Ross Douthat, NYT Asshat Columnist and alleged Human Being writes in today's Gray Lady:
Abolishing capital punishment in a kind of despair over its fallibility would send a very different message. It would tell the public that our laws and courts and juries are fundamentally incapable of delivering what most Americans consider genuine justice. It could encourage a more cynical and utilitarian view of why police forces and prisons exist, and what moral standards we should hold them to. And while it would put an end to wrongful executions, it might well lead to more overall injustice.
So let me get this straight... If we abolish the death penalty because we don't want to be executing the innocent, then people will lose faith in the judicial system as opposed to just executing the innocent because that will somehow generate confidence in our courts?
And while we're on the subject, what "more overall injustice" are you envisioning as a result of our abolishing capital punishment? What are the moral imperatives you see as the being worth the life of the innocent?
Further up in the article, Douthat makes a curious assertion:
The argument that capital punishment is inherently immoral has long been a losing one in American politics. But in the age of DNA evidence and endless media excavations, the argument that courts and juries are just too fallible to be trusted with matters of life and death may prove more effective.
I think it is telling that apparently Douthat believes that while the argument from morality is a "losing one" for capital punishment opponents, that court's inherent fallibility is a more promising one. Does he really not understand that the fallible nature of human judgment is a moral argument? Or is he really that intellectually corrupt and/or morally bankrupt?
Yes, I am not completly thick, I get that even with a "perfect" system that never makes mistakes, capital punishment is still immoral. But for me, as a matter of pragmatism, the ethics involved with entrusting capital punishment to an overtly fallible system is also a moral issue, and the pressing one here.
And the part that gets me is that he admits that the death penalty is broken and that people are being sent to death row wrongly.
But that's okay, because:
Fundamentally, most Americans who support the death penalty do so because they want to believe that our justice system is just, and not merely a mechanism for quarantining the dangerous in order to keep the law-abiding safe.
As an aside, he uses this reasoning as the cap stone for when he wonders off into no-man's land, trying to convince us that executing more prisoners and faster is actually more humane because our prison system has become so inhuman and brutal.
So we will alleviate the problems of the prison system and incarceration culture by just killing our prisoners more quickly.
The barely disguised stench of bloodlust is fairly overpowering, here. Yet, we have just another example of the weakness of most conservative thought. Inflexibility.
Even when demonstrably wrongheaded and unreasonable, there is no limit to the types of choke holds, arm bars and joint locks they will put their rhetoric through, up to and including just making shit up out of whole cloth, to support a point of view.
If there was any doubt that the modern conservative movement is fundamentally unAmerican, just look at how people like Douthat excuse government abuse even as they bloviate at the top of their lungs how much they disdain and distrust government.
But when it comes to the ultimate government power, the ability to take the life of a citizen, well that's just fine, and hey if a few innocent get taken along the way, well, that's okay.
No, really, it's better that way for everyone because at least they can sleep well knowing that if we execute as many people as possible, the guilty will probably be executed too... for something they did... at some point...