The Politically Incorrect Show - 13/06/2001
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Wednesday June 13, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd., the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
In the wake of Timothy McVeigh's execution, the vexed question of capital punishment has exercised our minds again. To oppose capital punishment in the circles I move in is to run the risk of being called a wuss, a wimp, someone who's soft on crime, or, more eruditely, a rampant sceptic. Lately I've been discussing the matter privately by e-mail as well with a supporter of capital punishment. This boy is as sharp as a tack & doesn't let me get away with anything, so I've been forced to try to clarify my own thinking on this matter.
First, I accept that someone who takes the life of another forfeits his own right to life. I do not take the view that ALL human life is sacred regardless of whose it is. Hitler's life was most assuredly not sacred, nor is that of any murderer who in effect renounces his status as a human being. That a murderer deserves to die is not in question. What I do not accept is that the state is thereby obligated to kill him. The fact that someone deserves to die does not make killing him the ONLY option, any more than raping a rapist is the only option.
In devising a system of penalties & punishments, the state IS obligated to take the full context of human existence into account. Part of that context is human fallibility - the possibility of error. This, note, does not mean that people are ALWAYS in error & can NEVER get it right & know with full certainty that they HAVE got it right. To acknowledge the possibility of error, after all, is to presume the possibility of certainty; it is most emphatically NOT to embrace "rampant scepticism." Now, the supporters of capital punishment say that when one IS certain that person X committed the murder with which he has been charged, the state should proceed to kill him. That allows for the following disparity - that murderer X is put to death because the evidence against him is conclusive, while murderer Y is spared because the evidence against him is merely strong (remember, a person's guilt or innocence is a FACT, independent of our knowledge of it or evidence for it). I, on the other hand, argue that the severity of a sentence should be commensurate with the severity of the crime of which one has been found guilty, not with the conclusiveness of the evidence. A person found guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" should be treated the same as someone found guilty beyond ALL doubt. If the former should not be put to death - because there is still SOME doubt - neither should the latter. Both are murderers in the eyes of the law & should be treated equally (leaving aside here any question of mitigating circumstances, which is irrelevant to THIS argument). What is wrong with sentencing BOTH to a living death, the life-long denial of their liberty? That serves the dual purpose of punishing the guilty appropriately AND leaving open the possibility of redressing any error that may have been made.
Am I convinced of my own case? Well, if I hear a better one, I'll be the first to embrace it. Over to you!
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