John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 23:00:54 -0800 (PST)


"den Otter" <otter@globalxs.nl> On Tue, 10 Mar 1998 Wrote:

>Just out of curiosity: why do you object to painful capital
>punishment? Wouldn't it be more logical (and fair) to match the
>punisment to the crime?

I don't think it's logical because fairness is a useless concept in this
context. A man becomes evil because of his genes or his environment or
perhaps some random fluctuation in his brain, this in no way excuses his
actions because it doesn't matter why he's a monster, he's still a monster
and must be dealt with to ensure he doesn't commit more evil. However, the
"balancing the books" meme that sees virtue in the suffering of other people
is pointless, a relic of Christian mythology about hell, " God is good and
if it's OK for him to burn people for eternity then it must be OK to torture
somebody I don't like for a few days before I kill him, God seems to enjoy it
and I do too". Such ideas belong on the ash heap of history.

That's the logical reason, but I have another reason and it's is purely
emotional and therefore much more powerful. I simply become unhappy when I
see another living thing in pain, and if I'm the cause of that pain then I'm
even more unhappy. I don't claim there is any profound significance in my
attitude, it's just the way my brain is wired.

>By the way, what would the rationale be against corporal punishment
>for violent but non-lethal crimes?

I see insurmountable practical problems because I don't see how you could get
the calibration right. Even if they commit the exact same crime, a 25 year
old 300 pound Olympic weight lifter and a 82 year old 89 pound grandmother
can not receive the same corporal punishment. You'd end up killing some
people for minor crimes and giving virtually no punishment to others who
commit major ones.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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