September 29, 2011
RADLEY BALKO: WHY AMERICANS STILL SUPPORT THE DEATH PENALTY.
I think it’s because tedious liberals self-righteously oppose it, while showing an appalling insensitivity to the lives (and deaths) of ordinary non-criminal Americans. Though I should note that European citizens also support the death penalty in large numbers — they’re just ignored by their leaders. The best argument against the death penalty, of course, is what Charles Black called “the inevitability of caprice and mistake.” But that argument, taken seriously, is an indictment of the entire criminal-justice system, not just the death penalty. It may be a valid indictment, but few are willing to go that far.
The worst argument against the death penalty, of course, is that it’s somehow awful for the state to kill people. Nation-states are all about killing people. They exist solely because they’re better at that, on a large scale, than any other form of human organization. Everything else is superstructure, and if they lose that edge it will fade away.