In a story written by Stephen King called “Stand by me” he said: When people die we remember the past. It was November, 15 1959; a date to be forever remembered when two men, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, entered a home in Holcomb, Kansas aiming for a robbery which ended in a bloody massacre. Dick and Perry left the Clutter’s home with four lifeless bodies and on the run for their very lives. Dewey is a good man and “Like the majority of American law-enforcement officials, Dewey is certain that capital punishment is a deterrent to violent crime” (Capote 381).
Yet at the end, when all was said and done, he didn’t feel a release when he should have been. The case was closed and the people behind the blooded massacre received the full power of the American justice system. The surviving member of the Clutter didn’t even bother to come and watch the hanging. In the end he understood what it all has been: Revenge to two men who according to the jury deserved to die. In the book, Truman Capote explored capital punishment. One of the views shown was that of Dick’s wherein he stated that capital punishment is nothing but purely revenge.
People who have suffered a loss always say when asked to describe what they are going through, as an unbearable pain. Imagine what it would feel to suffer a loss from murder. Someone came and ended the life of a person dear to you. It is only natural to wish the same pain, if not more, to be suffered by the murderer. But why do we have laws? We created them so as to govern the people and keep them safe. If this is true, why is there such a law that destroys individuals it should protect? Criminals no matter how we look at them are human. When a man commits a murder we call him a monster.
Yet behind the blood they shed and names we attach to them such as butcher, killer, animal and devil incarnate we cannot hide the fact that their deed did not change them, turned them into something not human. Taking somebody’s life is a heinous act, no doubt about that. But it never means they should no longer be recipient of privileges we get from our laws. To kill in cold blood is a premeditated act. Meaning they have been considered, maybe even planned. A murder in cold blood is done neither to defend oneself nor an act of passion wherein the act is committed while fuelled by passions felt at the time.
No, a cold blooded crime is calculated. It is done wherein the murderer is thinking clearly without the influence of chemicals or drugs, knows what he is about to do and understands its consequences. When somebody is killed we remember the past so much that we see nothing else. We sentence somebody to death because he killed another individual. If every time somebody is murdered in cold blood and we catch the murderers, find them guilty and sentence them to death, what difference do we have from them?
Isn’t death by firing squad, hanging, electric chair and lethal injection a farce to hide a cold blooded murder? Do we not commit a cold blooded murder when we sentence somebody to death? In the end when the sentences are carried out, and the bodies march outside the death house; what do we get? Nothing. We just completed a ritual similar to the ones done by the “criminals” wherein life is taken away, only the ones we perform we call “humane” for they do not feel a thing. What does this get us? Is it a filling of fulfillment because the law is carried out?
Could it be a feeling of gladness because the street is now safer with one of them dead? Or maybe a sense of justice because we have done the just thing; followed a primitive rule wherein we take a life for a life taken? After watching the death of somebody who deserves to die what do we feel? What do we do? A lot of people have experienced a criminal condemned to death. Why, whenever it happens, an entire circus comes out. Lots of networks covering the event, people from all walks of life being interviewed and saying a piece of his mind… and then the death.
The minutes wherein people would sit in their homes waiting for news of what time the man died. And when we hear that he was pronounced dead what do we do next? We continue our life as if nothing happened. We forget that once we condemned the man and believed he deserves what he will get. Life goes on. As if nothing happened. A revenge. Only this time, an entire populace wants, even hungers the revenge. What a cold blooded murder.
Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York: Signet, 1965.