The Death Penalty – Hanging and its alternatives
Posted on February 18th, 2019

R Chandrasoma

Killing enemies of the State (the Sentence of Death) is a hallowed tradition and its moral standing has been mostly ignored by both priests and politicians. Nevertheless, in this age of compassion – when even the slaughter of domestic animals for food and sustenance is viewed by some as a moral outrage – the suggestion that inveterate criminals should be painfully and publicly asphixiated (by hanging) not only to remove  a social danger but also to fill terror in would-be wrongdoers seems a gross anachronism in a so-called civilized state.  Suppose it is argued that the end justifies the means – that a greater good results from the spectacular use of violence by rulers and governors in exceptional circumstances.

The contentious issue is this  – can the same taming or eradication of the pathologically unfit be attained by other – and more humane – methods? There is an alternative based on our scientific knowledge of the roots of violence not only in our species but in our animal kin as well. With hardly an exception, all vicious and specular crime is committed by males in their prime. The hormone Testosterone – secreted by the male generative organs is the culprit  and this ‘truth’ was known to rulers down the ages. Not only political elites but also common animal breeders and pet owners knew that by ‘castrating’ a ferocious male there ia a wondrous transformation – the fighting bull becomes the placid ox .

Let us refocus on the the issue of male criminal behaviour.  Is not radical emasculation by removing the hormone producing testicles (castration) a more humane  and cost-effective way of dealing with male criminality and violence? A serial killer, a child molester or a dangerous drug-dealer can be very effectively ‘removed’ from circulation’ by a trifling operation – emasculation.  If it is argued that such ‘punishment’ does not have the horrors and spectacle of a public hanging , let it be noted that a ‘macho male’ values his masculinity above all else and its ‘removal’ is a devastating blow to his identity and power-base. He is a much diminished male and his glory days are over. It is true that the ‘joy in punishing’  and the delight in seeing a public enemy tortured are lost – but these are base passions that have little to do with social justice.

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