Ron Paul has written a very good piece regarding the death penalty. I will begin with his conclusion:
Until the death penalty is abolished, we will have neither a free nor a moral society.
As I have developed in libertarian thought, I have moved away from acceptance of the death penalty. I would say that I agree with every word written by Dr. Paul in this piece, but “every” is always a dangerous word; so let’s just says I agree with virtually every word.
He wrote a very interesting paragraph; I will break it up into bite-sized pieces:
As strong as the practical arguments against the death penalty are, the moral case is much stronger.
This paragraph comes right before the conclusion; a good portion of what precedes the paragraph examines the practical arguments: the death penalty is an expensive undertaking; pretty much everything that government touches isn’t run well (think TSA and a 95% failure rate).
But it is the moral case that interests me – and it is a moral case that is accepted within every major religious tradition and also within the non-aggression principle: the right to (call it “ownership of” if you like) my life, to be free from coercion. The Golden Rule (although I like the application of the Silver Rule, personally).
Since it is impossible to develop an error-free death penalty system, those who support the death penalty are embracing the idea that the government should be able to execute innocent people for the “greater good.”
This is the sentence that struck me. This is precisely what is accepted by a good portion of the American population when it comes to the myriad overseas adventures since 911…and Vietnam…and World War Two…and…well, you get it.
It is the idea that makes “collateral damage” acceptable; the idea that allows unthinking people to spout off “war is hell” as a get-out-of-jail-free card for every evil conceivable to man.
Carpet bombing Dresden; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; fire-bombing Tokyo; napalm; starvation sanctions; drone strikes on wedding parties. It’s all good because probably at least one person who got it was maybe thinking about doing something really bad in the future.
The idea that the government should be able to force individuals to sacrifice their right to life for imaginary gains in personal safety is even more dangerous to liberty than the idea that the government should be able to force individuals to sacrifice their property rights for imaginary gains in economic security.
I agree: war is the issue for libertarians.