Capital Punishment in “The Death Penalty Is a Step Back” and “Death to the Killers”
In Coretta Scott King’s “The Death Penalty Is a Step Back” and Mike Royko’s “Death to the Killers,” each author presents their individual analysis on the topic of capital punishment. The writers discuss their personal opinions on the issue of the death penalty, while giving several reasons to support their convictions. The authors have dissimilar views on the controversial issue of capital punishment. On one hand, King exclaims: “America took another step backwards towards legitimizing murder as a way of dealing with evil in our society.” In a desperate attempt to figure out the reasoning of those in favor of the death penalty, she asks: “Can we expect a decent society if the state is allowed to kill its own people?” In addition, the writer explains that because American violence has escalated over the last few years, the government and its citizens have begun reinforcing the act of the death penalty. However, she argues that no matter how much “we abhor violence,” executing criminals is neither moral nor constitutional, and it will not deter others from committing the same crimes. On the other hand, Royko initially explains that he doesn’t really like to “make fun of people who oppose the death penalty because they are so sincere.” Nevertheless, he wishes they would come up with new reasons as to why the government should put a stop to the death penalty. The author exemplifies his strong perspective on capital punishment by explaining many individual cases in which people “suffered a terrible loss, and live with terrible memories.”
He declares that every one of these families share “the knowledge that the killers are alive,” and they will not gain vengeance until it is evident that the criminals are not being “cared for by society.” Royko demands that the “opponents of the death penalty” should think about what the families of these criminals have had to go through, and then explain to them “just how cruel it is to kill someone.” In each article, the writers explain their reasons for taking one side. King points out that taking lives will not solve society’s problems: “An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking never upheld by legalized murder.” First, she makes comments about several instances in which people have been “mistakenly convicted.” The author explains that even if specters have only had this happen once, “that is too often.” Second, she indicates there have also been cases where the judge assumes the criminal is “beyond rehabilitation.” King continues to say that even in a situation like that, “Who shall make that determination?” Third, the writer disputes the fact that half of the “persons now on death row are black.” She believes this is a “racist application of laws,” and even a Florida survey shows that this is not just an “accurate reflection of guilt and homicide trends.” In contrast, Royko tells of the “worn out” arguments relayed by those in opposition to the death penalty. First, he speaks of how the public thinks that psychiatrists should study the killers to find out why they commit these crimes. The author replies that it takes a psychiatrist five years to figure out “why a guy wants to stop for two drinks after work and won’t quit smoking,” so why would they want to sit for even more years and listen to “Willie the Wolfman describe his ax murders.” Next, the writer talks about how people want to know what right society has “to take a life if an individual can’t.” He responds by saying “the individuals who make up a society give it that right” because the government does numerous things that individuals cannot do, such as delegating the right to use guns to the police but not to citizens. Third, Royko mentions how society assumes that “the death penalty doesn’t deter crime.” The author retorts that in most cases criminals do not consider the future consequences when they’re committing the crime. In conclusion, the authors of “The Death Penalty Is a Step Back” and “Death to the Killers,” utilize personal experiences to sustain their principles about the death penalty. Coretta Scott King and Mike Royko argue two sides of an issue that will continue to be a controversy for years to come.