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.
"It’s all good because probably at least one person who got it was maybe thinking about doing something really bad in the future."ReplyDelete
Collateral damage always seems justified on the other side of the world, out of sight and mind, with no sympathetic connection to the voters. Would the neocons and neocrats embrace an invasion and occupation of this country, with tens of thousands of innocents dead, so long as the goals of of some foreign country - or intergovernmental organization sporting a majority vote on the action - sounded lofty enough?
“The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.” ― Aldous Huxley
What if we change the burden of proof from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "certain" and limited the death penalty only to those who pulled the trigger - actually did the killing? Isn't a country without a death penalty just cowardly and immoral?ReplyDelete
The killer, now in prison, is no longer threatening anyone. There is no self-defense involved in initiating this harm.Delete
Or if you want to speak in Biblical morals, life is God's to take.
1. Legally, "certain" is harder to prove than "beyond a reasonable doubt." It is actually close to impossible. Add in scientific and/or technical complications and you approach the asymptote of "never" very quickly. Further, add in the fallacy of "equality before the rule of law" and then consider the hellish world you'd be living in.Delete
2. "Isn't a country WITH a death penalty just cowardly and immoral?" See what I did there? This still does not prove or justify why a private party cannot do something, but a state actor or actors can? How is that action magically made legitimate? "Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote."
NAP is a guideline and its ridged application will get to the absurd even faster as a rule. Some people for some acts just need killing. Certain is certain. 20 people in the store saw him kill the clerk then they jumped and held the gunman until the police came. And the store cameras caught the whole thing. The killer was on parole for his last murder.Delete
How about the jerk on camera who just killed the 9 blacks in church?
How about the NAP applied to the black man who spent 42 YEARS in solitary. NAP applied with diligence to prevent further harm.
I suppose that as long as the prison building is donated for this purpose, rather than taken by force by the state, and the guards are volunteers and the food the prisoners consume, as well as the clothes they wear, are donated, we can keep them in such a prison without violating the NAP.ReplyDelete
I honestly cannot see all of the above happening.
Do you really believe that in an NAP-respecting society they would not find a way to voluntarily fund a method to segregate those deemed dangerous, or otherwise punish those of violations?Delete
I really can't imagine it. Look, if praxeology teaches us anything it's that people will do what they want to do, that is what is highest marginal utility. I can imagine people wanting to confine mentally ill people who are dangerous to themselves and others, and paying voluntarily to do so, out of sympathy with their illness.Delete
I can't imagine people shelling out wealth to house murderers and rapists. There's no sympathy for people like that.
People never think about the importance of culture in the transference of knowledge anymore, especially the long-term pitfalls of unintended consequences. People often forget that the smallest polity is the family and for many centuries it was tasked with, and successfully managed, imparting civility on its, usually voluntary, participants. People also forget that marginal utility calculations take into account spiritual and ethical considerations. It's thoughts like these that make me wonder about the on-going destruction of culture and family in the West. Cui bono? Oh ya, the people with the solutions to natural complexity: the 18th century technocrats and their guillotine.Delete
"Oh ya, the people with the solutions to natural complexity: the 18th century technocrats and their guillotine."Delete
Heh, too true. The Jacobins and their final solutions will forever be drawn to governments. When, if ever, will society drop the envious waiting game and stop listening to them? Maybe our culture is becoming more individualistic as we each form our preferences in this information age, but tradition needs to diminish since it seems to me to be a trump card for governments.
I presume Libertarians are all about restitution and not punishment due to pacifism. Namely if you use violence to solve your problems then you're no better than the criminals. Hence a Libertarian would suppose you can use violence to protect in sheer self-defence during the crime however to use violence after the crime is a criminal act in itself.Delete
You presume too much and understand very little.Delete
All thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs. Homer Simpson taught me that.
In a system of law where the victim determines the punishment of the criminal, the death penalty would need to exist, but would probably be rarely carried out. Why would the victims of a murderer (that is, those dependent on the killed person) prefer to kill him rather than allow him to negotiate his death penalty down to blood money?ReplyDelete
By the same token, one could also state:ReplyDelete
Since it is impossible to develop a safe vaccine program, those who support a mandatory vaccine program are embracing the idea that the government should be able to kill and injure innocent people for the “greater good.”
What if you live in a hopelessly lawless, probably violent, society that needs to be reigned in very quickly through extreme negative incentives for bad behavior?ReplyDelete
I would move.Delete
Where? I live in a society that is systematically extinguishing personal freedom, personal and real property rights, and minority thought and opinion. Yet it is the best this world has to offer.Delete
TomO, if you are referring to the US or almost any other western country or almost any other developed country, the description in the question above does not apply to you.Delete
If you do NOT live in one of these places, you can certainly move to one of these places.
Try having lived in between Hitler and Stalin; try having lived in Turkey during the Armenian Genocide, or Vietnam during decades of war, or Communist China.
Almost no one in the western or developed world has any idea of what "hopelessly lawless" truly means.
In the absolute sense, the United States is, as I hope was clear, still laudable. However, the trend line is concerning. We’re rather near the tipping point of depending on a munificent leader as opposed to institutional rights. More worrisome is that the populace is eager to trade freedom for “security”.Delete
I read history. Your point is taken.