Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blog 3.5 (Question and Answer)

Discussion Question 2:
How does geography play a role in America's continuous use of the death penalty? How do state and local issues, values, and circumstances affect whether or not a state adopts pro or anti-death penalty legislation?

America is a large nation that has its fair share of both large metropolitan centers as well as tiny towns that serve the widespread unincorporated rural communities around them. This divide between urban and rural communities, as well as the values that each of the two hold, I feel has a major impact on why the death penalty remains in the position that it currently holds in the United States as the ultimate penalty for a crime.

Let's start with the cities and big urban centers. They have huge populations where not knowing someone else nearby is probably the norm and having a strict and uniform value system is almost impossible due to the sheer amount of opinions that exist. This creates a pluralism of people and opinions all around. Maybe it is in this environment that people best develop a feeling of tolerance, or thick skin, towards others that forces them to get along with those around them at a certain level as to not make living in such close quarters too unbearable.

On the other hand, those living in small local communities might be tempted to conform so as to not stand out from the norm. Differences can be magnified in small communities, especially those concerned with the survival of their way of life, so it's better to just go along with the crowd than risk becoming a pariah since everyone probably knows everyone else. With less points of view, it's possible that the consequences can be greater since agreement and conformity are prized heavily and voicing differently may lead to a loss of status or position in the community.

From a percentage point of view think of it like this. It's easier to get a bigger percentage of a small population to agree on something than with a bigger population so, in a small town, it might be easier to convince others of the rightness of a harsh punishment for a crime. The death penalty has existed for a long time and I can probably say that it is more established in the popular mindset than not having the death penalty. In a small town a person would probably not challenge the notion if it ran contrary to the opinions of others out of a sense of harmony, but in a big city with so many view points already it's much easier to change your opinions.

1 comment:

  1. Jason, I also commented on this topic and the geography question. However, I came to a different conclusion. While your logic about rural places having similar views and values is correct, I think that as it relates to the death penalty is not accurate. How many capital cases are from rural counties. Even though Texas and Florida are very conservative and has many rural areas, the majority of crime occurs in the large cities, of which both states have many. Moreover, the idea of mob justice and fear of neighbor retribution for going against the mob is antiquated, or at least a few decades old. I think individual and community values on justice and crime fighting is more a result of politicians and governmental leaders that implement laws and programs rather then a result of individuals feeling like they must fit in or bear the brunt of the mob. I look forward to taking this to the next level in class on Monday:)