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Volokh Jumps the Shark
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Via Alex Knapp, I see that law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh has come out in favor of torturing and executing prisoners in duly grisly fashion.

Something the Iranian Government and I Agree on:

I particularly like the involvement of the victims' relatives in the killing of the monster; I think that if he'd killed one of my relatives, I would have wanted to play a role in killing him. Also, though for many instances I would prefer less painful forms of execution, I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging. The one thing that troubles me (besides the fact that the murderer could only be killed once) is that the accomplice was sentenced to only 15 years in prison, but perhaps there's a good explanation.

I am being perfectly serious, by the way. I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness. I think it slights the burning injustice of the murders, and the pain of the families, to react in any other way.


Knapp actually goes through the process of discussing why this is a bad idea.

At any rate, though, there are several primary reasons against torturing people to death that stick out in my mind. First is simply based on moral principles. The only moral justification for hurting and/or killing a person is either in self-defense or in defense of others. However, it is only justifiable if the killing is necessary.


Another danger involved in torturing people to death, especially with members of the victim's family doing the torturing, is that you run the risk of creating more criminals.


And probably one of the most compelling reasons, to me, is simply that we ought to set an example and aspire to something better. Yes, we may, as a society, make the decision that unfortunately, this person must die. But accomplishing that task humanely, without taking pleasure in their suffering, tells the world: "We don’t want to do this. We don't like that we have to do it. It’s a sad fact that it must be done. But we won't hurt this person and we won't make him suffer. We're neither criminals nor sadists, and we take no pleasure in the pain of others."

Yes, as someone in the comments of this post point out:

Dangerous animals need to be destroyed, but that doesn’t mean we need to make such a show of it.

Exactly. I would attempt to summarize all of Knapp's arguments a bit more succinctly: We're not fucking barbarians.

Or rather, a fundamental aspect of our character is barbaric, but our rules and organizations should try to mitigate that barbarism as much as possible. If we have to collectively use force, we should do so with regret and dispassion, not with sadism and glee.


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