Thou shalt not kill is the one commandment that most of us agree should also be a law. There should not be any laws restricting you from fucking your neighbor’s wife, or keeping holy the Sabbath day since we don’t even agree on which day the Sabbath should be; even if you think the Sabbath should be on a Tuesday, you can work 7 days a week if you feel like it and hard work and greed is not frowned upon, in fact in the capitalist society in which we live, it is considered an attribute. Laws derived from interpretations of the 10 commandments have changed but we hold on to the law extracted from the Bible, “thou shalt not kill.” The reason for this is that the murder rate might increase.
This is the same reason we think drugs should be illegal because then drug consumption would increase and then the world population would spiral down into a drug addled holy mess. We forget that a century ago all drugs were legal and I have never read or heard that the lack of these laws caused social problems. I realize that the Opium Wars are a glaring exception to this but that was state sponsored drug dealing. Most would agree that the society in which we live is corrupt, but people believe that it would be worse if we did not have laws to prevent these crimes and that is why they believe drugs like heroin and cocaine should be illegal. But there is no evidence that drug prohibition reduces consumption and in fact since the “war on drugs” laws were implemented by President Nixon in the 1970’s, drug consumption has increased significantly and after the prohibition of alcohol ended in the 1930’s alcohol consumption and crime related to it decreased.
The question then is to investigate if murder was legalized would more people be murdered? If murder were legalized today I don’t have a list of people I would like to eliminate and I think that is what most people feel. Most of us are not psychotic. We may get angry with our friends and family but killing them is not part of the way we look to solving the problem. Of course what we are concerned about are the people who are psychopaths. But it seems to me that a psychopath is not that concerned about the preventive laws in place now anyway. For the people who fly into a blind rage and kill their wives or neighbors, they have to consider there may be a possibility that since murder is legal, that somebody in the family of the person murdered could seek revenge and come after them too. Therefore you still have, not just an ethical dilemma or an empathy predicament there is the possibility that “if you live by the sword you will die by the sword”. It may take years for that to happen but if murder is legal the murderer would spend the rest of his life concerned that someone could be plotting the right moment for retribution; nature has designed a way to discourage murder.
Generally we prefer a system of laws that is more “fool proof” than nature or god or whatever you like to name it. But it seems to me that in this society, those who have the most money get the best legal representation and therefore the more money you have is the better chance you have of getting away with murder. For example if you lie about weapons of mass destruction and the vast majority of people perceive it to be a lie, then you might think twice about going to war and killing millions of innocent Iraqis, since there is a good chance that someone is going to want to settle the score by sticking a knife in your back. Right there you would have a million lives saved not to mention the ongoing suffering of those still alive who have been affected by this protracted war.
It would seem obvious that the people who benefit the most from the police and the justice system are the wealthy elite. We don’t see police squads on Park Ave or Wall Street arresting suspects for theft or possession of cocaine and since this is where most of the money is then logically there should be kilos of cocaine passing around these 2 zip codes and since the people who reside in these wealthy neighborhoods have more money than most, it would be logical to assume that they have the money since they are the most ruthless and corrupt, even psychopathic. So instead of arresting people for committing large crimes in wealthy neighborhoods they arrest or sometimes kill multitudes of petty criminals for minor infractions, like selling loose cigarettes, or selling weed, or jay walking, or walking between cars on the subway. Most of us don’t care about these petty infractions, if people wish to smoke, drink or cross the street wherever they want, it should be their choice, not a choice made by the state. Clearly the police are there to protect those who have everything from those who have nothing. But if murder was legal then the police would not be so willing to follow orders to make trouble in these poor neighborhoods by enforcing petty laws that prevent people from living their lives the way they wish. And prosecutors would be less willing to withhold evidence if they felt their lives could be endangered doing something unethical that would further their career. In the end we would have a much more equitable society, less anger and therefore less theft, less drug problems and less murder.
Why do we electrocute men for murdering an individual and then pin a purple heart on them for mass slaughter of someone arbitrarily labeled “enemy?