Jewish World Review May 7, 2014 / 7 Iyar, 5774
Clayton Lockett: A just execution, regardless
By Jonah Goldberg
Last week the state of
Botched is the accepted term in the media coverage, despite the fact
Obama's position was a perfectly defensible straddle: "The individual ... had committed heinous crimes, terrible crimes, and I've said in the past that there are certain circumstances where a crime is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate."
On the other hand, Obama added: "I've also said that in the application of the death penalty ... we have seen significant problems, racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to be innocent.
"I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions."
As a death penalty supporter, I agree. Although, I'm not sure we'd agree on what those questions -- and answers -- should be.
As for Lockett, he was entitled to a relatively painless and humane execution under the law. As for what he deserved in the cosmic sense, I suspect he got off easy.
He and his accomplices abducted two teenage girls (as well as a man and his baby). One of them,
Let's get back to those difficult and profound questions. Capital punishment opponents offer many arguments why people like Lockett shouldn't be executed. They point out that there are racial disparities in how the death penalty is administered, for example. This strikes me as an insufficient argument, much like the deterrence argument from death penalty supporters. Deterrence may have some validity, but it alone cannot justify the death penalty. It is wrong to kill a man just to send a message to others.
Likewise, Lockett, who was black, wasn't less deserving of punishment simply because some white rapist and murderer didn't get his just punishment.
The most cynical argument against the death penalty is to point out how slow and expensive the process is. But it is slow and expensive, at least in part because opponents have made it slow and expensive, so they can complain about how slow and expensive it is.
As for humaneness, Lockett's execution was botched -- "inhumane" -- in part because
Some believe the best argument against the death penalty is the fear that an innocent person might be executed. It's hotly debated whether that has ever happened, but it's clear that innocent people have been sent to death row. Even one such circumstance is outrageous and unacceptable.
But even that is not an argument against the death penalty per se. The
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