Go BackClose WindowHomett.humanist :: forum :: feedback :: crime

Death Penalty

Proceed with caution on road to hangman

Trinidad Express Opinion 10 June 2005

Even in Trinidadian terms the murders of which Lester Pitman has been found guilty are among the most heinous. A country used to bloody murder was both stunned and outraged by the tortured death that Pitman meted out to an elderly woman, Maggie Lee, her daughter Lynette Pearson, and her son-in-law, John Cropper, the husband of social activist and now Independent Senator, Angela Cropper.

Pitman and his accomplice, or accomplices, showed no mercy after gaining entry to the Croppers' Cascade home, slitting the throats of their victims in an orgy of slaughter that must have subjected the doomed trio to cruel and unusual punishment in the seconds, minutes or even hours before they met their savage and unexpected deaths.

As a consequence it is difficult, impossible even, to summon any sympathy for Pitman, whatever the feelings of disquiet that overtook him when the death warrant was read to him, his own enduring banality (as is the case with so many killers) revealed by his choice of fast-food fried chicken as his last meal on Monday.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to discern how the State can possibly carry out its plan to hang him on that day given his right to lodge appeals to save his sorry life and the inevitability of a battery of lawyers combining their talents either because they want to prevent what they consider to be a legal travesty or simply because of their conviction that nobody-not even the State-has the right to kill.

That last is a philosophical, even religious, discussion that deserves to be ongoing, whatever what might be presumed to be the majority's vengeful view, but the State, as of now, has to proceed with maximum caution lest it ends up committing a crime for reasons of political expediency. This remains a very real possibility given popular pressure on the powers-that-be to do something, indeed anything, to arrest the general blood-letting that has become part of the daily diet of all Trinbagonians.

The point is that even if Pitman deserves to be hanged the State will find itself doing the right thing for the wrong reason and that is an untenable situation given the huge questions of State power as it relates to life and death that are bound to be raised with what, we fear, all kinds of unforeseen consequences in the future. Whatever the national urge for blood, the leadership responsibility is for restraint.

See: TT Humanist Statement on the Death Penalty

Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association • www.humanist.org.tt/humanist/forum/feedbackPage Top