Does the state have the right to kill you? Consider these two high profile headlines:
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced sharp criticism yesterday about his opinions on women, gays, Israel, nuclear weapons and the Holocaust in an appearance at Columbia University, where protesters bearing signs reading "Hitler Lives" lined the streets and the university's president issued blistering introductory remarks inside a crowded lecture hall.
Homosexuals are stoned to death in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran doesn't have homosexuals in their country like the United States.
Iran is marked as critical by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider the constitutionality of lethal injections in a case that could affect the way inmates are executed around the country.
The high court will hear a challenge from two inmates on death row in Kentucky - Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. - who sued the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2004, claiming lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
Baze had been scheduled for execution Tuesday night, but the Kentucky Supreme Court halted the proceedings earlier this month.
"This is probably one of the most important cases in decades as it relates to the death penalty," said David Barron, the public defender who represents Baze and Bowling.
Baze, 52, has been on death row for 14 years. He was sentenced for the 1992 shooting deaths of Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe.
Bennett and Briscoe were serving warrants on Baze when he shot them. Baze has said the shootings were the result of a family dispute that got out of hand and resulted in the sheriff being called.
Bowling was sentenced to death for killing Edward and Tina Earley and shooting their 2-year-old son outside the couple's Lexington, Ky., dry-cleaning business in 1990. Bowling was scheduled to die in November 2004, but a judge stopped it after Bowling and Baze sued over the constitutionality of lethal injection.
Does the state ever have the right to kill one of its citizens? Do the circumstances make a difference?
States who carried out the most executions last year: China (at least 1,010 but sources suggest the real tally is between 7,500 and 8,000), Iran (177) Pakistan (82), Iraq (at least 65), Sudan (at least 65), and the United States (53).FACT: The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly restrained in retentionist countries. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the U.S. are the only fully developed countries that have retained the death penalty. The death penalty was overwhelmingly practiced in poor and authoritarian states, which often employed the death penalty as a tool of political oppression.
Though the public stoning of homosexuals is different from a Jury electing to execute a citizen, do the ends justify the means?