The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


1. I am against capital punishment, especially in my own country. The government is bad at everything and it should not have the power to kill its citizens.

2. This was a foreign government (more or less), but to some extent I agree with Christopher Hitchens that his was basically a lynching.

3. I will not weep for Hussein. That said, the fact that you execute an evil man does not excuse capital punishment. If you execute willy-nilly you will kill some evil men. The problem is that you will also off some good men, and you have no right to do so. The problem with capital punishment has nothing to do with the actual execution, and everything to do with the system for determining who will be executed. We (theoretically) slant that system towards finding innocence, and for good reason. It limits the government's power. You might, in theory be able to design a functioning system, at least on paper. However, once you give the government the right to kill it will probably look to expand that right, and to subvert the protections that you have enacted. It is what government does.

4. I have two pragmatic objections to this execution:

a. I suspect that keeping Hussein in prison could have been useful for intelligence-gathering purposes.

b. We are trying to create stability in the Middle East. As a rule, large public executions, without regard to any moral concerns, do not foster stability.

Saddam Hussein deserved to die. No one is qualified to kill him.

And make sure that you read Hitch's full piece.


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