The capital punishment debate is back. If Guido Fawkes can collect 100,000 signatures for an e-petition, politicians will be forced to debate it in Parliament. James Garry puts forward the case in support of its reintroduction.
I support capital punishment and I am pleased to see that, via the endeavours of the blogger Guido Fawkes, the debate has returned to the public forum. Mine is already one of the signatures on the e-petition on capital punishment debated in Parliament – not that I think the politicians will deviate from their liberal-left consensus to hear what they public want (they are too busy squandering money abroad either by giving money to people overseas or obliterating them with expensive bombs). Indeed, the petition is an impotent gesture as we would need to abandon the European Union before reintroducing the death penalty could seriously be considered. With Cast Iron Dave at the helm, there’s fat chance of quitting the EU.
Nonetheless, this is the first time since the subject has reached such prominence in a long time; I have longed for the opportunity to discuss it. So here we find ourselves.
Let me begin by saying that I oppose abortion and euthanasia (my views on abortion can be found here and my views on euthanasia here). I believe there is some consistency and correlation between those who oppose abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. All three constitute the termination – the killing – of human life.
How can I make a distinction between two types of killing and a third? Easy. I do not think abortion and euthanasia are in any way similar to capital punishment. Capital punishment is the execution of someone guilty of a heinous crime (or crimes) who consciously, deliberately chose to commit acts of evil and made their victim and victim’s family suffer. Their guilt must be determined by a jury of dispassionate peers.
Abortion and euthanasia involve the killing of innocent people. The innocent must not be executed whether they elect to (euthanasia) or whether they cannot (abortion). There is no jury to acquit an unborn baby of the “crime” of being imperfect or inconvenient. The murder of the innocent must never be tolerated or excused. Our concern must always be for the innocent.
For the record, I support capital punishment for all types of murder (all those cleverclogs who think they’re going to catch me out for condoning state murder: hold your horses), for violent, menacing rapes, for child abuse and for drug dealing.
I expect most people who support capital punishment would agree to the execution of murderers, rapists and child abusers; they might disagree with my inclusion of drug dealers. I stand with Simon Heffer in his admiration of the Chinese who take the drug dealers out the back and send a swift bullet into the backs of their heads. Except I would hang them. Hanging is more poetic – and more poetically just – than shooting, electrocuting or injecting fatal poisons. This is not insignificant: The offender should feel as though the cosmos has caught up with him. The noose. The drop. The blackness. The end.
It is sometimes said, in criticism of capital punishment, that a state that practices capital punishment is hypocritical because it commits the very same act it disapproves of. Is it hypocritical? And so what if it is?
To those who say that capital punishment is the state murdering… Well, states murder. This is unavoidable. When our police force arms itself, it does so in the knowledge that it may shoot someone dead. As far as I know, there has never been a demonstration against state execution via the police’s use of guns. States murder when they go to war. They murder indiscriminately; the lives of the innocent are collateral damage. At least when the state murders a capital offender they are murdering the guilty. That the “state murders” is no good argument.
Yes, sometimes the innocent die. I hear would-be capital punishment supporters espouse the Portillo Formulation: I would support capital punishment if there was a 100% chance that an innocent person would not be hanged. Well, there is no 100% guarantee that an innocent person won’t be hanged because all human systems are imperfect. I am prepared to accept the risk that occasionally – very occasionally – an innocent person may be wrongfully hanged.
We take such risks all the time but these risks do not stop us. Every time we board a plane there is a danger it will drop out of the sky. Every time we cross a road there is a danger we will be hit by a car. These risks do not stop us flying in planes or walking down the street. In life we cannot avoid the hazard of accidental death. Capital punishment is no different. The “wrong man” argument is no argument at all.
As for the lex talionis argument, I do not see how capital punishment does satisfy revenge. Wouldn’t it be more vengeful to let a murder live, but live in extreme anguish, being tortured, for the rest of his life? Executing a capital offender does not redress the loss suffered by the victims of hangable offences. Seeing the perpetrator in perpetual, excruciating agony for the rest of his life would be more satisfying, I’d imagine. No, capital punishment does not even begin to satisfy the lust for revenge and retribution.
Besides, if we leave our capital offenders to waste away in prison, because of the nature of their crimes they are likely to be tortured, either because their crimes repulse other convicts or because they are banged up with convicts as nasty as they are; convicts who wouldn’t hesitate to drive a felt-tip pens into their eyeballs or go for their jugulars with broken coffee jars.
Hanging capital offenders is the most humane option all round.
I do not “buy” the retribution argument. Neither do I “buy” the cost-effectiveness argument. Yes, capital punishment is cheaper than prison. I do not care. To place economics ahead of morality would make us as confused and cretinous as Ken Clarke. The moral argument cannot be won financially.
The reason I support the death penalty is because it is a highly successful deterrent. We know it deters crimes. In the five years that the death penalty was suspended between 1965 and 1970 there was a 125% increase in crimes that would have attracted the death penalty. One hundred and twenty five percent. Since the last hangings in 1964 , unlawful killings have almost doubled from 0.68 per 100,000 to 1.42 per 100,000. Capital punishment works. In Singapore the death penalty successfully deters the most horrific crimes because Singapore applies the death penalty unfalteringly. Capital offenders know exactly what their fates will be.
We must reintroduce capital punishment as a deterrent. Ignore the bleeding-heart liberals. The bleeding-heart liberals anger me. Fifty years of sociological thinking and they believe that perpetrators of crime must themselves be seen as victims – that they deserve explanations, excuses, even sympathy. I think many people who have attended university – the hothouse of 1960’s thinking – do not even realise they perceive crime sociologically.
Well, let me say this to them: Remember Baby Peter: found dead and blue in his cot wearing only a nappy. The tips of his fingers had been cut off and his nails pulled out with pliers. A baby.
And let me ask them this: Do you think it is inconceivable that the threat of execution would have forced Baby Peter’s mother, Tracey Connelly and her similarly sadistic, sick boyfriends, to think twice before subjecting their child to that sort of abuse and that sort of death? Is it not inconceivable – even to the sociologically minded – that Baby Peter might have been saved?
And let me ask them one further question: Don’t you think it is probably that the threat of execution would prevent other would-be sadists from raping and murdering children? You must admit this is a likely benefit of capital punishment. And if you still put the murderer’s or the rapist’s rights or feelings or families above that of an abused, murdered child – then shame on you.
Reintroduce capital punishment and the lives of the innocent and the gentle will be safer and happier. Fail to reintroduce capital and the guilty will continue to act murderously, sadistically and cruelly with impunity.