This anonymous ‘Open Letter by a Cop’ has been going viral on the Web recently and has become ready response by many of my friends who either dont have the time to apply themselves to construct their own point of view on why they support death penalty or are just plain lazy to do so.
Under normal circumstances, I wont even react to an anonymous letter because to me it shows a lack of conviction. But this letter is quite interesting because it seems to have swayed some of my friends.
Even after ignoring some of the trite abuses the writer makes at journalists and generally every one opposed to death penalty on the grounds that this is probably an emotional outburst, I still do not see any solid arguments he makes justifying Yakub’s death penalty.
But here goes my honest take on this.
Let us get one thing right straight away. Fighting terrorism to safeguard the nation and objecting to death penalty are two different things.
Yes, that is right.
Now if you are in an excited state of mind, with your fingers aching to type away something caused by a mind fog, let me put it again for you.
Opposition to death penalty does not equal a soft approach on terrorists.
Also, please, if you are a policeman or an armyman or someone belonging to any State constituted law enforcement agency, and if you are confronted with a threat to your life or the lives of those that the law has empowered you to protect, go ahead and use the best possible means to discharge that duty. Even if it means, shooting right between the eyes a terrorist or anyone intending to cause that harm to our nation or our citizens.
But things are not so black and white as it is in a field situation, once the said terrorist is apprehended, by force or by guile or by surrender, and is housed in a State prison.
Correct me if I am wrong, but prisons are correctional facilities first and foremost. A prisoner, whatever his crime may be, is a person whose threat is to be negated within a prison and if there is an opportunity for him to reform, it has to be provided.
The very State instruments that I expect to be even ruthless while defending its territorial rights I expect to show a great degree of benevolence while treating prisoners. Of course, there are going to be the rarest of rare cases where you one might find the justification to kill a person by way of death penalty.
But what bothers me is the “rarest of rare” case that most people refuse to talk about. If the rarest of rare cases might prompt the call for death penalty, then we might even have that rarest of rare cases where we might get it wrong.
To me, that possibility is disturbing.
People treat empathy as either a weakness or a strength.
But some mistakes cannot be corrected ever.
Also, there is this sweeping remark mostly from right wingers that those who are arguing against death penalty are waking up only now. It really does not matter when one wakes up, as long as one wakes up.
Personally, I have been talking about this a long time now. I have shared George Orwell’s brilliant essay ‘A Hanging’ several years back, and I dare say this is one issue where I have agreed unflinchingly with The Hindu and its edits over the years. (It is one thing that I was employed there but I don’t necessarily agree with someone or something every single time and those who know me really well know this.)
Also, this whole argument that the “intelligentsia” are necessarily elitists simply because they work out of an air conditioned office is so absurd, especially coming from an anonymous writer. It is not just this writer, but I find increasingly plenty of my friends being ruthless in their swipes against journalists in general and against the profession itself.
Most journalists I know just report. For every journalist who writes an opinion piece, there are hundreds that just report facts or events and do their jobs with an unreal sense of idealism.
(There is no denying that this new age online media driven trend of opinion pieces is leading to a lot of half-baked writing. But I would still say Indian journalism is in a state of flux. But this is a huge topic in itself and one of the things I will be blogging about soon.)
Thanks for your time.