The impending execution of the D.C. sniper has me thinking about capital punishment. I feel morally uneasy about the death penalty when I consider it in the abstract. Yet I am almost indifferent to the question whether it achieves a deterrent effect that life imprisonment would not achieve. To the extent I support the death penalty, it is because I believe that retribution is a legitimate, even essential, part of punishment, and that for certain crimes death is the only meet retribution. This is one such case, given that the guilt of the accused is not in question and the murders were particularly cold-blooded. Regardless of whether most people would agree with that position, I think most people do believe—or perhaps simply feel—that retribution is essential to punishment. Simply ask them whether they would favor a system that, rather than imprisoning criminals, sent them to a tropical resort while achieving a deterrent effect by means of a propaganda campaign that tricked the public into thinking they were in a chain gang somewhere. If you object that this would not deter recidivism, I will modify the example and say: Let us imagine that the convicts, upon leaving their island paradise, are administered some drug that permanently overrides their criminal impulses but does not otherwise alter their personalities. The example is of course outlandish, but the point is that we could imagine an arrangement that would achieve all the desirable effects of the current penal system while not inflicting any retribution upon criminals—and I would find such an arrangement not simply unsatisfying, but unjust.
Well, we all knew it wouldn’t last. Weeks after two different Ninth Circuit panels surprisingly upheld Second Amendment rights by blocking California’s confiscation of large-capacity magazines and Hawaii’s ban on open carry, the nation’s most progressive circuit returned to form. In a ruling earlier this ... Read More
Trumpism is sometimes derided as an updated know-nothingism that rejects expertise and the input of credentialed expertise. Supposedly, professionals who could now save us tragically have their talent untapped as they sit idle at the Council on Foreign Relations, the economics Department at Harvard, or in the ... Read More
After eight years of displeasure with Barack Obama’s presidency, Carla Johnson was ready for a drastic change. The 41-year-old lab technician from Cresco, Iowa, fell for Donald Trump very early in the 2016 primary season. She loved his “take-no-[sh**]” style, his conservative stances on gun control and ... Read More
Let’s take a short walk down memory lane. Not long ago, on January 2, 2016, a small group of armed protesters seized an unoccupied federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located in a relatively isolated area in eastern Oregon, and the occupied building itself was far from any ... Read More
People are making this so complicated. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times editorial board hired a technology writer, Sarah Jeong. When it was revealed that she had tweeted barbs against white people, conservatives formed a Twitter mob to demand her dismissal. While a few on the right said — or claimed ... Read More