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JeanPaulSartre's avatar

When a government exercises the death penalty and kills a criminal, would you say they were murdered?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) April 13th, 2010

We use the word “murder” generally for someone that is killed prematurely in an unjust fashion. But what about when someone is put to death in the name of justice (regardless of how you, or I feel about it) Is this still murder?

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30 Answers

bob_'s avatar

No. I’d say they were executed.

thriftymaid's avatar

Yes, I would, but actually it is a legal killing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Murder has connotations attached to it – as in murder is somehow ‘wrong’ and the government can’t do anythign wrong, right? It’s a slipper slope – some people think abortion’s murder and saying that make it seem like, to them, it’s a bigger deal than it is.

DarkScribe's avatar

No. Not unless it was a “Kangaroo” court.

john65pennington's avatar

Justifiable Homicide.

plethora's avatar

Nope…’s an execution.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

No. They were executed.

wonderingwhy's avatar

If you take away the context, it’s the same. It’s the intentional death of a person at the hands of another. But that context is what defines it to be execution rather than murder. If you call it murder, it implies the context is irrelevant.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Murder is unlawful. Execution is not.

iphigeneia's avatar

Like everyone else, I would call it an execution, not a murder. That doesn’t mean I’d support it, it’s just the correct term.

jfos's avatar

I would say it is killing, just as murder is.

partyparty's avatar

I would call it a justifiable execution

gtreyger's avatar

All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder. Execution is killing, but it is not a murder.

rebbel's avatar

You can also look at it like this, in my opinion: “When a government exercises the death penalty and kills a criminal (but later it turns out the ‘criminal’ was innocent), would you say they were murdered?”
It happens.
I would answer yes to that.

iphigeneia's avatar

@rebbel I would call that manslaughter. Though if the execution were carried out without a proper trial, etc., then I’d call it murder.

DarkScribe's avatar

@rebbel would you say they were murdered?” It happens.

It would referred to as a “Tragic accident”.

rebbel's avatar

It is literally an accident when that happens, but i doubt if the family agrees with that.
To me, the death-penalty an sich is tragic.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think that the government executing a criminal is similar to someone killing in self defense, a soldier killing someone on a battlefield, or a cop shooting a criminal in the line of duty.

I think that @Simone_De_Beauvoir made a good point about murder carrying a negative connotation. I think people think of murder as wrong so in the case of execution and the examples I gave above, those are justified and therefore not murder.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

No. I call it karma.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

I think @JeanPaulSartre is trying to look past the legal side of it.

But if you look up the word in the dictionary, the word murder itself mostly has heavy legal connotations. But there is one definition that doesn’t; to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously. Looking up the word inhumane it says: not humane; lacking humanity, kindness, compassion, etc. And for barbarously: uncivilized; wild; savage; crude, and savagely cruel or harsh.

Whether you think the death penalty is wrong or not, someone else could potentially see it as murder.

A childhood friend of mine was murdered last year in Florida, and they sentenced her killer to the death penalty. I don’t agree with it. I think he should have to live with it and be reminded of her every day for the rest of his miserable life; death is too good for him. But that’s just my opinion.

Coloma's avatar

Semantics, we can always find a nice sugar coated word to substitute for an uglier one. lol

Murder or execuuion matters not, I do not believe we should kill anyone, period, unless in the most urgent need for self defense.

Not any different than hitting a child for hitting.

I do beleive those that are a threat to society need to be segregated, but, no….I do not believe in the death penalty.

CMaz's avatar

I would say they were killed.

ucme's avatar

By definition alone the answer has to be no.

Sophief's avatar

No, they got what they deserved, I would say revenge.

davidk's avatar

“We use the word ‘murder’ generally for someone that is killed prematurely in an unjust fashion.”

Well, some may define murder this way, but they shouldn’t. Though obviously well intended, the question creates a logical fallacy in the form of a faulty generalization. The definition of murder and killing are not the same.

CMaz's avatar

Murder =bad
Kill = good

JeffVader's avatar

I strongly disagree with the death penalty for various reasons. However, if a country does still practice this, I dont think it equates to murder.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, they were killed by a primitive and barbaric form of punishment. One that cannot be undone, if new evidence turns up.

Strauss's avatar

I think capital punishment brings the government that practices it down to the level of the criminal who is being killed.

Coloma's avatar

I find this discussion very interesting.

I’d add that it is wise to remember that, even if the person in question is found to not be mentally unwell, from a purely spiritual perspective, they cannot be well, in the sense that a whole, well, emotionally & spiritually healthy human would not kill unless under the most dire of circumstances.

This is not to say, again, that society does not need to keep dangerous others away from the general population, but….I think compassion is huge.

I feel for both the victim and the perpetrator.

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