Monday, April 21, 2008

The state killing its citizens

Some distressing news as reported by Dahlia Lithwick - the Supreme Court is ready and willing to allow the death penalty in non-murder cases. I know most people will have no sympathy for child rapists, but this isn't an issue about them. This is about who we are willing to let the government kill. Ignoring wrongful executions and faulty convictions of innocent people (which is asking to ignore quite a bit), let us say that a death for a death is acceptable. Now we're going to kill people who commit any kind of heinous crime? What about morally questionable crimes? We go from murder, to child rape, to rape, to any kind of assault, to words that incite violence, to unorthodox political opinions... That might seem extreme, too much like a worst case "slippery slope" scenario, but if the death penalty is about deterrence, then what better deterrent for anything than death? We've seen what the government has done to innocent men accused of terrorism. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to see certain other crimes, maybe even outrageous political speech, punished by death.

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