A new gig: Michael J. Totten — a talent discovered by the blogopshere — has a new gig: a TCS column. Here’s the first.
Totten is a good guy and I reccommend his site, even though he has banned me from commenting, rightly so.
But the tension is palpable between his wanting to execute Saddam forthwith and his opposing the death penalty here.
In fact one has nothing necessarily to do with the other in this respect:
Saddam’s manifest guilt does not prove that the death penalty here is pallored into irrelevance, although Totten is right about the depravity of our legal system regarding getting it wrong.
But on this argument, all convicts should be released.
On the other hand there are certainly cases where it is so obvious as to the guilt of the assailant that the death penalty is appropriate, just as it is for Saddam, and not “gratuitous”. Are we really to say that if Saddam could not kill again, he should not be killed anyway? Why not? We know he’s guilty. Why should he escape what his victims could not? Is this fair?
The death penalty in these kind of cases is also based upon the right of self-defense, which we are using to justify getting Saddam and killing him.
We want to prevent Saddam from killing more, too, who will not have been able to exercise their right of self-defense in killing him instead if they could. Obviously they will have failed, just as have Saddam’s previous victims.
Why should Saddam succeed in any case? Saddam’s victims were not trying to kill him, causing Saddam to react in self-defense. Saddam succeedes if he lives and his victims die. This is not fair.
In like manner, in employing our death penalty, we are exercising the victim’s right of self-defense, that is, to kill the assailant instead of being killed, which the assailant prevented the victim from doing. That the assailant should be executed is a no-brainer, from this standpoint. The assailant should have already been dead. This would have been fair.
Otherwise there is no real right of self-defense, as the assailant can get away with avoiding it, if we do not effect it. Keeping the assailant in prison is not self-defense.
Likewise, we cannot let Saddam get away with it, also because he will kill again. We are prophylactically exercising the potential victims’ right of self-defense, which Saddam would have denied them.
Why, therefore, should we imply that future murderers can get away with it in the case of our system? Only if we do not believe in self-defense, which we do apparently believe in in the case of Saddam.
Why should we employ the principle of self-defense in the case of Saddam, but not in the case of our own victims of murder? Why are the rights of the still living favored over the rights of those now dead?
I believe that many relative/friends of murder victims wish the victims’ right of self-defense be completed. Can’t we at least do this for them [victims and relative/friends]? Can’t we support self-defense, not only in cases like Saddam’s?
Now,I am going to comment again, because I know Totten has a very insightful way to present and analyze issues. It’s called thinking for yourself, from a basis which is your own. I have seen this.
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