Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dylann Roof, Capital Punishnent, And Principle



The anti capital punishment barricades.

National Post journalist Robert J. Wiersema's visit back to Mailer's outstanding Executioner's Song, bidding fair to be Mailer's greatest work, greater than any of his unreadable novels, greater than Armies Of The Night, transcending his self obsessed self promotion and chaotically unruly and made-loudly-public personal life, raises in my mind a fascinating question in light of the upcoming execution of the horrid Dylann Roof.  

In Executioner's Song, so much of the literary greatness comes in this contrast: the plain, flat, declarative, unvarnished prose as befits Western Voices, in rendering the prosaic place from where Gary Gilmore springs; and the page turning account of the frenzied Eastern Voices, all journalistic hustle and last minute legal bustle as Mailer brilliantly unfolds the compelling drama of the attempt to stave off the  execution by the anti capitalpunishmentists.

There must be those now equally committed to what they claim is the anachronistic barbarity of state sanctioned murder. Will there be an equally fervent effort to save Roof's life? Will the principle of their cause stand beyond the universally felt horror of what he's done?

If there are those who fight for saving his life on principled grounds, I salute them.

But my supposition is there will be nothing like the groundswell for commutation or overturning the death sentence as there was for Gilmore.

Why not? 

My speculation is that here, if I'm right in what I expect, here, where the horror is principle's sternest test, political correctness will trump principle. 

For myself, I had long ago rejected capital punishment on moral principle, then came through a certain journey in my head to argue for it for certain crimes so horrendous that only the most awe inspiring punishment would salve the retributive urge, which urge forms one of the policy pillars of criminal law sentencing law. But then I became persuaded that the frailties and mistakes in verdicts based on uncertain evidence made abolition necessary on a cost benefit basis rather than strictly on the principled ground of the sheer immorality of the state taking a life, a ground I no longer subscribe to.

In the case of Roof though, I say throw him to the hounds of hell. Functionally his case raises no issues that underlie why I oppose capital punishment.

But for those who object to capital punishment on pure moral ground, I await your efforts.

No comments:

Post a Comment