Where to draw the line.

The other thing I wanted to post just before I unplug myself from the blog for the weekend relates to another round of the interminable debate on capital punishment between me, JuliaM and some of the other commenters that hang around the Ambush Predator’s cave. As usual Julia and others take the view that sometimes capital punishment is justified because the world has got some proper fucking scumbags in it, while others oppose for various reasons while conceding that there are indeed some scumbags, but it’s the fact that the state itself is the biggest bullying scumbag of them all that is the reason why I’m personally against putting that power back into its hands. I was going to copy and paste the arguments I made at Julia’s and edit them a little to make a quick post on it here but really there’s nothing much I didn’t say in this blog back in May last year. In short, the state has a habit of granting itself powers and abusing them before you can even say, ‘Hey, I’m just a photographer, leave me alo-aaargh,’ and with that in mind how can we trust that the same mission creep would never be applied to capital punishment? Even if you trust the current crop of politicians you can never be certain that will always be the case. As I said at Julia’s, the Weimar Republic were happy to keep capital punishment on the books just for murder and probably never envisaged a deranged demagogue being democratically elected and going on to pass Enabling Acts so the law could be changed to suit his regime. The handful of murderers the Weimar Republic executed became 40,000 under the Nazis, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than speaking out against the state.

And where is Britain now? Populist leaders democratically elected recently, check – Thatcher on one side, Blair on the other. Enabling Acts, check – Blair and Brown passed lots of mini-Enabling Acts that add up to a great deal of executive power and which, rather worryingly, the Cobbletion doesn’t seem at all interested in repealing. They probably wouldn’t but there’s not much to stop a future fucknuts PM as it is. Still, like Sophie Scholl they can only cut off your head for it once, eh?

But it doesn’t even need that to happen for death sentence mission creep to occur. All it needs is a government under some pressure to save a few quid and look tough for the tabloids.

Minister: Can we release a few more of the minor criminals early?
Advisor: Sorry Minister, that’s political suicide.
Minister: Alright, what about speeding up the death penalty procedures and executing more of the worst criminals? Surely that would be popular?
Advisor: Well, we could certainly streamline the process a little more.
Minister: Only a little?
Advisor: To be honest Minister, after removing the right to a final appeal for clemency to the Queen there’s not that much scope left beyond processing the paperwork more quickly.
Minister: Right, do that then. Anything else? Could we extend execution to other serious crimes?
Advisor: Such as, Minister?
Minister: Well, what have we got now? Murder, obviously.
Advisor: Yes, and terrorism, rape and sexual assault of minors.
Minister: Okay, then we just need to know what the papers are baying for blood over at the moment. You take The Daily Shriek and I’ll look through the Gnash Of The Teeth.
Advisor: People seem very concerned about drugs again, Minister.
Minister: Okay, shall we say any second offence of dealing Class A?
Advisor: I can draft it this afternoon, Minister.

First offence? You’ll probably get off with crucifixion.

So without rehashing the case against capital punishment any further I’d like to expand this whole argument into a simple principle of restraint on the power of the state. A golden rule on limiting executive power, if you will. Simply put it is this:

Never give your government any power that you wouldn’t also be comfortable
entrusting to a genocidal dictator.

Now I’m definitely off. Enjoy your weekend.


Posted on September 24, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Where to draw the line..

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