why are we doing this?
written: 3:22 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005

Why oh why does MH have to give such titillating materials for SLS Part 2? I am so pissed off right now that I'm wasting my "rush through this huge 100-page document in two hours and call it study" time to write this entry.

I'm rather convinced that this country has very little regard for the sanctity of human life; that, or its citizens either don't give a fuck or don't know the details to give a fuck. We (or rather, I) are back to the death penalty thing again, my semi-educated reasons for being as against it as I am.

So I'm reading the Misuse of Drugs Act and under Section 18(2) it says, "Any person who is proved or presumed to have had a controlled drug in his possession shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have known the nature of that drug."

An accompanying case put into simpler terms what that convoluted sentence was trying to say, Shan Kai Weng v PP, and I quote: "The position under our law, therefore, is that possession is proven once the accused knows of the existence of the thing itself."

So basically if you're carrying a bottle of capsules thinking it's your glucosamine for your defective knee cartilages and it turns out that the powder inside said capsules are actually cocaine you'd be hanged for possession which the law assumes to be for purposes of trafficking.

Hmm, tell me, am I crazy for thinking that there's something quite fucked up with that picture? In the United States abolitionists argue that the system is so not foolproof that the risk of sending innocent people to their deaths is very high; over here, the law implies that it is okay to hang such people, probably to uphold grander ambitions that enhance public policy whose real justification currently eludes me.

Under Section 300(c) of the Penal Code for murder, culpable homicide is murder "if it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person, and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death".

Basically, in plain English, you don't need an intent to murder to be found guilty of murder...oh wait, I'm sorry, I kinda made a mistake there. What I should've said is that you don't need an intent to murder to discharge yourself and disprove your guilt, because that's kind of how the law works here: guilty until proven innocent.

Why did SNGS make me read To Kill A Mockingbird if our legal system is totally different from the ideals that the novel proposed?

And another thing I find terribly interesting: Under Californian law, the elements of murder include actual intent to murder, and the act of inflicting bodily harm that leads to death is not murder, but something else that comes with a less serious penalty. (Probably manslaughter, I don't know. I can't remember the exact details; I came across this while reading a Veronica Mars thread, in which they were debating over whether Logan's dad would be tried for murdering Lilly Kane when he didn't have intention, but an act that falls under our Section 300(c). Some antitrust lawyer made that post.)

You can say it's all in the name of public policy and protecting society's interests, but have you not realised that we're gambling with people's lives here? Does the sanctity of human life not mean anything to the law? And is it really fair to hang someone based on circumstantial evidence?

Okay, I watched this highly disturbing anti-death penalty movie on HBO last night, The Life of David Gale. I think its graphic nature overshadowed its polemics so that it almost crossed over to "snuff film" territory, but nevertheless its point was made pretty clearly: what you believe to be evidence of a murder may not always be what it appears to be.

And the death penalty, taking away someone's life, is irrevocable. You can't bring back the dead, not even when new evidence surfaces later that proves the person's innocence. We as human beings are far from infallibility; what gives us the right to take away the life of another person, especially (and I can't stress enough how especially I mean by that) in drug trafficking cases, ESPECIALLY when the law presumes your guilt?

It's so damn atrocious that I'm at a loss for the right words to use to convey the things that are running through my head right now. Don't even get me started on caning as a form of punishment for vandalism; my head is hurting too much for that.

The more I know about the law, the less interested I am in being a part of it. In this country you either go with the majority, or you get sidelined and sued until you're completely bankrupt if you give enough of a damn to stand up and campaign for changes. Give me a reason to stay and I'll give you ten against, because alienation isn't a feeling I particularly enjoy.

And having said all that, despite my pessimism and how I just know that the death penalty will be abolished world-wide one day but I won't be alive to see that happen, whenever I come across ignorant blog posts that assert it's "perfectly just" to hang first-time drug offenders, nevermind that they were in transit in Singapore and not bringing the drugs into this country, I see all that is wrong with this country and a part of me feels compelled to do something about it. Maybe this is the meaning to NUS LAW SCHOOL that I've been looking for; maybe this is even the meaning to my otherwise-pointless life.

But hell, on the other hand, it gets tiring. Feeling outraged, indignant, and the frustrating sense that people automatically write you off as being too kind, too compassionate, too anti-government, too fanatical just because you feel sufficiently passionate about something, enough to stand up for it, so many people who don't understand, it's so hard to find one person who shares your opinion, I don't know. I admire activists with the stamina to devote their whole lives to a single cause, even if they realise, at the end of the day, it's all just talk and the likelihood of them making a significant impact on society is very slim. Opinions "formed" and indoctrinated from Day One are very, very hard to change.

At the risk of sounding pretentious, sometimes I truly feel alienated from this society, the people that make up this society, all that jazz. My first instinct is to judge anyone who doesn't agree with me, I'm more inclined to play the moral card than before, and I know it's not right to impose my morals on other people.

I guess a part of me, untainted by cynicism, still wants to believe that our lives, the sanctity of a life, still mean something to even the most hardened advocate of Pragmatism.

Most of the time, though, I find out that I'm wrong.

And I call myself a cynic.

before sunrise // before sunset

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