it only took 4 days to capture and charge the four black teens with hate crimes for kidnapping and torturing a disabled white teen, you are blind or ignorant if you don’t see the problem. Keep in mind, there were more people involved in Howard’s case. He was the only one charged, though. It makes me wish gamma rays really DID give you superpowers instead of terminal cancer. I would be permanently Hulked out. Still, This is only my secondary reason against the death penalty.
I’m against the death penalty because the justice system is run by humans, and humans are forever fallible, and often wrong. Even if the racial aspect of the system were completely eradicated, there is no guarantee that the people we find guilty actually are. Thanks to DNA evidence, we now know that the system gets it wrong a lot. What if New York State executed the Central Park Five? 30 years later, after finding out they never committed the crime of which they were accused, we wouldn’t be able to resurrect them. Would you go to the families and say, “Turns out your kids didn’t do anything. Oops, our bad! KTHXBAI! ^_^”. That is not good enough. Even if the family could sue, throwing money at the situation STILL doesn’t get their children back. I’d prefer that a mistake is made, and the system has a chance to apologize to the wronged person face-to-face as opposed to posthumously exonerating them.
Dyllan Roof, though, we KNOW that he did it. He documented his plans. He did not break from his testimony. He has no remorse, and he is proud of what he did, and he said as much. Roof is in a death penalty state, and he got the death penalty. I admit it; I smiled. He did his deed in a death penalty state. He cut off 9 people, including a state legislator, from living to their fullest potentials. He upturned an entire community, all to incite a race war. Now he is going to die for it. I don’t feel sorry for him in the least. However, this one case where the justice system worked precisely as we keep saying it does, doesn’t mean it’s “fixed”. It just means that we now know the justice system CAN work for everyone the way it should. This one case doesn’t negate all the times it has failed its citizens. Walter Scott’s killer is still on the loose, after all.
So Roof will die. I don’t feel sorry for him, but I still don’t like the capital punishment. Since it is happening anyway, perhaps there is a way to make him realize that he failed horribly. Because of what he did, the American Swastika is no longer flying on state grounds. Entire stores have refused to sell it. The city of Charleston has come together even more. The family of the victims didn’t seek vengeance on white people. They instead embraced their neighbors, and their neighbors returned the affection. Nothing he attempted to start came to fruition. A good punishment would be to sequester him in a cell with people of his ilk and stream nothing but all of the good news that has been happening. Feed nothing but all of the news of unity in Charleston. Give news of the first Somali-American Muslim US representative. Give only books about all of the black CEOs who are running large corporations. TV/Movie time should be Hidden Figures and Fences and Black-ish (They would likely masturbate to 12 Years a Slave and Roots). Show how terrible his life choices were and how much of a pathetic, insignificant waste of chromosomes he is until that needle breaks his skin and releases him from the knowledge. He’ll die knowing that he has done nothing.
But that would be “cruel and unusual”. Oh well.
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