Friday, May 02, 2014


Arminian doyen Roger Olson, that beacon of clarity in a morally gray world, has once again voiced his opposition to the death penalty, using "botched" executions as one justification:
I'll make a few observations:
i) Although I don't think the state should torture murderers to death (not that a "botched" execution qualifies as torture), if the execution accidentally turns out to be painful for a vicious killer, I consider that a bonus point. 
ii) I've often thought the best way to punish a vicious killer is to turn him over to the family of the victim. If he's undoubtedly guilty, let the family of the victim punish him. "He's all yours!"
I suspect the murder rate would drop if prospective murders knew the family of the victim was going to mete out justice. 
iii) I think bleeding-heart opponents of the death penalty should have to stay overnight in the cell of the vicious killers who evoke their empathy.
Death-penalty opponents are just as sociopathic as the sociopathic killers for whom they empathize. For them, the victim or the victim's family is just an abstraction. They have no real compassion for the victim or his family. LIke a classic sociopath, it isn't real to them if it happens to someone else. It's only real to them if someone does it to them. 
iv) The reason we have death by lethal injection in the first place is because death-penalty opponents whined about how cruel other forms of execution were. But there's no pleasing them. If you accede to their demands by replacing other forms of execution with lethal injection, you are conceding to them the principle that there's something inherently cruel and barbaric about execution, so the best we can do is to mitigate that. But at that point you already lost the argument. It's a mistake to appease them in the first place.
v) I suspect many death penalty opponents are cynical. Because they are convinced that capital punishment is evil, they knowingly resort to bad arguments to attack it. They don't care. Because they think capital punishment is immoral, that justifies any argument, any pretext, however lame, you can use against it.
vi) In the case of other opponents, because they think capital punishment is evil, that disarms their critical sense. They have no incentive to stop and consider whether their arguments are any good. 
vii) Incidentally, this reflects a larger trend in contemporary American society. Increasingly, liberals don't even maintain the pretense of applying a uniform standard to everyone. They really think there should be one standard for their kind of people, and a different standard for their opponents.
Take the IRS targeting the Tea Party. That elicited a collective yawn from the Left. They think the Tea Party is evil, so if the IRS targeted the Tea Party, it was getting its comeuppance. Of course, if the tables were turned on them, they'd scream bloody murder, but not because they believe the IRS should be impartial. 
Same thing with the increasing disregard for the Constitution. They don't believe in a uniform standard for everyone concerned. Rather, they believe in one standard for the good guys (themselves), and a different standard for the bad guys (their political or religious opponents). 
For them, freedom of speech (to take one example) should only protect the right kind of speech. Their speech. Not the speech of their ideological adversaries. 
Same thing with "hate crimes" and protected classes. They openly embrace a double standard. 
We're reverting to primitive tribal morality where the only code of conduct is loyalty to members of the in-group. There are no ethical inhibitions in how you treat outsiders. Increasingly, their social mores approximate the Viking code of honor in the History Channel drama. 


  1. "The reason we have death by lethal injection in the first place is because death-penalty opponents whined about how cruel other forms of execution were."

    This is so true. I merely point out that other forms of execution also, to the horror of opponents of the death penalty, actually look like the death penalty. Lethal injection looks like we are putting a dog to sleep. Like it is some kind of of medical necessity that we take the criminal's life. Also, I dare say, other forms of execution actually respect the criminal's humanity more than lethal injection. Standing up and facing a firing squad or the gallows seems to me to show more respect to the criminal and let him recover something of his humanity by taking his just punishment standing there. They also deliver the message more effectively that those who murder forfeit their own life.

  2. "Botched" execution reminds me of the exchange in the Green Mile (edited due to language):

    Hal: Okay, boys, what happened?
    Paul: An execution. A successful one.
    Hal: How can you call that a success?
    Paul: Eduard Delacroix IS dead.

    In any case, assuming that the botched execution being referenced is the one for Clayton Lockett, I have no sympathy at all. He shot a woman and then buried while she was still alive, and that's not even counting the other crimes he did (such as raping her roommate and robbing the house). Her death took much longer than his, and I doubt he was even cognizant of what was going on whereas she probably was. So Olson might do better to actually pick sympathetic characters before he tries to moralize.

  3. If swift and painless is the goal, bring back the guillotine. Efficient, too.