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To Be or Not To Be

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, People & Culture
Title capital punishment

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After the British Parliament's e-petitions website went live they cannot ignore calls for the debate on the death penalty for child killers and on-duty police murders.  Any petition that gains more the 100,000 signatures from UK citizens must now go to the cross-party Commons Backbench Business Committee, which will then decide if it is worthy of a debate.

The petition, presented by Paul Staines, who writes the Guido Fawkes political blog, has already been backed by several MPs.

The restoration for capital punishment was last debated in 1998 (during the passage of Human Rights Act), and was rejected by 158 votes. However there has been a build up of public opinion for this bill. With Conservative MP Priti Patel and party Colleague Andrew Turner saying they are in favour of restoration of capital punishment “for the most serious and significant crimes”.

Capital Punishment in the UK for the crime of murder was abolished in 1969, with the last execution, by hanging, taking place in 1964, in Strangeways Prison. However, though it was never applied, the death penalty did remain on the statute book for certain other offenses until as late as 1998. These offenses were: treason, piracy with violence, espionage, causing fire in a naval dockyard, ship, magazine or warehouse and various military offenses such as mutiny. 

The methods for these executions were beheading which was available until 1973; however, hanging was still available until 1998. In May 1998 the House of Commons voted to prohibit all capital punishment unless in time of war.

In 2009 a survey showed that 70% of UK Citizens backed the reinstating of the death penalty for at least one of the following crimes; armed robbery, rape, crimes related to paedophilia, terrorism, adult murder, child murder, child rape, treason, child abuse, or kidnapping.

Harold Shipman mug shot

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Harold Shipman

A UK Polling Report shows that not all UK citizens are without a heart and those that do mostly only support the bill when the most heinous crimes are committed, with 67% for child killers and 69% for serial killers. (63% of people would have hanged Ian Huntley! – However the timing of the poll coincided with this, and people’s emotions may have been heightened!) 

I myself do not know if I would either support the death penalty or not, for criminals such as Fred and Rosemary West, Harold Shipman, Peter Sutcliff, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. I feel total repulsion towards these “human beings”(?) and cannot understand any motivation paedophiles and killers have, but saying that, who are we to choose if others should lose their lives because of their crimes? Does this bring you down to the level of a murderer too? Is it all about the cost of keeping these predators behind bars or is it to do with the “eye for an eye” theology? I myself cannot say that I would be able to take the decision to end someone’s life. And what if the verdict is incorrect? Could innocent lives be taken in the quest for retribution and an effort to stamp out these horrific crimes?

I do not know my mind is mixed... but I’m very interested to find out what the other views on this subject are.

Anonymous's picture


You learn (or suffer) if you stay alive.  If you die, it's over.  Death is not the best punishment...

Sam's picture

Learning indeed.

Agreed. There are certain crimes for which even capital punishment seems too lenient. But the emphasis is on the word "seems". Our judgements in all things are based on subjective reasoning (as there is no other kind of reasoning accessible to us humans), let alone crimes of the aforementioned magnitude. I, in my own subjective view, cannot condone the killing of another human under any circumstances (save for the obvious self-defence scenarios, and even then). Would that such was the opinion of those British Conservative MPs and bloggers. I think the person that posted before me was right-on about the implied uselessness of killing-off those we need to penalize and heal. The death penalty has always caused this cognitive dissonance for me... much to the detriment of my reputation during late-night, wine-fueled discussions! It's sad, but a good number of my better educated family members and friends, though level-headed folks, still have room in their minds (and hearts and souls) to support such things, at least after certain "criteria" are met.

A frustrating issue indeed, considering the ebb and flow of public opinion and the subjective source of it all. Frustrating because, as people, we all have an idea of what we think should be done. What ideas should be acted upon. It's when we have to reconcile these divergent motivations that we often get stuck, run into conflicts, or stagnate (thanks especially to the necessary evil of beaurocracy). But there's always a chance to learn from our previous hiccups. In this case, though, each hiccup costs a human life - a bundle of energy that has no more to do with what its body does in the visible world, than the biosphere has to do with how rain affects somebody's work-day.

In summation, I suppose it all comes down to people needing to examine their own feelings, the sources of those feelings, and be mindful of their concience at all times. Obvious, I know. But a tall order, and one that I don't claim to be especially good at filling. It is, though, in my opinion, the only avenue for real social awareness and subsequent change (read: evolution). Rhetoric doesn't solve a thing. Neither do dogmatic approaches. However, rhetoric and dogma are the chief implements of those in power - those who make the laws. So I guess the real question is: how do we, as a civilization, get our leaders to become aware of their conciences as more than that pesky thing that requires them to fill a weekly prescription for insomnia-meds?

A head-scratcher to say the least!


Hewy's picture

Eye for an eye.

Beyond the obvious concern that many people who were victims of capital punishment in the past have gone on to be proved innocent the death penalty question rears it's ugly head very often and is never far from discussion. However those who tend call for it's re-instigation have little tolerance for engaging in anything beyond reactionary ill informed views.

A concern for consideration is that the death penalty IS NOT A DETERRENT! I'll repeat that if you weren't taking notice or were baffled by it's confliction with your already held pre-conception of people skipping around daisy carpetted meadows in a new dawn where we kill people for shear vengence!

THE DEATH PENALTY IS NOT A DETERRENT! Just check out the number of civilisations who still carry out this barbaric act and check their crime rates out. Case closed! End of! Shut the fuck up! You are wrong! Goodnight!... Oh yes, I forgot to mention it solves nothing. Just a small aside. It solves nothing. NOT A THING! Got it? Good? And it also turns us into murderers, so it's a wee bit hypocritical!

I think you'll find people who are pro-death penalty also want Johnny Foreigner to go back to where they came from, want to lump our armed forces with the burden of bringing up our youth (with the re-instatement of National Service), think all dogs should be muzzled, think gays invented AIDS and are pretty much responsible for fucking up the world so much that they are responsible for the destruction of any notion of future our kids hold, hence the recent riots.

They are curtain twitching tits who want a nice pretty garden, a few nice cars, a jolly jaunt to the country in their God afwul plastic caravans every now and then and who have this wholly unreal nostalgic vision of Britain being a green a pleasant land. It's never been pleasant for a peasant. And that's they way Westministers current incumbents view the working... sorry... underclass!

Britain has never been Great. It's massacred the world for material gain and has set the western world onto a path of destruction for the US to finish off!

Good evening!

Anonymous's picture

Maybe you should re-read your

Maybe you should re-read your post and consider how bigoted and condescending you come across. There's a difference between passion for a cause and mindless rhetorical diatribe, complete with pointless caps, re-itteration and exclamation marks on a minor blog where it appears most of the contributors take a very wishy washy non-commital stance anyway. Why not look for a more worthwhile adversary (ie. someone who you know disagrees with you) to shake your pram at if you're really that angry?

Frankly I couldn't be less interested in your kind of know-it-all-coz-I-thought-about-it angry adolescent all-day-on-a-message-board types. Quell your ego and contribute something reasonable, otherwise no-one will care and you'll continue to be resigned to posting irrelevant vacuous nonsense.

gmoney's picture


If this isn't the pinnacle of irony, I don't know what is.  How have you done anything different than Hewy?  What "reasonable contribution" have you offered?

Anonymous wrote:

Frankly I couldn't be less interested in your kind of know-it-all-coz-I-thought-about-it angry adolescent all-day-on-a-message-board types. Quell your ego and contribute something reasonable, otherwise no-one will care and you'll continue to be resigned to posting irrelevant vacuous nonsense.

gmoney's picture

ok, exactly what part of that

ok, exactly what part of that comment was "bigoted"?  Your comment smacks of someone with a personal vendetta against the previous commenter

Hewy's picture

Contradictory response!

My how rule-bound you are! What's pointless about caps? EH? WHAT?

For someone who couldn't be less interested in my, - kind of know-it-all-coz-I-thought-about-it angry adolescent all-day-on-a-message-board types - you didn't half take the bait. I find this condescending and bigoted response refreshingly sweet and humorous. And for someone who is concerned about the style in which I write what's with the over use of hyphens? Surely, "Know it all coz I thought about it angry adolescent all day on a message board types" may have been more apropos.

Also if you knew anything about the ego it cannot be quelled.

Regarding my anger. I have none. I'm just bored with the death penalty discussion.

What contribution would be reasonable for someone as anonymous as you are? A discussion on butter? How expensive tins of beans are nowadays?

Grow a pair and move on.

funny quotes sayings's picture


It is really a big irony. Death is easy punishment. Living with guilt is so difficult. Things must be stopped before being happening. They should take actions. After that it only becomes discussion. It is good to lime light on it. Thanks