Death for dealers not plausible idea


First, it’s murderers. Then it’s drug dealers. Then drunken drivers.

Then …

President Donald Trump’s recently divulged idea of invoking capital punishment to dissuade drug traffickers would send us further down a slippery slope toward barbarism.

If we’re willing to execute people for selling illegal drugs to drug abusers, why wouldn’t we execute those who have more directly ended lives by driving drunk and slamming into a car carrying a family?

If we’re going to execute people for reckless manslaughter, why wouldn’t we do the same to tobacco company executives whose products kill thousands each year, or restaurant moguls whose fast food promotes deadly diabetes and fatal heart disease?

And why would we spare airplane engine makers whose shoddy workmanship leads to a catastrophic crash?

Where would it end?

President Trump is an admirer of strongarm leaders, including those who have taken extreme measures to punish drug traffickers. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has promoted the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers in his country, is the most striking example.

While drug dealers deserve no leniency and should fear punishment befitting their transgressions, Trump is emphasizing the wrong syllable here.

A looming death penalty could make drug dealers think a second, third or fourth time before dealing, but it also might push them toward more desperate measures to defend themselves and avoid arrest. And then, of course, there’s the huge expense to taxpayers of the lengthy trials and appeals of death-row inmates.

The president should focus on policies that advance the treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers, as well as advocating for a societal shift toward active role models who help guide young people in the throes of poverty, hunger and pain.

These are among the Americans most susceptible to drug addiction.

But they also have great potential to turn their lives around and help the country turn back the poisonous tide that’s sickening and killing us by the thousands.

We need the president’s leadership to dig at the roots of the problem rather than pumping up the attendant violence.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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