Hours after Tsarnaev was sentenced to death this afternoon, noted concern troll and alleged liberal Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine tweeted out a rather warped, but entirely common, sentiment among moderates and liberals in this country: that the death penalty is terrible and racist and not good but there exist some vague, ad hoc scenario where it’s acceptable:
The death penalty is a contentious subject area all things considered. In the USA (as we all likely aware due to both news and entertainment media) criminals can still be executed, whilst here in the United Kingdom the death penalty has been abolished for ALL crimes since 1998 whilst the last actual executions were for two men convicted of Murder in 1964 (the year I was born!) The reason it took until 1998 to be abolished was, as I understand it, was the death penalty remained for crimes such as “high treason”, “espionage” or “piracy with violence”, the 1964 date being the end of the death penalty for murder.
Over the years the question of restoring the death penalty in the United Kingdom has been raised a number of times, and voted on by parliament on a number of times up until 1997. I myself have been guilty of the “hang the bastards they won’t do it again” sentiment when reading of some hideous crime in the news, be it murderers, paedophiles or whatever BUT in recent years changed my mind completely to the point of considering it should be banned globally. So obviously my perspective on this is not the same as everybody’s and I certainly don’t “sit on the fence” (that’s how you get splinters in your a**e) on the subject. I don’t care who it is or what they’ve apparently done, execution is not an option in my opinion. It could be Hannibal Lecter, Oswald Danes (a thoroughly obnoxious character), Fred West or Ian Huntley I’d still say no to execution (obviously Hannibal and Oswald aren’t real people).
For me it’s not even about “charity” or forgiveness. My reason for not believing in the death sentence is quite simple: you can’t give someone their life back. So, as it is impossible to prove, totally and utterly irrefutably 100%, someone’s guilt with no doubt whatsoever the death sentence is wrong in my opinion. Because if it turns out later we find out the person didn’t commit the crime we can’t give them their life back. For me that’s a step too far, but I gladly accept that “your mileage may vary”, in other words, your opinion may well be different. But I would point out there have been many cases, throughout history, where the wrong person has been found guilty of a crime and executed for it.