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Our View: A case for the death penalty

As if this state's citizens didn't have enough issues to mull and digest, the pending death by lethal injection of Elijah Page revisits the always dicey death penalty.

As if this state's citizens didn't have enough issues to mull and digest, the pending death by lethal injection of Elijah Page revisits the always dicey death penalty.

As with abortion, the battle lines were drawn long ago. Proponents view the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for the most egregious types of crimes. For those supporting this philosophy, Page's crime certainly qualifies. He took part in the beating and bludgeoning of Chester Poage, who died six years ago near Spearfish when Page and two others tortured him for more than two hours before killing him. They stabbed him, stripped him, stoned him and forced him to drink hydrochloric acid. Page kicked Poage in the head 30 or 40 times by his own admission.

It wasn't just a killing; it was a subhuman brutality reminiscent of the worst kinds of war crimes that history has recorded. It was, based on the evidence, the act of malevolent minds.

If anyone deserves the death penalty, Page does, a sentence with which he himself concurs.

Opponents of capital punishment will argue that the death penalty is savagery in and of itself and that humans should not take the lives of other humans except in self defense and war. Further, the death penalty eliminates the possibility of rehabilitation and even more chillingly, ignores the possibility that the convicted person is innocent -- as has happened in recent years and proven through DNA testing.

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Both positions are defensible, but the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the death penalty, a punishment that we support.

As for those who say it is inconsistent to support a death penalty but oppose abortion -- Gov. Mike Rounds has taken some criticism for this lately -- we see no inconsistency whatsoever. Abortion takes innocent lives; the death penalty punishes criminals for the most heinous crimes. Most believe in the sanctity of human life, yet there are conditions when taking that life is not only justified but necessary: In war, and in self defense. Capital punishment supporters add the death penalty to that short list. Advocates of abortion want that act included on the list, as well, though the use of abortion as birth control doesn't protect another life or defend it, but places privacy or convenience above the life itself.

South Dakotans already have abortion on the November ballot to wrestle with -- plus 10 other issues. It's a relief that we don't have to decide the death penalty, too.

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