Re: Capital punishment

Mark Grant (
Sat, 21 Jun 1997 12:03:37 +0000

On Sat, 21 Jun 1997, Tony Hollick wrote:

> It is quite extraordinary that anarchists or libertarians -- of all people
> -- should endorse the death 'penalty.' All this can lead to in practice is
> assassinations and coldly calculated judicial murders by the State. Or
> lynch mobs.

Hardly; in an anarcho-capitalist society you have a choice as to whether
you subscribe to a legal system which allows capital punishment. Since
this may reduce the associated costs of the system many people probably
would. I probably wouldn't, but my decision would depend on the
difference in price.

> CIA prohibited assassinations for moral and prudential reasons which
> Richard Bissell gives in his autobiography, "Reflections of a Cold
> Warrior" [Yasle, 1996]. Not least, because it degrades policymaking with
> an 'Off with their head' modality of thought.

And because foreign leaders might then 'bring the war back home' by
killing US politicians rather than US conscripts.

> [2] It's _unnecessary_: check the murder rates country by country and
> compare them with the execution rates. Supporters would predict an iverse
> correlation: but there is none. In fact, countries with execution are
> frequently _more_ murder-prone.

Or, perhaps, more murder-prone countries are more likely to execute
criminals in an attempt to reduce the murder rate.

> Every country in Europe is safer than any
> state in the US, AFAIK.

Not true; several US states are 'safer' (in terms of lower murder rates)
than some European countries. If you're not an inner-city drug dealer then
most US states are comparable to most European countries.

> At the completion of the month, you _have_ to execute the accused _even if
> you believe they're innocent, and you'll destroy the hasppiness of others,
> perhaps deprive the world of irreplaceable talents, and be executed
> yourself into the bargain.

I suspect the Extropian approach would be to back them up prior to
execution so that you could reinstate them if you were wrong. Of course
it's far from ideal, but it's better than killing them permanently; though
a smart criminal would back themselves up before undertaking a crime just
in case they're caught.


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