Monday, July 12, 2004

Bdos: Euros would just imprison Saddam

Saddam Hussein is never mentioned at all; however, he is as the ghost at the feast mocking the pronouncements of Nick Pyle, the British High Commissioner to Barbados. Pyle articulates the European view that no acts or circumstances justify the death penalty, which his government regards as cruel and inhumane.

The article begins with a sweeping assertion that is idiotic on the face of it. "No credible academic study has ever proven that the death penalty is a real deterrent to serious crime.” What are the standards which determine whether or not the study is credible? Is it the political orientation of the scholar, or is it the statistics attesting to the number of murders committed by killers who have been executed? Or is it the statistics compiled on the number of murders committed by killers in places which have an active implementation of the death penalty -- as opposed to those with a more laissez-faire attitude towards it?

What is the death penalty actually supposed to deter? Is it intended to deter the one who receives it or those who follow in his footsteps? If the death penalty is intended to deter the killer, then it is a perfect deterrent when it is implemented. For, the man who is put to death for his gross murders can no longer be freed or escape to kill again. The execution of Ted Bunday and John Wayne Gacy guarantees that neither will kill again.

If the death penalty is intended to deter his imitators, then one may not gauge its success as a deterrent inasmuch as so many killers remain on death row for decades before having their sentence either reduced to life by judges and governors or tossed out on some technicality. Confronted with such a non-implementation of death penalty policy, it is no wonder that the possibility of receiving the death penalty deters no-one. When, in a empirical example, one considers the reaction to murders committed in the state of Texas, which has an active death penalty policy, then one understands that the possibility exists that active implementation may deter.

Could not a life sentence without the possbility of parole have done the same? Probably. However, with a life sentence, the possibility of escape or of freedom because of some technicality of the law still exists, especially when a prisoner vigorously pursues any and all means to get his conviction overthrown. For, there are enough liberal judges out there who would let a serial killer walk on a technicality. Inasmuch as a life sentence without possibly of parole may not be fully effective means of stopping killers, then one is assured that the death penalty is. For, in this life, there are no Frankensteins to revivify murderers.

So, then what about the possibility of innocent men being wrongfully executed? That may well happen, and it is regrettable. However, the forensic technology that is availabe to criminologists today reduce the probability of such error occurring. Furthermore, forensics is not a static field, but is continually evolving so that much of this new technology can and ought to be applied to the evidentiary matter of pending death row convicts to determine their guilt or innocence -- providing that the evidence still exists. Therefore, in a world of increasingly advanced forensic knowledge, it is an absurdity to take the death penalty off of the table because of some Pollyanna squeamishness.

In support of his argument on this point, Pyle quotes the venerable Kofi Annan that "[t]he forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process.” Pyle also adds this gem, “[i]f we are to look at the wider picture, we believe that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. This is in everyone’s interest."

How is it in the interests of society not to punish crime fittingly? Pyle does not say. What is clear is that in the eyes of both Annan and Pyle, forensic evidence, no matter its increasing accuracy, is no basis for upholding the law. In fact, the relativist attitude to the punishment of crime is itself reason for not upholding the law. Such is their argument.

The irony is that Annan's words in this context ignore the deeds of killers which earned them the death penalty. The sensibility that animates the anti-death penalty crowd is not shared by the murderers who do everything to evade meet recompense for their sins. One can imagine Josef Stalin (and other of his communist fellows), Adolf Hitler, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, and their peers uttering such mealy-mouthed pieties as Annan's, "[t]he forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process.” Would that they had; they world would be richer for it.

While Pyle argues for the "abolition of the death penalty" as contributing to "the enhancement of human dignity," again, the irony is that no one has concerns for the "human dignity" of the victims who received the ultimate insult at the hands of now-protected killers.

In the world articulated by Annan, Pyle and those of their Euro-mindset, the only rights that are of paramount importance are those of the killers. The victims have no rights. The "forfeiture of [their] life is too absolute, too irreversible" for states to concern themselves with preserving the dignity of the victim and defending his violently wrested away right to life. Therefore, the Kurds gassed at Halabja and the thousands in the mass graves all over Iraq are of no moment in the quest to preserve the "human dignity" of Saddam Hussein.

In sum, when either man speaks of human rights, it is apparent that they refer not to victims, but to killers. Such a philosophical bent clarifies the position the U.N. and the Euros have taken on genocide around the world. Weep not for the violently dead; for, they are already dead. Let us ignore how they became dead and concern ourselves with ensuring the "human dignity" of their killers.


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