As Oliver Wendell Holmes explained, “If I were having a philosophical talk with a man I was going to have hanged (or electrocuted) I should say, ‘I don’t doubt that your act was inevitable for you but to make it more avoidable by others we propose to sacrifice you to the common good. You may regard yourself as a soldier dying for your country if you like. But the law must keep its promises.’” This promise-keeping underlies the policy of applying justice “as a matter of principle,” regardless of the immediate costs or even of consistency with common sense.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Troy Davis and The Death Penalty
Not to be a downer, but I'm pro-death-penalty and (more importantly) pro-justice-system, especially in cases where there is absolutely no evidence of racism or misconduct of any kind, as in the recent case of Troy Davis.He recieved a fair trial by his peers and numerous fair appeals in the light of questionable 'new evidence'. None of which was enough to satiate racial antagonizers and America-haters everywhere. From the NAACP and Al Sharpton to Ammesty International and Big Boi, many opposed his execution up to the last minute. But would they have done so if the facts were the same but the 'victim' was white? There's no reason to think that they would and ample reason to doubt it, casting negative racial aspersions on the entire movement's true motives. In the short run, being in favor of the death penalty is difficult. Emotions and even one form of reason ('killing this person won't bring back the dead or deter others') are fully on the opposong team. Regardless of the deterrent effect, it is logical to support the state's right to weild the death penalty and execute it when appropriate. Has a dead criminal ever been at risk of recidivism? No, and so the death penalty is completely competent at keeping specific criminals from committing further crimes themselves. Whether it keeps others from commiting crimes is a secondary consideration, if any. To quote Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate: