The Supreme Court recently ruled that the death penalty cannot be applied to cases of the rape of a child. This has produced an outcry of opposition from among others, Barack Obama. I think Obama has missed the mark on this one. You see, there is that pesky LINE as in where do we draw the LINE?
Admittedly, I oppose the death penalty altogether. Its deterrent value is questionable and it licenses the state to commit the very act that it is punishing. Of course, that is the death penalty as it applies to murder convictions. While I disagree with it, at least in the application of punishing the crime of deliberate premeditated murder, we have some objective yardstick. In the case of child rape, I see an incredibly slippery slope.
If we apply the death penalty to child rape, what do we tell:
The man whose 80 year old grandmother has been raped?
The engaged woman who was saving her virginity (yes, old fashioned but it still happens) for her future husband and has been raped?
The young woman who is now pregnant with the child of her rapist?
The man who has been raped?
Do we tell all these people that their trauma is somehow less than that of a child? You answer, “childhood is precious and special. There must be different standards applied there.”
So do we now apply the death penalty to:
Those who physically abuse children (which would put a lot of parents on death row)?
Creators and consumers of child pornography?
Employers who violate child labor laws?
Where do we draw the line? Our national obsession with the welfare of children is somewhat hypocritical in light of our professed disdain of but secret titillation with the likes of Jamie Lynn Spears and Miley Cyrus.
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision. If we must have the death penalty, it must be reserved for the most narrowly defined set of crimes. Otherwise, in the name of so called decency, we are on the slippery slope to a terrorist state.