10 October, 2006

And If My Grandmother Had Wheels She'd Be A Wagon

Today is World Day Against The Death Penalty. And apparently, as the argument goes, we should be so eager to fit in with The Cool Countries that we should get rid of our own backwards death penalty.
Let's remember, the U.S. is the only Western democracy that uses the death penalty. If we were a European country, we would not be allowed to join the European Union because of our country's violations of human rights (aka our use of the death penalty).

Fine reasoning, TCASK blogger! Although I might add that if we were a European country there would likely be no European Union, as there would have been no "us" to come late to the party that was WWII. While I think it's fine that those folks (who turned a blind eye to summary executions for a long time) have decided that the death penalty is a violation of human rights, they don't live here. The fact that the E.U. idea of rights is a little bit more dictatorial than what we like over here should be taken into account. Check out, especially, the E.U. stance on "free" trade.

Of course, a lot of people, my favorite Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia included, will say that other countries don't get to write America's laws.

You're catching on!

But I wonder how legitimate our calls for respect for human rights around the world sound to people in England or Germany where they consider the use of the death penalty a human rights violation.

Yes, this is quite clearly the first time we will have a difference of opinion with England and Germany about what exactly constitutes human rights. I'm less concerned about the opinions of England and Germany in this type of situation. Neither nation is faced with the exact same catalogue of issues as the United States. And while we're at it, I'm quite concerned about the vast scope of privacy violations in England. But I can't go over and tell them to take down their vast network of municiple cameras.

My main complaint with the discussion of the death penalty is that opponants of the United States' Death Penalty frame it as a "human rights violation." It is not a violation. In order for the death penalty to be a violation of human rights, it would have to be imposed not as a penalty but as a summary execution. Shooting people in the head because of their race or religion or regional overpopulation is a summary execution.

In the United States the Death Penalty is imposed only after conviction of a worthy offense. It is more correctly termed a "human rights relinquishment". Every citizen of the United States is granted the Human Rights protection of the Constitution and the various state governments. But if you violate that contract, you relinquish your rights.

Other countries lack the free association protections of our constitution, and therefore do not require the death penalty. That's their business. Our business is our own.

If you wish to fight the Death Penalty from within the system, I wish you all the best. I think that's a fine idea. But don't think that "World Anti-Death Penalty" day and other such lemming arguments hold much sway.


At 2:59 PM, October 10, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

When I start a new project at work, I usually start by looking at what others in the field are doing. Seeing what's "in," what's good and what's bad, weighing the merits of those decisions and combining that with my thoughts and ideas seems to be the intelligent thing to do.

I've never understood why the same doesn't apply to law. Other countries don't write laws for the US, but to outright refuse to consider the merits of the decisions they made on basis of "well they're just not us" dips well into range of dangerous arrogance.

At 3:20 PM, October 10, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...


All due respect, but speaking from experience I can say that graphic design is not the same as crafting a governing body of laws.

That being said, how do you think we arrived at our Constitution? Our Bill of Rights? The authors took bits and pieces from other governments and other philosophers. It isn't as though we grew our laws as mushrooms--in the dark and out of manure.

The E.U. is a comparatively new community, with an entirely different philosophy of government. Following their cue on the death penalty is a very dangerous precedent.

At 8:10 AM, October 11, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

Blindly following anything is a dangerous precedent but is simply considering alternate viewpoints?


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