I thought some more about what I wrote earlier this week, and I realised I may be at odds with the ancients in that I do not believe in the death penalty, but I am a believe in a life for life. In other words, if its proved beyond all doubt that you murdered someone, you should spend your life paying for it. I have always thought death an easy option, in comparison to serving a life sentence in gaol, and rarely is a life sentence really for life these days. Now, if someone killed one my own then they would probably want to spend the rest of their life in gaol, as opposed to any kind of life I might allow them were they at my disposal.
Recently, I watched a film, called "Ten Canoes", an ancient aboriginal story. During the course of the movie, a man is killed in retaliation for a slight, but its a case of mistaken identity; the wrong person is murdered. The murderer takes himself off, with a second, to the tribe of the victim in order to face his punishment. Both he, and his second, stand before the other tribe and face a barrage of spears. The murderer receives a wound just at the last, survives, and is carried away by his kin, including his second, who remains unharmed throughout. The tribe of the victim consider the debt for their dead brother paid. Unkown to them, the murderer later dies from his wounds. A natural kind of justice perhaps?
I felt that even if the murderer had survived, he had faced his punishment honourably and so the debt was paid. Much like the Sons of Tuireann, who completed the tasks set them, despite expectations they would perish.
From a personal point of view, I am never sure that our current justice system is adequate or imposes the kind of justice I would want. Then, I think of some of the people who might want to extract justice in the ways mentioned above and, perhaps, that would be worse, resulting in an ever escalating level of violence as we see in gang wars. Revenge killings are still reported in the news with regularity, too, however, this is not the type of personal justice I am advocating.
For me, each situation is different with individual requirements for compensation. Even I don't always seek compensation from those that slight me; some just aren't worth my time, and others lead to escalating wrongdoing.
What kind of justice would I want in a situation of manslaughter or murder? What if, as in the "Ten Canoes" situation, it was mistaken identity? I do know that I won't get the compensation I want; as my beliefs are at odds with our current justice system. I do know that I couldn't forgive the perpetrator, as so many others have done, and as is becoming somewhat expected by our society. Society might even consider me a godless heathen for thinking this way ...