Monday, April 04, 2005

Ok, back to serious stuff, like the death penalty

A common refrain from anti-death penalty proponents (expressed to me recently by a co-worker) is that it is somehow logically inconsistent to kill a murderer to show that society thinks killing is wrong. Like most liberal arguments, it's a nice sound bite, but falls apart under scrutiny. (I don't even need to mention the huge moral difference between who started it and who retaliated.)

How about a few examples of punishments for non-murder crimes. Society punishes kidnappers by forcibly seizing the kidnapper against his will and confining him thereafter against his will for as long as we see fit - essentially exactly what the kidnapper did to his victim. Hmm, is it wrong to punish kidnappers by kidnapping them? Is it logically inconsistent to express society's belief that kidnapping is wrong in this way?

How about stealing money - society punishes those who wrongfully take other's money by taking the wrongdoer's money. And not just by taking back the money that one stole. If that were the only punishment, why not steal and hope you get away with it? After all, if the worse that could happen is you have to give the money back; you're no worse off for the attempt. But, we have punitive damages. In other words, we find it perfectly acceptible to take away even more of a thief's money than he stole - forcibly, against the thief's will. Again, is it wrong, or logically inconsistent, to show society's disapproval of stealing by forcefully taking a thief's money?

The answer to all three is, of course not. There is a reason "an eye for an eye" has been around since Hammurabi. It is perfectly rational, and a perfectly appropriate punishment, to do to a perpetrator exactly what he wrongfully did to someone else. In this way, the perp gets to see how he feels when what he did is done to him. What does this remind you of? If you said the Golden Rule, go to the head of the class. "An eye for an eye" punishment is completely consistent with the Golden Rule and, moreover, reminds us of the flip side to that great moral commandment.

UPDATE: Will liberals spouting the above nonsense similarly criticise the anti-globalization crowd for using cell-phones and the internet to organize anti-globalization rallies? Don't bet on it.


Blogger mbzsales said...

Societies punishment is wrong, the golden rule is flawed, equal punishment is not equal to all, to take away from a thief what he has stolen from someone else will have a diminished impact on the thief, even if the punitive damages are compound. A thief who steals money has no respect for money. The same as the person, who pokes out someone’s eye, they cannot see themselves.

5:51 PM  

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