Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Swinging Both Ways On Capital Punishment
I’ve swung both ways on capital punishment.
I used to be dead set (“dead set,” get it?) for it on the ground that for heinous crimes it satisfies a public need for retribution, one of the policy pillars of criminal sentencing.
I’m still for it on that ground but given the possibility for error I on balance (“on balance,” get it?) swung away from it, reasoning that the cost of innocent human life is too great a price to pay.
I tried on the argument of reserving it for a super category of cases of proof positive but decided against that argument on the basis that any such category impugns the certainty of like heinous cases of guilty but not within that certain super category.
So that left me against capital punishment on the pragmatic ground of the cost of innocent life due to error outweighing the benefit of retribution.
But with the just-two-days-old rampage killing of 10, maiming of 15 others, some still fighting for, maybe clinging to life, with it happening in a neighborhood not far from my own and on the very street I’ve often walked and could easily have been walking, with two people I know spared death or inury by a few hair splits and now with the names and stories of the innocents trickling out, my fellow Torontonians, my rage and outrage are implacable conditions in me that need staunching.
So I’m swinging back to capital punishment on the basis that heinousness plus certainty mitigate and thus outweigh the price of the possibility of error.
Too, this guy deserves whippings before execution.