Saturday, 23 February 2008

Choose Life

The Dixie and Wright cases have led to calls for the restoration of capital punishment. Those calls are profoundly mistaken. Far fewer countries have the death penalty than is generally supposed, and far more American States never use it, or do not even have it these days. It hardly happens in the US outside Texas.

But the real point is this: the State has no more right to take a morally innocent human life (i.e., that of a wrongly convicted person) on the basis of mere judicial guilt than on the basis of, say, disability, or old age, or terminal illness, or still being in the womb.

So, when can we expect liberal America (New Jersey recently abolished the death penalty, even if only symbolically), and the UN (which recently called for a moratorium on the death penalty by a margin far too large to be put down to mere Western cultural imperialism) to act against those evils, too?

Nor is it coherent for a country to have nuclear weapons but not capital punishment. The solution to that incoherence is not the restoration or retention of capital punishment.


  1. My view is that if you accept that the death penalty does tend to deter, as I do, then the state has an obligation to use it. Innocent people die because we don't use it & we do have some responsibility for that too.

  2. Where does it tend to deter? Not in Texas, or anywhere else where it is actually used. Otherwise, it wouldn't be used.