Tuesday, August 02, 2011

On Guido Fawkes' e-petition for the restoration of capital punishment

His Grace has spoken on the death penalty a number of times in the past, noting in particular the hypocrisy of many on the Left who claim to be ideologically opposed to this ultimate, irrevocable, retributive act but have no qualms at all when men like Saddam Hussein, ‘Chemical Ali’ or Tariq Aziz are sent to meet their maker.

It has been said by a number of recent prime ministers that the British government does not support the use of the death penalty, and that the UK advocates an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime. Yet the last Labour government found itself simultaneously holding mutually-exclusive positions when foreign secretary Margaret Beckett greeted the execution of Saddam Hussein with these words:
I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account. We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation.
It is a curious moral philosophy which can simultaneously welcome the fact that the Iraqi dictator and his henchmen have ‘now been held to account’ whilst insisting that the United Kingdom, along with the rest of the European Union, opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

Now that the Government has decided to move ahead with government-by-petition (the perils of which His Grace expounded 18 months ago), the prophesied front-runners (EU referendum and capital punishment) are making significant head way. The Express is leading on the EU, and Guido Fawkes is leading the call for the restoration of capital punishment. Both will easily garner the requisite 100,000 votes. But so would a petition calling for the establishment of sharia law, or another calling for a ban on mosque building. It will be for an élite committee of MPs to determine which debates will actually be permitted (those which may be deemed to cause ‘offence’ will not), and the criteria by which they will be assessed appears to be secret.

His Grace’s blog, being concerned with that which is religio-political, will examine the theology of capital punishment and then seek to place it in the present socio-political context: that is to say His Grace will consider Guido’s e-petition theologically, politically and sociologically, and then he will give his judgement.

Theologically, Scripture is replete with vast sections which may be used to justify the power of the state to enact a sentence of death. The Old Testament is unequivocal in advocating the death penalty for certain crimes (eg Gen 9:6; Ex 21:12; 22:19; Lev 20:10, 13; Deut 22:24), and those people who quote ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Ex 20:13) in an attempt to neuter the power of the state have no understanding of the context, purposes and functions of the Law. But the New Testament is frequently misquoted on this subject, with all manner of appeals to mercy overriding justice, not least because Jesus himself refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11). Those who seek to find scriptural support for the abolition of the death penalty also cite the Lord’s command not to judge others (Mt 7:1), and the fact that he ordered Simon Peter to put away his sword (Jn 18:10f). Taken to their logical conclusions, such interpretations would seek to abolish all courts of law and prohibit war in all circumstances. Those who are properly concerned with biblical exegesis will know that these scriptures are concerned with such matters as hypocrisy and assault: Jesus upheld the Mosaic law as it related to capital punishment (Mt 5:18-22).

St Paul makes it clear that secular rulers have the responsibility to protect those in their charge, and this involves punishing those who act unjustly. When a judge or magistrate inflicts punishment on a condemned person, he or she is not acting on his or her own behalf, but executing God’s own judgement. There is a distinction between afflicting or harming another and avenging, at God’s command, those who themselves inflict harm on others.

Romans 13:4 makes it clear that the secular ruler may use the sword: the ruler who keeps it sheathed while the wicked murder and massacre is guilty of injustice and of dishonouring God who appointed him or her to an office of authority. If it is justifiable to use the sword to defend one’s territory from outside aggression, how can it be unjustifiable not to use it to eradicate seditious intent from within? Of course, like the ‘Just War’, it must be a last resort and not entered into lightly: mercy must always be a consideration. But it is an idolatrous misreading of the NT to assert pacifism in all contexts, or to appeal to the universal ‘sanctity of human life’ of those who have no regard for the concept themselves.

In Romans, Paul reminds us of the civil courts’ eschatological role in governance: they have a divinely-appointed authority to dispense judgement despite the civil authorities being ‘unjust’ (1Cor 6:1) and made up of ‘unbelievers’ (6:6). All civil authority is appointed by God to restrain evil and promote good (Rom 13:4). Paul also refers to civil authorities as an imperative in the maintenance of peaceful order (1Tim 2:2). This is an important consideration for those who say they do not ‘trust’ our politicians with decisions over life and death. The fact is that it is not our politicians who will determine guilt or innocence, but a jury of our peers. And whether or not the appointed judge is an unbeliever, he is appointed by God to dispense justice.

In Christian theology, the moral order is damaged if sin is not somehow ‘paid for’, and so criminals must ‘pay’ for what they do. As Anselm observed, an offender has to make ‘satisfaction’ to the offended party, and the amount of satisfaction depends on the social status of the party. Since God is infinite, the amount of satisfaction is infinite. Since the offender is mankind, only a human being can make it: hence the need for a God-man. The logic of this is to abolish the need for all penance, since our human satisfaction falls short and the ‘gift’ exceeds every debt. Neither Anselm himself, however, nor the judges who listened to assize sermons for a thousand years, ever saw this implication. It is noteworthy that in successive debates on the reintroduction of the death penalty, it is the Anglican bishops who remained some of the most resolute defenders of the death penalty.

If Guido’s e-petition is not flawed theologically, we must examine the political and sociological dimensions of his campaign. Of course, he is a professional controversialist, and, like politicians, seeks attention in order to maintain his dominant blogging position. Since launching his e-petition campaign, he has had hundreds of blog posts and thousands of column inches given over to his cause, which £10,000s could not have achieved in publicity. This may be adduced to cast doubt upon his motives. Further, he is a self-confessed libertarian, a philosophy which advocates the right of free choice. Conceptually, there is a conflict between individual interest and collective provision: libertarian rights may work against the common good. He has not addressed this disparity, and probably has no intention of doing so.

Politically, we know that the UK is subject to a supreme European Union corpus of law. The EU, upholding the provisions and protocols of the European Convention on Human Rights, is unequivocal in its opposition to the death penalty:
Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances

The member States of the Council of Europe signatory hereto,

Convinced that everyone’s right to life is a basic value in a democratic society and that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of this right and for the full recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings;

Wishing to strengthen the protection of the right to life guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed at Rome on 4 November 1950 (hereinafter referred to as "the Convention");

Noting that Protocol No. 6 to the Convention, concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty, signed at Strasbourg on 28 April 1983, does not exclude the death penalty in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war;

Being resolved to take the final step in order to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1 – Abolition of the death penalty
The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.

Article 2 – Prohibition of derogations
No derogation from the provisions of this Protocol shall be made under Article 15 of the Convention.

Article 3 – Prohibition of reservations
No reservation may be made under Article 57 of the Convention in respect of the provisions of this Protocol.
The Vatican accords:
The Holy See has consistently sought the abolition of the death penalty and his Holiness Pope John Paul II has personally and indiscriminately appealed on numerous occasions in order that such sentences should be commuted to a lesser punishment, which may offer time and incentive for the reform of the guilty, hope to the innocent and safeguard the well-being of civil society itself and of those individuals who through no choice of theirs have become deeply involved in the fate of those condemmed to death.

The Pope had most earnestly hoped and prayed that a worldwide moratorium might have been among the spiritual and moral benefits of the Great Jubilee which he proclaimed for the Year Two Thousand, so that dawn of the Third Millennium would have been remembered forever as the pivotal moment in history when the community of nations finally recognised that it now possesses the means to defend itself without recourse to punishments which are "cruel and unnecessary". This hope remains strong but it is unfulfilled, and yet there is encouragement in the growing awareness that "it is time to abolish the death penalty".

It is surely more necessary than ever that the inalienable dignity of human life be universally respected and recognised for its immeasurable value. The Holy See has engaged itself in the pursuit of the abolition of capital punishment and an integral part of the defence of human life at every stage of its development and does so in defiance of any assertion of a culture of death.

Where the death penalty is a sign of desperation, civil society is invited to assert its belief in a justice that salvages hope from the ruin of the evils which stalk our world. The universal abolition of the death penalty would be a courageous reaffirmation of the belief that humankind can be successful in dealing with criminality and of our refusal to succumb to despair before such forces, and as such it would regenerate new hope in our very humanity.
But neither the EU nor the Vatican are quite as unequivocal as these statements suggest. In the ECHR, we read:
Protocol 6 - restriction of death penalty

Requires parties to restrict the application of the death penalty to times of war or "imminent threat of war".
As His Grace has previously written, the ‘Constitution for Europe’ has reintroduced the death penalty in cases of war, riots, and social upheaval, at the same time as they seek to appear supremely enlightened by proposing a special day to oppose it. Further, the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states:
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
And Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 2004:
'While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.'
As far as the political and religious powers on the Continent are concerned, the death penalty is not abolished absolutely. But for the UK, the present Prime Minister is on the record as saying:
[I]f someone murdered one of my children then emotionally, obviously I would want to kill them. How could you not? But there have been too many cases of things going wrong, of the wrong people being executed, of evidence coming to light after the execution, and sometimes there is just too much of an element of doubt. And I just don't honestly think that in a civilised society like ours that you can have the death penalty any more.
His opening sentence is interesting, for it is concerned with that very heated passion which caused Jesus to tell Simon Peter to put away his sword. It is not for David Cameron to kill anyone: it is for a court of law to weigh the evidence dispassionately, determine guilt or innocence, and dispense justice. Is the British Prime Minister calling the USA uncivilised? Is he calling the majority of the British people uncivilised? How is he defining this civility? Is it not arguably more uncivilised to keep human beings locked away for 23 hours a day for a few years, and then release them in order that they may kill again? Does he not realise that the EU, membership of which he wholeheartedly supports, permits the death penalty? Is the EU uncivilised? Is the Holy See uncivilised?

The mistake Mr Cameron makes – which is common to a good many Christians – is to idolise this earthly existence. To God, our three-score-years-and-ten are but a blink of the eye: He deals with eternity. Yes, life is sacred, but it is not inviolable, for that is idolatry. The man who murders that which is made in the image of God has himself ceased to reflect the image of God: he has violated that which is sanctified, and there is a just penalty for that violation. Yes, of course things go wrong in the administration of justice, but that is not an argument for ceasing to administer justly: it is an argument for improving and constantly reforming our evidence-gathering processes in order that justice may be better administered. And God is the ultimate judge: vengeance and vindication are His.

So, Guido’s e-petition may be observed to have a sound theological basis and present no intractable political problems, save those which are wrapped up in the here-today-gone-tomorrow characters and personalities of our politicians. But sociologically, there is a certain incoherence: Guido wants the death penalty introduced only for the murder of children and police officers killed in the line of duty. How is he defining ‘child’? The age of criminal responsibility? Under 16? Under 18? Under 21? If the latter, a British Breivik (God forbid) would live while someone who kills a sole 17-year-old is executed. And what is so special about police officers killed in the line of duty? What if a vengeful convict decides to murder the High Court judge who sentenced him? Or the prosecuting barrister? What if a criminal shoots a paramedic who is simply performing his or her duty? Why is the life of a law-enforcement officer of greater worth than the life of one who sits in judgement over life or one who seeks to give life?

Guido, being the populist, is playing a hand of emotive cards: if he added paedophiles, he would probably garner even more support. If a particularly brutal murder of a child were to occur tomorrow (especially by a paedophile), his petition would swell beyond his ability (or that of his intern) to cope with the deluge, because such cases arouse those very passions against which the Lord warned. That is not a petition for justice: it is a mob baying for vengeance – an eye for an eye. Should another ‘Baby P’ case emerge, a jury would be subject to such media pressure as to make mitigation unthinkable – an eye for a tooth.

So, we come to His Grace’s verdict.

God works through imperfect people: He instituted the Church – full of sinners – and the State, a temporal political order charged with the dispensation of justice through man’s imperfect intellect and partial appreciation of goodness. Guido is doing what Guido does: he is no different from The News of the World, and his campaign will capture the popular imagination because it is in tune with the nihilism, anarchism, and cynicism of the zeitgeist. For His Grace, he refers his readers and communicants to what he set forth in his XXXIX Articles of Religion:
"The Laws of the realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences" (Article XXXVII).
In accordance with the Old Covenant, laid down by divine command even before the Mosaic Law (Gen 9:6), and contiguous with the New Covenant, which nowhere abrogates the provision, the laws of the realm may punish with death. Into the question whether capital punishment is advisable or not there is no need to enter. For Guido, killing a child is heinous and killing a policeman is grievous. For others, the genocidal inclinations of Saddam Hussein are heinous, and the terrorist offences of Osama Bin Laden are grievous. For His Grace, he would have no qualms at all in sending Anders Behring Breivik to meet his maker. These are matters upon which opinions may differ. So, let the debate commence.

156 Comments:

Blogger Adulcia said...

Is Your Grace's perspective been at all affected by being on the receiving end of Capital Punishment?

2 August 2011 at 10:30  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

How about introducing death by stoning to the UK? That should get multiculturalism back on track!

2 August 2011 at 10:38  
Anonymous Dean Bacardi said...

Your Grace,

A thoughtful and well argued peice.

Also -
Ancient Briton does have a point. Does the type of Capital Punishment affect the debate on whether to have this or not?

Here's a few options ;

1.Hanging
2. Stoning
3. Flogging
4. Cruxifiction
5. Beheading (French or English style?)
6.Hung Drawn and Quatering (doubtless English Viking's favourite?)
7. Electric Chair
10. Lethal injection


Any more I've missed out?

2 August 2011 at 11:00  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

MPs to determine which debates will actually be permitted (those which may be deemed to cause ‘offence’ will not), and the criteria by which they will be assessed appears to be secret.

Says it all.

2 August 2011 at 11:09  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

- And, of course, the ultimate gross hypocrisy in the opposition to the death penalty for proven murders along with support of death for the unborn, in vast numbers - and it's not only Left wing politicians and organisations that take this line. Evil, that's the only word for it ...

2 August 2011 at 11:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

My Your Grace

Such knowledge! If only we had preachers like you to listen to on a Sunday morning!

Brilliant article: theology, politics, sociology combined with EU law. Superb analysis of the issues.

2 August 2011 at 11:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Into the question whether capital punishment is advisable or not there is no need to enter.

If the debate is about whether the Death Penalty should be reintroduced, I would recommend that the question of whether it is advisable to reintroduce come up at some point!

I think you are right though - over all, the death penalty is not absolutely wrong in principle. However, the money quote from Pope John Paul II is this:

It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

Cardinal Ratzinger commented at the time that this statement meant the Catechism would have to be revised.

Earliest Christian tradition tends to be severely opposed to the death penalty, sometimes explicitly on the grounds that your following statement is false:

The man who murders that which is made in the image of God has himself ceased to reflect the image of God

(Do you really mean that or is there a lot of meaning given to the word "reflect"?)

John Thomas has isolated the real hypocrisy of the Left.

2 August 2011 at 11:25  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

Dean Bacardi's list may not be exhaustive but surely the attraction of stoning is the opportunity for joyful participation without much regard for whether the victim is guilty or not. Errors of judgement leading to execution by more formal means may lead to much soul searching should the accused later be proved to have been innocent. Older communicants will remember such incidents which may introduce a wider perspective.

2 August 2011 at 11:43  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I think the US Marine Corps applied Yoyr Grace's approach
in their slogan- "Only God can judge Bin Laden. Our task is to schedule the meeting."

2 August 2011 at 11:45  
Anonymous Twurchsteward said...

The man who murders that which is made in the image of God has himself ceased to reflect the image of God

I'm intrigued by this statement as I seen no space for redemption in it - sure the murderer at the time has ceased to be reflective of Gods image but then don't we all fall short of that on a daily basis ? If we believe in the redemptive power of Christs sacrifice how to square this with the finality of the death penalty ?

Beautifully argued piece - even though I may not agree with your conclusion.

2 August 2011 at 11:55  
Anonymous @sitsio (Mark L) said...

Recent changes in attitude are because of the execution of people who have later been found to be innocent, and partly because the execution leaves no possibility for the criminal to reform.

The essential point, however, is the existence in many more developed parts of the world of much more sophisticated means if controlling dangerous criminals.

In a Catholic context, it is the common good which accounts for what the Church teaches on this matter; the common good requires the effective protection of society and the effective restraint of criminals who are a threat to the lives of others.

Capital Punishment is discouraged in Evangelium Vitae:

It is an 'extreme' (Evangelium Vitae, n. 56) not to be used except "when it would be not possible otherwise to defend society"—something "very rare, if not practically non-existent" because of "steady improvements in the organisation of the penal system".

It quotes the Catechism saying that public authority "must limit itself to such (bloodless) means", since "they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good" and are "more in conformity to the dignity of the human person".


Given the changes in the penal system, the Magisterium is stating very strongly that there is no longer a proportionate reason for capital punishment, that such punishment is no longer a proportionate means of dealing with dangerous criminals.

However, it stops short of excluding capital punishment altogether: this is because of the practice in past centuries, no doubt, but also because there could be 'rare occasions' when the 'concrete conditions of the common good' were not what they generally are in the developed world. Unusual circumstances such as civil disorder might render effective protection of the innocent from the danger from very violent criminals something which could not be 'otherwise' assured.

2 August 2011 at 12:08  
Anonymous Ray Griffin said...

Your Grace seems to have omitted one of the Saviour's utterances, which can be applied to this topic.

I refer to Matthew 18:6 which reads: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Here we have the Son of God Himself stating that there are instances that the better way is for a life to be taken when a particular action is taken (obviously offending little ones is not referring to hurting their feelings, but to greater abuses).

I am glad that you empahasised the fact that it is a court of law based on the judgement of a jury of peers, and not the State (even more so under our ancient Common Law) that inflicts the death penalty.

I am sorry to say that there are actions for which redemption is not possible in this life.

Ray Griffin

2 August 2011 at 12:10  
Anonymous Toby G said...

Your Grace.

However you dress it up, it is murder by the state.

Do you trust the state to be 100% accurate, do you trust the state to do this in a logical, clear cut, open way in a reasonable time frame, costing less money than current 'life' tariff incarceration.


I don't.

murder is NOT a rational act.

revenge ISN'T Justice.

Justice should be punishment, and this needs to be a proper 'life' tarrif and sexual crimes having chemical and/or physical castration.

2 August 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger D. Singh said...

@sitsio (Mark L) said...

‘and partly because the execution leaves no possibility for the criminal to reform’.

There is a step before that: the convict could in the execution shed, if he wanted to, ask God to forgive him.

Thus, the act of execution is about the termination of the ‘biological’ part of the convict’s life. It has nothing to do with the man’s soul and (or) his place in eternity.

But if the convict has a possibility to reform – then so does the (rare) ‘innocent’ man on death row (by making his peace with his Creator). ‘Death’ as one philosopher noted, ‘is a central fact of existence’.

Capital punishment is not murder: as the sentence of death was arrived at through judicial process.

2 August 2011 at 12:38  
Anonymous Toby G said...

ha ha, and you trust the judicial process do you.

open and accountable is it?

no, no, no.

2 August 2011 at 12:46  
Anonymous Alistair Thomas said...

Normally I would argue that unlimited liberal tendancies are only appropriate in a world of unlimited resources. The EU is constantly writing cheques beyond even the reasonable abilities of its members to pay for. It has never had and appears idealogically opposed to balancing the books.

However, today I want to pick up the thread about do-gooders that release offenders early only for someone else to pay for their folly, and sometimes pay the ultimate price as the offender reoffends.

It's right that we have the check that defendants are found quitly only beyond reasonable doubt.

When it comes to parole boards, since they get it wrong so many times and so many offenders go on to reoffend, I can only assume that they are still applying the reasonable doubt idea to the original offence: "Do I feel comfortable with this result, this sentence?". A sort of appeal-lite system but without any of the checks and balances of a proper appeal.

In fact, given that offenders have already enjoyed the full benefit of doubt at their original trial, parole boards should apply the exact opposite thinking: "This person has been found guily. Am I absolutely convinced that this person will not reoffend? If I have any reasonable doubt then I must vote to keep then locked up".

As further incentive to give such decisions proper weight, there should be consquences for getting it wrong. Community service maybe, removal from decision making process pending retraining etc.

The balance of legal justice is so hopelessly in favour of criminals at the moment, something must be done to establish social justice. The death penalty may not be it, but it does serve to focus the mind.

2 August 2011 at 12:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Toby G

'open and accountable is it?'

The 'error' may not lie where you think it lies. It may well be within our law schools - teaching 'litigation' (winning a case)rather than jurisprudence.

2 August 2011 at 13:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a duty to protect our children from monsters. All paedophiles and abortionists should hang.

2 August 2011 at 13:03  
Anonymous Toby G said...

D. Singh

ok, but the error is still there and to clean it all up so that everything is 'fair' and the error rate is almost non-existant is impossible.

Thailand has the death penalty, its prisons are notoriously rough and the sentences long. There hasn't been a decrease in the murder rate or smuggling, in fact it remains high. Of course justice there is also hidiously corrupt.

The Death penalty doesn't deter, because murder isn't a rational act.

other serious crimes of abuse, manslaughter and sexual abuse need to be dealt with by high or 'life' tariffs, in Cat A prisons and chemical castration.

2 August 2011 at 13:12  
Anonymous blackdogtales said...

A full life tariff is exactly the same as the death penalty. The prisoner dies in custody at some point...this is certain.

The death penalty is not required to restore faith in the justice system or safeguard life and limb. The appropriate use of full life tariffs would achieve this. Therefore, the restoration of the death penalty would be a barbaric and retrograde step.

The main problem we have nowadays is an assumption that repentance and rehabilitation are inexorable outcomes of retribution. They are not, and certain disturbances of mind - child killers, sexual and mass murderers in particular - cannot be understood and cannot be rehabilitated. For them, life must mean life.

Most murders (and most of the increase in the murder rate) is due to wretched people killing other wretched people without a thought for the consequences, often under the influence of drink or drugs, or through negligence or violent anger. The death penalty would not be a deterrent ... in the US, most capital cases are plea-bargained down in return for a guilty plea. It would be more fruitful to tackle the causes of an increased homicide rate ... poverty, ignorance, alienation, slothfulness, dependency, lack of values, lack of hope. Why kill people after they have killed? Why not stop them beforehand? Vengeance is not justice and will not restore a life or a soul that we hope has been transformed elsewhere. Vengeance is an entirely ruinous emotion, completely understandable and all the more damaging for it. It is not the same as grief or loss and should not be the remembrance or commemoration of a life lost.

2 August 2011 at 13:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Will the Norwegian justice system refuse to put Breivik on trial because it doesn’t trust its criminal justice system? (For his conviction is most likely – and that cannot be the reason.)

If it did put him on trial would it not be the Norwegian criminal justice system on trial?

2 August 2011 at 13:16  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Your Grace, you must be somehow in touch with my dispatcher or be privy to my schedule, for you just penned a great mind-candy of a piece I can only quickly skim through, with little time for my enlightening and voluminous commentary.

So, while I respect other opinions on this matter, I'll just quickly register my personal abhorence of capital punishment by the state. Wars, assassinations of tyrants and terrorists and even emergency martial courts and executions are one thing, but deliberate, judicially sanctioned, scientifically designed and precedurally carried out killings of our own citizens amidst appeals and pleas for commutation, even where disgusting monsters are concerned, simply horrifies me. I wish I had a reasoned argument for my gut-driven position, but I can't think of one at this time.

2 August 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger D. Singh said...

And here is the socialist explanation: poverty, ignorance, alienation, slothfulness, dependency, lack of values, lack of hope.

Nothing about personal responsibility and therefore, really, not gulity.

2 August 2011 at 13:19  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Avi - I take it that Eichmann should not have recieved the death penalty?

2 August 2011 at 13:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Toby G

Great Britain is not Thailand and Thailand is not Great Britain.

We must compare like with like.

2 August 2011 at 13:23  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This quoted from Peter Hitchens in April is very relevant:

"On the question of the homicide rate in this country, I have mentioned before that many crimes which would once unhesitatingly been classified as murder are now listed, and prosecuted, as 'manslaughter', largely to save time and resources for the CPS and the courts. Comparisons with the past are also made difficult by the huge improvements in trauma surgery since the 1960s, which enable doctors to save many people who would undoubtedly have died of their wounds and injuries 45 years ago. The heedless, cruel violence which leads to such injuries ( and which in my view is at least partly a consequence of the abandonment of deterrent hanging) has increased far more than the number of death resulting from it. This increase was until recently reflected in the figures for attempted murder and of 'wounding to endanger life' (this quadrupled from 155 per year to 634 between 1976 and 1996) but I strongly suspect that the CPS are no longer bothering to charge at this level, in their constant effort to ease pressure on the prisons.

The death penalty plainly does not restrain all murder. But there is a strong case to suggest that it deters murders done for calculated reasons (the removal of a witness to another crime, rape or robbery) . And there is evidence from the two suspensions of the death penalty, in 1948 and 1957, that the use of firearms by criminals increased during this suspensions, and began its long, unremitting increase to the levels of today after final abolition."

2 August 2011 at 13:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Why do the Norwegians distrust their criminal justice system in the case of B?

Is not socialist?

Is it not ‘humane’?

Is it not liberal?

Is it not ‘compassionate’?

But if the trial is not held in Norway then that means the Norwegians have judged their criminal justice system and found it wanting – does it not?

In their eyes it would ‘not be fit for purpose’ – would it not?

If the trial was not held in Norway then which ideology are we to blame? Socialism?

2 August 2011 at 13:46  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Mr Singh, asked, "Avi - I take it that Eichmann should not have recieved the death penalty?"

That's right, sir, after fighting off my urge to tear him apart with my own hands, I would put him and yes, even Hitler had he lived, in prison for life, with all the standard rights and amenities. Loss of freedom and separation from society are ultimate penalties in themselves, and if you were to volunteer at a maximum security prison, you might agree with me that there are punishments worse than death.

But I've finally refueled with fairy dust, and I'm off on the wireless-poor roads for the next ten or so hours, folks.

2 August 2011 at 13:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Should we teach the lesson of B using the terms of dialectical materialism?

Don’t you think Marx would approve?

Thesis (B) + anti-thesis (socialists) = synthesis (21 years)

Why not incarceration for the rest of his life?

Is one life to be equated with 77?

2 August 2011 at 13:53  
Blogger D. Singh said...

‘Loss of freedom and separation from society are ultimate penalties in themselves’.

That does not make logical sense.

Death, in this context, is ultimate.

Perhaps you meant penultimate?

2 August 2011 at 13:56  
Blogger rick allen said...

"In Christian theology, the moral order is damaged if sin is not somehow ‘paid for’"

And therefore the concept of forgiveness is precluded by your idea of Christian theology?

Must we therefore set aside what Jesus teaches in order to ensure the full payment of an eye for an eye?

2 August 2011 at 14:10  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Now! Now! Now!

Aren't we living in a multicultural society?

Would that not include the socialist? The Moslem? The Atheist? The Agnostic?

Pary. Let me come back tou your point.

2 August 2011 at 14:14  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Allen

Are you saying that the State should forgive?

For it is the Crown that brings the prosecution.

Not the victim.

2 August 2011 at 14:17  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Allen

Did you not read what His Grace wrote:

'Theologically, Scripture is replete with vast sections which may be used to justify the power of the state to enact a sentence of death. The Old Testament is unequivocal in advocating the death penalty for certain crimes (eg Gen 9:6; Ex 21:12; 22:19; Lev 20:10, 13; Deut 22:24), and those people who quote ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Ex 20:13) in an attempt to neuter the power of the state have no understanding of the context, purposes and functions of the Law. But the New Testament is frequently misquoted on this subject, with all manner of appeals to mercy overriding justice, not least because Jesus himself refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11). Those who seek to find scriptural support for the abolition of the death penalty also cite the Lord’s command not to judge others (Mt 7:1), and the fact that he ordered Simon Peter to put away his sword (Jn 18:10f). Taken to their logical conclusions, such interpretations would seek to abolish all courts of law and prohibit war in all circumstances. Those who are properly concerned with biblical exegesis will know that these scriptures are concerned with such matters as hypocrisy and assault: Jesus upheld the Mosaic law as it related to capital punishment (Mt 5:18-22).'

2 August 2011 at 14:20  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Allen

Since you appear to know so much about Christian theology: why did Jesus ask God to forgive them, governor Pontius Pilate amongst them, and not Caesar?

2 August 2011 at 14:28  
Anonymous Jack Flash said...

I must confess that I'm with Avi on this issue. As christians we spout all sorts of platitudes about forgiveness of those that sin against us. But in reality we are baying for the blood of those who we feel deserve to die for some crime that we feel justified in condemning as worthy of death, in our opinion.
The depths of man's depraved and sinful nature is known only by God, and He alone is capable of righteous (Eternal) judgement. Perhaps, if we, the church had the courage to tell society about God's Judgement as well as His Love and Mercy, many "Capital" crimes would be averted.
Capital punishment has often been the chosen instrument of removing the "troublesome" element from society, including the Lord Jesus and also John Huss,plus of course a certain Archbishop Cranmer and thousands of others.
Don't forget that some religions deem a conversion to christianity as a capital offence.
Be careful what you ask for. You might receive it! "When the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch". Leader and led.
Simply, a life sentence should MEAN life. Murder can be sudden, violent and brutal, driven by anger. But execution is always in Cold Blood.


Jack.

2 August 2011 at 14:34  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

I am, notionally, in favour of the death penalty, but you appear to be making a couple of suppositions in your analysis.

Romans 13 give the power of life and death to the state, but only under the circumstances laid out in that chapter. In other words, ONLY when the state is rewarding good and punishing evil. Evil is proclaimed righteousness on a daily basis in GB, and good men and their actions are continually punished. I have no obligation to be obedient nor submit to a wicked state, even if it is my own, any more than the average hun should have been obedient to the SS.

You appear to think that, should I ever find myself in court (again) I would be tried by a jury of my peers.

I doubt very much the judge would like it very much if I requested that all women, non-Christians, too old, too young, non-whites be replaced by my actual peers, particularly if said judge is like the fellow you mentioned yesterday.

It is quite clear that the Bible permits and even advocates the use of the DP under some circumstances, and so in that sense, I completely agree with it. However, the state, and the person who currently infest the highest levels of power in the land have been proven so utterly corrupt, so devoid of right judgement, so completely corrupt, that until we sort those things out first, we just could not trust the state to do as God has instructed.

I'd be happy to see it introduced where there is absolutely no element of doubt over guilt whatsoever.

People like Blair, Brown, Cameron etc, and their respective ministers, for killing thousands in useless, unnecessary and un-winnable wars they started by lying to Parliament.

2 August 2011 at 14:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Where we find most of our problems with the two sides of capital punishment is that really both sides hold a truth of God. God's law of justice for the taking of a life demands that life be taken; yet, God's spiritual law of mercy and forgiveness grants that a murderer can be forgiven and restored. How can we reconcile this? We must understand that God instituted civil authorities to maintain order in the earth. God uses them to restrain evil and they should be obeyed for this purpose. In the New Testament we see that even Jesus surrendered to the governing authorities because He was submitted to God.

John 19:11: "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above..."

Romans 13 (RSV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

From these verses we see that governments can elect to practice capital punishment, the harshest form of punishment.

2 August 2011 at 14:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Say what’s up with the socialists here? Aren’t we friends anymore?

OJ Simpson trial? Socialist justice?

Awshucks! Hasn’t the Lisbon Treaty abolished the death penalty?

Aren’t we all ‘good’ Europeans now?

Isn’t it great that the Socialists signed us up to the treaty?

2 August 2011 at 15:11  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Professor Schachtschneider pointed out that it [the European Union reform treaty, a.k.a. the Lisbon Treaty] also reintroduces the death penalty in Europe.

And this is not in the treaty, but in a footnote, because with the European Union reform treaty, we accept also the European Union Charter, which says that there is no death penalty, and then it also has a footnote, which says, “except in the case of war, riots, upheaval” – then the death penalty is possible.

Schachtschneider points to the fact that this is an outrage, because they put it in a footnote of a footnote, and you have to read it, really like a super-expert to find out.

So the next time students riot?

Death penalty.

Right on man?

2 August 2011 at 15:15  
Anonymous Anon 2 said...

I have heard say, "There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with butter."
Hence my additions to the Rum man's list above:

Use of deadly hospital infections for culling the elderly.

Character Assassination. (Spiritual murder is still murder).

2 August 2011 at 15:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come from Illinois, where the state death penalty is responsible for the deaths of 13 innocent people.

Although a longtime supporter of the law and still, in theory, for it--who doesn't like to see the bad guys get theirs?--I no longer support it. The vagaries of the administration of the law and the frailty of human nature argue against it.

I would not like to be in the place of one of those who are innocent and are fighting for their life against the inexorable incompetence of the state. Neither would you.

2 August 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger D. Singh said...

You're right: 'Spiritual murder is still murder'.

I wonder how many Pacifists on this blog have, just once in their lives, thought about murder?

Jesus would say that is sin - for does not murder begin in the heart?

The Pacifist needs to repent and seek forgiveness.

The more that's disclosed - the higher the moral standard goes up.

2 August 2011 at 15:32  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Thank you, Your Grace for an excellent appraisal and summation.

My concern is a wholly pragmatic one: the discovery/invention of as near a fool-proof method of discerning guilt as is possible!

Science, in whatever form, should be encouraged, with rich reward, to come up with the answer.

Years ago, scientific 'quandaries' were submitted to the public, and general scientific community, for resolution. The accepted 'winner' recieving an attractive reward. I advocate this method for discerning 'guilt'.

A battery of such tests might be employed before any final judgement be reached, and executed.

A discovery in the determination of 'guilt' would be a blessing to the judicial system as a whole; but not, alas, for many lawyers!

Let's not be 'sneezy' here, how about a prize of a hundred million pounds, to be going on with; perhaps even a billion, should it prove absolutely fool-proof?!?!

2 August 2011 at 16:23  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Great discussion. I’ve listened to both sides and see merit in both although I tend towards the rule in the 5th Commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. However, although we must prosecute murderers and ensure the safety of society I think it is worth considering to what extent we are all culpable. This is not to excuse the criminal who must be prosecuted but for example, we are horrified by paedophiles and yet as a nation we tolerate pornography some of it very nasty indeed as being harmless. Pornographic images have even been spread across newspapers and magazines and brought into our homes by the television. Some of what is offered for view is simply voyeuristic titillation, pandering to people’s baser emotions and we pay a compulsory license fee for this and a later price in the spread of perversion in society. We have ended up with confusion in our land because we do not have a consistent philosophy and we cannot have a consistent philosophy when we are try to please every interest group. We used to respect life and then we started killing the unborn and wonder why we have minor civil war on our streets every weekend. The laws we make, change the nature of society and if we break God’s laws the confusion will only increase. We have witnessed and stood by while millions were killed in the womb and have not recognized the message that our society is giving back to Almighty God so while we discuss the rights and wrongs of getting rid of murderers maybe as a society we should stop murdering.

2 August 2011 at 16:25  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

I have re-read some of me recent communications and agree they leave a lot to be desired.

Sincere apologies to those I have offended.

I'm going for a walk now. I may be some time...

2 August 2011 at 16:30  
Blogger English Viking said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 August 2011 at 16:31  
Blogger Lev said...

I thought the sixth commandment said: "You shall not murder", NOT "You shall not kill"?

2 August 2011 at 16:49  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Jumping the gun a little here.

Lets get our Country back first, before debating if Rabinder Singh should be given the power to pass a sentence of death.

Remember, events can change speedily, its not a matter of what the Government thinks, what do the rebel factions think because they are the legitimate voice.

2 August 2011 at 17:00  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Lev - quite, it refers to 'unlawful' killing, or so I've always thought it to mean.

2 August 2011 at 17:02  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Parliament would never have introduced a law like this if they hadn't at the same time introduced a way of doing nothing.
It will be relatively easy to get the requisite number of signatures for a debate (which may never happen under the get out clause) Personally, I would have rather had a higher barrier, but which if reached, would make it mandatory to have a referendum on the subject, like the "question" that you are able to have on the ballot paper in many of the States in America.

2 August 2011 at 17:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranmer has provided a detailed and closely argued account of the "Christian position" and so has eloquently demonstrated why that position should have no place in framing the law.

All that fine stuff about "god's image" and "the son of god said" is, alas, so much dingo's kidneys so killing to satisfy "heaven's" requirement for justice or moral order is out.

Since the more we understand about the workings of the human brain the less merit we find in concepts such as "sin" we have to abandon concepts such as desserts in relation to punishment. There are only two rationale grounds for punishment - deterrence and what we might call hygiene (keeeping people intent on crime out of circulation). I suppose either of these could be used to make a case for killing a sentient human person but only if there was really no alternative: I don't see that capital punishment passes that test.

Peter Wood

2 August 2011 at 17:53  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thankyou your grace for your abilities to put where some of these matters come from , we all benefit from some intelligent writing.

I perhaps cannot articulate some of the drivers that changed the death penalty , but no doubt Lord Longford springs to mind, nor perhaps many communicants will remember how policing and courts acted somewhat more locally and directly.

your strongest case in the current climate is releasing people who then go onto to kill again , however this does not answer the death penalty question .

I would think most people are perhaps feeling the squimishness of giving authority to end a convicted criminals life , or the few cases where the death penalty may have been wrongly applied or even a miscarriage of justice occurs.The shared guilt is not easy for the modern christian mind as it seems we have no answer to barbarism other than end its life.

We now have courts and legal sytems that judge the extranious factors and not the crime incidence alone , and two conflicting pieces of evidence .
1) when the death penalty was active in the UK , murders were fairly rare
2) In the USA the death penalty does not seem to reduce the murder rate.

The courts/legal system would have to revert to applying the tariff to the crime alone ,a more stark form of justice .Which i do not think our society is prepared for yet.

The increase in callous murders is perhaps where it will come from , let alone the access to illegal guns , and the lethal gang cultures forming .

If it protects the people by ultimate penalty example , and the failure to recognise how law is now breaking down , then it will return until such time as it is understood , how the law in a civil society is upheald and maintained .

The nudge theorists will perhaps weep even if to not speak of there own delusion about sytems of liberal government , and how as you point out can lead to more crime/murder as will to self does not refer to the institutes of law and order .

2 August 2011 at 17:55  
Anonymous malvoisin said...

Some interesting posts on this subject, I may be mistaken, I have read such comments as, the killer if executed will not get the chance to reform, yet there are no comments on the victims, do they get any second thoughts at all?

Considering the level of murder in this country now, compared to when hanging was in force, most murder victims would be alive today

As for state execuion do not the police have authority to open fire (AND HAVE DONE SO) if they think suspects are dangerous?

2 August 2011 at 18:05  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

Imagine Jesus sentencing someone to death.

Me neither.

The Express/Fawkes 'campaigns' are just silly season cum pub bore stuff.

2 August 2011 at 18:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

The Inspector General asks this - Does God really care about whether his human society has the death penalty. His son wasn't clear on the matter, and if anyone had a special interest in it, he did.

He understand's from the bible that the world has a free hand in what happens on earth or doesn't...

2 August 2011 at 18:32  
Anonymous Lollard said...

It is quite well established that capital punishment has no deterrent effect on potential murderers. Observing the abolition and re-introduction of capital punishment in states of the USA, one can see no correlation with murder rates. Murderers do not, on the whole, carefully weigh up the possible consequences of their act and decide that, while 25 years in prison might be an acceptable risk, hanging is not.

So we are left with the retributive principle, from which all criminal justice depends, there being no justification for doing anything to a criminal unless he or she has done wrong. Do we, in this cause, really want to excite the bloodlust of the nation against a presumed murderer? Can you imagine the bloody headlines in the red-tops, the twitter campaigns and the foaming blog entries, desiring the death of the Monster Wot Dun This?

We make little enough real progress. Let us not confuse the right to inflict capital punishment with any desirability of doing so. Let us not take this backwards step.

2 August 2011 at 18:53  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

lollard - one other principle - Cost. DP free's up prison space for those that can be released...

2 August 2011 at 19:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Peter Wood,

Since the more we understand about the workings of the human brain the less merit we find in concepts such as "sin" we have to abandon concepts such as desserts in relation to punishment.

I don't quite follow - unless you mean to argue science denies we have freedom or moral responsibility. Is that what you are getting at? Just wondering if you would elaborate, please.

2 August 2011 at 19:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 August 2011 at 19:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm so utterly opposed to the death penalty that I don't think I can consider myself a citizen of a country that is willing to impose it. I suppose I'd end up in a State of Nature within our borders and go on from there really.

2 August 2011 at 19:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0

Having a "liberals bleeding heart" has it drawbacks - You could be murdered out there...

2 August 2011 at 19:41  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr DanJ0,

According to your passport, you are an EU citizen. According to the 'Constitutional Treaty', the EU supports the death penalty. Will you be renouncing your EU citizenship?

2 August 2011 at 19:44  
Blogger len said...

The only thing that keeps the 'fallen nature' of man in check is fear of retribution.
Now if this fear of retribution is removed we have the sort of lawlessness and disorder we are currently experiencing.There is scant respect for authority amongst those bent on criminal activity.
Prison seems to be accept as 'par for the course ' by those engaged in criminal activity and is scarcely a deterrent for those engaged in the more serious crimes.
Some criminals are so dangerous that the can/should not be/ever released to prey upon the public.So you either confine them for life,being life, or execute them.
Liberals of course will be up in arms about this , but what about the victims, in some cases multiple victims whose lives could have been saved if the perpetrator had been executed and not released to commit more crimes?
The though that by taking a life one might lose theirs must be the ultimate deterrent.

2 August 2011 at 19:50  
Blogger Hazel said...

His Grace has spoken on the death penalty a number of times in the past, noting in particular the hypocrisy of many on the Left who claim to be ideologically opposed to this ultimate, irrevocable, retributive act but have no qualms at all when men like Saddam Hussein, ‘Chemical Ali’ or Tariq Aziz are sent to meet their maker.

You are on my list of 'disagree, read to raise blood pressure, but at least well-written blogs' so I am interested to find myself agreeing with you here.

Ha! You might be entertained to learn that you actually have an even less likely ally than me on this one. See here.

The Old Testament is unequivocal in advocating the death penalty for certain crimes (eg Gen 9:6; Ex 21:12; 22:19; Lev 20:10, 13; Deut 22:24),

Ex 22: 18-19 surely?

For His Grace, he would have no qualms at all in sending Anders Behring Breivik to meet his maker.

I understand, and sympathise, but what both you and Cameron have in common is that neither you, nor he, would actually be carrying out the sentence. This is what kills the death penalty stone cold dead for me (sorry!). It is the fact that it involves not only the guilty, but also the innocent who are asked to take part in the process. No doctor should ever find herself in an execution chamber.

So, let the debate commence.

As a positive contribution may I recommend Orwell's short essay A Hanging. This makes the point much better than I ever could how such things make savages of us all.

2 August 2011 at 20:06  
Anonymous len said...

It is incongruous that those who endorse abortion (the taking of an innocent life) baulk at the taking of a guilty life by capital punishment.

2 August 2011 at 20:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel

Let the men carry out the death sentence. I'm sure they'd like a nice cup of tea afterwards if you could....

2 August 2011 at 20:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

His Grace: "According to your passport, you are an EU citizen. According to the 'Constitutional Treaty', the EU supports the death penalty. Will you be renouncing your EU citizenship?"

I'll be considering myself as in a State of Nature i.e. not subject to any duties, obligations, structures, conventions or anything else like that. Essentially an outlaw and free to run amok if I choose. Or I might just emigrate.

2 August 2011 at 20:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "The only thing that keeps the 'fallen nature' of man in check is fear of retribution."

Utter bollocks.

You should ditch your dead god with its depressing outlook and join us. We're nice simply because we are. I donated a load of money to the East Africa appeal last week. No-one in my real life knows. I'm not buying myself into a heaven. I get nothing tangible back. But I'm happy as a result. How do you account for that?

2 August 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "It is incongruous that those who endorse abortion (the taking of an innocent life) baulk at the taking of a guilty life by capital punishment."

If you mean me then you haven't read and understood a word I wrote on the subject otherwise you wouldn't think it was incongruous at all.

2 August 2011 at 20:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJO

The problem with 'nice' people is that they get taken advantage of and suffer as a result - I hope you're spared this...

2 August 2011 at 20:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"The problem with 'nice' people is that they get taken advantage of and suffer as a result - I hope you're spared this..."

I know. That money I donated ... I nicked it from the donation box in the local church.

2 August 2011 at 20:37  
Blogger Hazel said...

You know OoIG, I do believe that you are trying to get an emotional rise out of me rather than actually dealing with what I say. How quaint.

Might I suggest you simply read the link instead?

N.B Orwell was male. Yes, I know that false positives happen with the name George, especially if one is a fan of Eliot, or (as is more likely in your case) Enid Blyton, but I am pretty sure that I am correct in this instance.

2 August 2011 at 20:42  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJO - you're hellbound

Hazel - I understand where you're coming from. We want meat on the table but we don't want to think of the slaughterhouse. there are others who will do that. (You're not a vegetarian are you ?)

2 August 2011 at 20:48  
Blogger len said...

Danjo ,
You are 'nice' as you so quaintly put it because of the vestiges of a God given conscience.

2 August 2011 at 20:50  
Anonymous tony b said...

" It will be for an élite committee of MPs to determine which debates will actually be permitted (those which may be deemed to cause ‘offence’ will not), and the criteria by which they will be assessed appears to be secret."

In other words the whole thing is a pointless waste of time.

2 August 2011 at 20:53  
Blogger len said...

Danjo,

You are 'nice' only to the extent to which you have deadened your conscience.
Some have managed to totally obliterate their God given conscience ..........these are the people we are talking about....its not all about you.

2 August 2011 at 20:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"You are 'nice' as you so quaintly put it because of the vestiges of a God given conscience."

Well, that's handy because it's not just fear of retribution that keeps me in check then. It must be that vestige of a conscience keeping me nice! Perhaps.

2 August 2011 at 20:55  
Blogger Hazel said...

OoIG

What I am is too long in the tooth to get into extended conversations with people who contribute nothing.

If anyone wants to direct an intelligent comment my way, I will respond.

2 August 2011 at 21:08  
Anonymous Tony B said...

>The though[sic] that by taking a life one might lose theirs must be the ultimate deterrent

In which case, why are there around 3,000 people on death row in the USA? Perhaps they forgot?

Incidentally since 1973 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence - there are on average 5 exonerations per year in the USA (from 2000-2007). Still, I'm sure you'd be happy to be hanged when innocent, in the interests of justice.

2 August 2011 at 21:44  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Tricky one this and a good case in favour of the death penalty for some or for all convicted murderers. However, I disagree with the conclusions and the 'judgement' on moral grounds.

Christ restored the moral order eternally. It is not disturbed by an act of murder as the price for all disordered acts in time has been paid.

The State has a legal and morally justifiable right to take life in accordance with due process for the crime of murder. However, unless the penaly is explicitly retributive, to remain truely moral, in my opinion, it must demonstrate there is no other recourse than killing the killer. If it is simply retributative, again, in my opinion, it has to demonstrate this form of extreme revenge serves the common good.

There is alternative ways of protecting society from murder and exacting retribution - prison or hospital. Evidence suggests too(there's plenty on line) State sanctioned homicide acts as no deterence.

Surely Christ told Peter to sheild his sword because the Jewish Palace Guard and Roman soldiers were acting within the rights of both Church and State at the time? This conferred no moral sanction on the way each institution discharged its moral duty and carried out executions.

Yes, kill when if we must for reasons other than revenge and those reasons can be demonstrated.

No, it should not be reintroduced because we have no morally indisputable need for it.

2 August 2011 at 23:14  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len said ...
"The only thing that keeps the 'fallen nature' of man in check is fear of retribution."

"Some have managed to totally obliterate their God given conscience .........."


In two sentences you sum up our fundamental differeces.

So for the 'unsaved' impose extreme fear of retribution - and exact it. For the 'saved' this will not be a problem because the Holy Spirit will ensure they stay on the right side of the track.

How simple and how wrong.

God gave us all a conscience and the facility to know right from wrong. He also implanted in most people compassion for others. These qualities can be stunted in people and need an opportunity to grow.

In the process of human and spiritual development we all make mistakes. A few of us commit heinous crimes against others. A very few others will have no apparent conscience and no evident capacity to feel for others.

As Christians we should always be on the side of preserving life unless there is an uncontravertible moral need to take life. How do we know the spiritual condition of any man? Would you be willing to judge it as a forerunner to deciding to kill him? And what of the power of God to change aman in a moment?

2 August 2011 at 23:31  
Blogger len said...

Dodo,
If what you surmise is right, abolish the legal system,and the Police force as in your World they have no purpose.

2 August 2011 at 23:41  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

Leave the decision to the people...

2 August 2011 at 23:57  
Blogger len said...

Leave the decision to the people..

Agreed let the people decide.

3 August 2011 at 00:28  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len

How ridiculous! The State is needed to maintain the common good and protect the individual - basic Catholic social teaching. It also has a role to play in promoting social justice where the good qualities in people can flourish - once more, basic Catholic principles.

The question is whether the use of force on behalf of the State should be subject to some moral reasoning other than, to paraphrase some, certain individuals are irredemable and/or their particular crime is so heinious society must exact revenge and must frighten others not to do the same.

3 August 2011 at 00:32  
Anonymous not a machine said...

In the end it would be for the courts to decide on sentence , but it is a little hard to imgaine how the justice system once worked .
A judges jdugement was somthing once taken very seriously , even on ordinary custodial sentences .

I wonder if lord Denning made any notable comment in his time ?

Although perhaps a glimpse could be gleamed from the dark portrayal of the black and white version of "great expectations" , not so much Mr Jaggers although his legal portrayal is interesting of the times itself , but there is a scene after the boat fight scene in which , the convict is re sentenced , quite if so many were in court for one sentence I dont know if historically true , but you certainly understand that the judge is applying his sentence in his court , and there isnt much post donning black cloth, hollywood lawyer appeals dealings either.

Looking at other comments about this , there is some clear uneasiness about if it is retrograde or not , the savegery within our own actions perhaps.
quite if sit back , enjoy life and have no part in it , is where we are is an interesting response in itself in how views have been changed .

cant really imagine it on our breakfast TV screens again "at 8am said convict was hung by the neck until dead , the corner has released the body for burial and now over to sue whos doing a spot of yummy beach cookery ".

And yet Fred west or Harold Shipman had a large call for the death penalty to be given. So there is a point when the revulsion of the crime does have democratic weight.

3 August 2011 at 00:48  
Anonymous not a machine said...

To all those who have arrived at leave it to the people , whoa there , we/you are the people you will still have to decide for yourself , wont you !

andrew Lilico thinks corporal punishment should return I can see that view having more headwind than the death penalty.

i might favour petty crime going to army boot camp for 12 months , see if that has any effect on repeat offence rates .

If the sentence doesnt change ,reform or rehabilitate criminal behaviours , then we clearly haveent got it right .

3 August 2011 at 00:58  
Anonymous uk Fred said...

In Scottish Law, there used to be provision for a referendum known as a Veto Poll ro be held if a sufficient number of citizens in a burgh wanted to challenge the status quo as to whether a burgh should have licenced premises in it or not. The last I know of was in a place called Kirkintilloch in 1968. So there is no reason why the same mechanism could not be introduced into law for the whole of the UK for items like capital punishment,

But for safeguard within CP there must also be a mechanism of punishing anyone shown to have contributed to a false guilty verdict by insisting that such a person have the sentence originally handed down to the defendant if that person can be proven to have knowingly committed perjury in any statement used in or given at the trial. This should prevent anyone being fitted up for an offence they did not commit.

3 August 2011 at 01:04  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

UK Fred

Your suggestion wouldn't have helped James Hanratty.

And, if there had been the death sentence at the time, the Guilford Four.

3 August 2011 at 01:11  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Mr. Dodo:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did not the Court of Appeal find Hanratty's guilt to be proved beyond doubt, following the DNA testing of his corpse?

As for the 'Guildford Four' their convictions were declared 'unsafe and unsatisfactory' - which is perhaps not quite the same thing as being declared innocent?

3 August 2011 at 02:34  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thats the only real flaw so far in that the police have to do there job properly in the first place , and less considerations of extranious pre arguments in the crime .

But I cannot see how we could get back to the judges having there own court sentencing , would a home sec buckle under media outcry?

We are some distance now from that construct of legal system , some judges were renowned full measure sentencers , particulary on repeat offenders .

Ken Clark will perhaps remeber what it was like in criminal justice in his younger days , be interesting if he ever writes somthing (hopefully unbiased) on what it was like to work in , on the death penalty cases .But there arnt that many who have a lving memory of what differences have occured in conjunction with the politcs as well .

I note Turkey EUs asscension is on the cards , I think I would leave that one for some considerble time, or limit it to to just trade , better safe than sorry for all concerned .

3 August 2011 at 02:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Dean Bacardi's grisly list, we could add 'firing squad'.

3 August 2011 at 04:59  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

His Grace has presented a case for restoration of the death penalty that is legally, morally, ethically and theologically sound. There would be challenging issues to consider e.g. mitigating circumstances, and the sanity of the offender. There must be rights of appeal and very stringent safeguards against miscarriages of justice.

The State has a duty to protect all its citizens. Jailing murderers for the rest of their lives would not entirely rule out the possibility of them re-offending. Prison staff and other prisoners certainly remain at risk. Society is not obliged to waste resources keeping murderers in jail. The money could be better spent to compensate and support their victims. Capital Punishment can therefore be justified, but only as a “lesser evil.”

A huge number of signatures would be required to prevent the petition being kicked into the long grass, and many people will be reluctant to sign if they suspect that the promoters desire for justice has been contaminated by a thirst for vengeance.

3 August 2011 at 06:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"His Grace has presented a case for restoration of the death penalty that is legally, morally, ethically and theologically sound."

No. It may be a valid argument but it is not sound, unless one is a Christian.

3 August 2011 at 06:20  
Blogger len said...

There are two important issues which should have been decided by the UK public.
One,the joining /or not/of the European Union.
Two, capital punishment.

3 August 2011 at 07:19  
Blogger len said...

I would be very interested to know the true figures for those who have been released from prison after being convicted for committing murder and have re- offended.
The Government doesn`t seem to be keen to release the figures.
With the current climate of cut- backs the amount of surveillance on criminals who have committed serious crimes must be limited and non existent in many cases.
The protection of society must be paramount and surely must take first place in a rational Society.

3 August 2011 at 07:51  
Blogger len said...

Dodo,
A hypothetical question, (which incidentally has happened )
If you knew that a convicted killer (having served his sentence) when released would kill again, would you respect his 'human rights' and release him regardless.?

3 August 2011 at 07:57  
Anonymous Greg Tingey said...

Captital Punishment...
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET IT WRONG ?

You have just had Sally Clarke hung for killing her child ... and then it turns out that one of the "expert" witnesses was lying, and the forensic "evidence" was shite ... now what?

Which is why captial punishment can never return.
10, Rillington Place to you too ....

And incidentally, all the "god"-bothering and reference to biblical precedent is irrelevant claptrap.
A collection of Bronze_Age goatherders' myths is no way to guide a society.

3 August 2011 at 08:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Captital Punishment...
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET IT WRONG ?'

You ask God to forgive you.

Judas could have done the same.

3 August 2011 at 08:31  
Anonymous tony b said...

Anonymous - so here you are worried about the killer suddenly and not the innocent victim. Funny that. The killer asking God to forgive them is scant help to the innocent victim and their family.

3 August 2011 at 08:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘The killer asking God to forgive them is scant help to the innocent victim and their family.’

‘The killer’ killed Jesus first (in each case). That is why God, when asked in repentance, forgives without consulting the victim.

God has clearly approved of the death penalty to be paid by the murderer.

3 August 2011 at 08:50  
Anonymous Caedmon's Cat said...

While I recognise the theological principles that justify the death penalty, I have some grave reservations. If ever a society were disqualified to exercise the death penalty, surely it is this present one - by dint of the fact that there's no longer any collective moral authority by which it can confidently sentence the guilty; the formerly general recognition of Judaeo-Christian (biblical) morality and values has disappeared - thanks to the machinations of the liberal secularist elite. If this establishment can't be trusted to keep its own house in order, how can it possibly be relied on to impartially exercise such a solemn undertaking? And courts have made some spectacular blunders in applying it in the past - as many contributors have rightly pointed out.

3 August 2011 at 08:57  
Anonymous IanCad said...

YG, I do hope you are getting paid in some form or other for the astonishing amount of time you must spend in enlightening your flock.
I am against the death penalty. As a married man, and thus being constantly made aware of my bad judgement and other failings, the risk of a wrong decision, on my part, is too great.
A referendum (which this petition would lead to) should be no part of a representative form of government. It will lead to the tyranny of a pure democacy. A look at the US justice system should confirm this. The election of (up to the state level) judges, sheriffs and prosecutors has led to a prison nation. The "Hang 'em High" crowd will always outnumber the merciful.

3 August 2011 at 09:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘As a married man, and thus being constantly made aware of my bad judgement and other failings, the risk of a wrong decision, on my part, is too great.’

Equally the error can go in the other direction. And then if the State does not carry out the execution – then men will, eventually, come to the conclusion that they must.

3 August 2011 at 09:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not too difficult to predict that our treacherous Lib/Lab/Con MPs would allow a debate on “the establishment of sharia law" -- as if they have not already quietly sanctioned its establishment in several parts of the UK -- whilst simultaneously ignoring petitions for even a mere discussion on the EU or capital punishment, unless of course the punishment is sharia compliant.

3 August 2011 at 09:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I must say that my views have changed and that I now favor capital punishment, at least in principle, but only in extreme cases when no other punishment can satisfy the demands of justice.
The reason for this is quite simple. Justice in God's eyes requires that the response to an offense - whether against God or against humanity - be proportionate. The lex talionis, the "law of the talion," served as a restraint, a limitation, that punishment would be no greater than the crime. Yet, implied therein is a standard that the punishment should be at least as great as the crime. One frequently finds among Christians the belief that Jesus' so-called "love-ethic" sets aside the "law of of the talion." To the contrary, Jesus affirms the divine basis of Old Testament ethics. Nowhere does Jesus set aside the requirements of civil law.
Furthermore, it leads to a perversion of legal justice to confuse the sphere of private relations with that of civil law. While the thief on the cross found pardon in the sight of God ("Today you will be with me in Paradise"), that pardon did not extend to eliminating the consequences of his crime ("We are being justly punished, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds").
What about mercy? someone is inclined to ask. My response is simple. There can be no mercy where justice is not satisfied. Justice entails receiving what we in fact deserve; we did in fact know better. Mercy is not receiving what we in truth deserve. To be punished, however severely, because we indeed deserve it, as C.S. Lewis observed, is to be treated with dignity as human beings created in the image of God. Conversely, to abandon the criteria of righteous and just punishment, as Lewis also pointed out, is to abandon all criteria for punishment.
Indeed, I am coming to see that mercy extended to offenders whose guilt is certain yet simply ignored creates a moral travesty which, over time, helps pave the way for collapse of the entire social order. This is essentially the argument of Romans 13. Romans 12 concludes with an apostolic proscription of personal retribution, yet St. Paul immediately follows this with a divinely instituted prescription for punishing moral evil. It is for eminently social reasons that "the authorities" are to wield the sword, the ius gladii: due to human depravity and the need for moral-social order the civil magistrate punishes criminal behavior. The implication of Romans 13 is that by not punishing moral evil the authorities are not performing their God-appointed responsibility in society.
Paul's teaching in Romans 13 squares with his personal experience. Testifying before Festus, the Apostle certifies: "If...I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die."

Frank Colson

3 August 2011 at 09:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contemporary society seems totally unwilling to assign moral responsibility to anyone. Everything imaginable is due to a dysfunctional family or to having had our knuckles rapped while we were in grade-school. Ours is a day in which "abuse excuses" have proliferated beyond our wildest dreams. We really have reached a point where the Menendez brothers plead for mercy - and get it! - because they are orphans, after acknowledging that they made themselves orphans by killing their parents.

But in spite of the flaws of the system, I have come to believe that God in fact requires capital justice, at least in the case of premeditated murder where there is no doubt of the offender's guilt. This is, after all, the one crime in the Bible for which no restitution was possible. Lest we believe the Old Testament was characterized by indiscriminate capital justice, Old Testament law painstakingly distinguished between premeditated murder and involuntary manslaughter; hence, the function of the cities of refuge. Israel's elders, we can be assured, would have adjudicated well at the gate. In the case of involuntary manslaughter, deliverance out of the hand of the avenger occurred. In the case of murder, the convicted criminal was put to death.

The attitude of the biblical writers, that judgment - both temporal and eschatological - is a certain reality for those who disobey or reject God's authority. We'll never know how many potential murderers are deterred by the threat of a death penalty, just as we will never know how many lives may be saved by it. But at the bare minimum, it may deter a convict sentenced to life from killing a prison guard or another convict. (In such a case no other punishment is appropriate because all lesser punishments have been exhausted.) And it will certainly prevent a convicted murderer from murdering again. In this regard, I find wisdom in the words of John Stuart Mill:

As for what is called the failure of death punishment, who is able to judge of that? We partly know who those are whom it has not deterred; but who is there who knows whom it has deterred, or how many human beings it has saved who would have lived to be murderers if that awful association had not been thrown round the idea of murder from their earliest infancy?

The death penalty is warranted and should be implemented only in those cases where evidence is certain, in accordance with the biblical standard and where no other punishment can satisfy the demands of justice. In the public debate over the death penalty, we are dealing with values of the highest order: respect for the sacredness of human life and its protection, the preservation of order in society, and the attainment of justice through law. The function of biblical sanctions against a heinous crime such as murder is to discourage the wanton destruction of innocent life. Undergirding the biblical sanctions against murder is the utter sacred character of human life.

The shedding of blood in ancient Israel polluted the land - a pollution for which there was no substitute - and thus required the death penalty. This is the significance of the sanctions in Genesis 9 against those who would shed the blood of another. It is because humans are created in the image of God that capital punishment for premeditated murder was to be a perpetual obligation. To kill a person was tantamount to killing God in effigy.

The Noahic covenant recorded in Genesis 9 antedates Israel and the Mosaic code; it transcends Old Testament law per se and mirrors ethical legislation that is binding for all cultures and eras. The sanctity of human life is rooted in the universal creation ethic and thus retains its force in society. Any culture that fails to distinguish between the criminal and the punitive act, in my opinion, is a culture that cannot survive.

Frank Colson

3 August 2011 at 09:43  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Anon @09:29
("Today you will be with me in Paradise")
Actually it should read; "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise."
Totally different.

3 August 2011 at 09:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr IanCad

Most grateful for the correction.

3 August 2011 at 09:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

IanCad: "Actually it should read; "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise."
Totally different."

Do we assume the punctuation and its placing or is it implicit in the way the language was written?

3 August 2011 at 10:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DanJO

Repent of your wrong-doing. Ask God to forgive you.

Run from the wrath that is to come.

3 August 2011 at 10:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Albert

Thanks for your comment.

I think that neuroscience does leave Christian concepts of moral responsibility pretty empty. We are what we are. Of course, like many organisms we can be trained to behave a certain way and the law and punishment play their part in regulating our behaviour: for example, having picked up a few speeding tickets over the last decade I now watch my speed very carefully; if the law was not enforced I would regularly drive at 90 on the motorway. "Morality" - as internalised by people - is also a from of social control

My point was that we should look at punishment in essentially utilitarian terms (which could logically include "making an example of someone" rather than with reference to theology

Peter Wood

3 August 2011 at 10:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"making an example of someone"

That whatever it is: cannot be just.

3 August 2011 at 10:47  
Anonymous IanCad said...

DanJo @ 10:23,

As I understand, there was no punctuation in the original text. Most translations supply a comma or period before the word "Today" thus leading to much theological confusion.

3 August 2011 at 10:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Wood

When we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’.

CS Lewis

3 August 2011 at 10:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Anon: "Repent of your wrong-doing. Ask God to forgive you. Run from the wrath that is to come."

Which god? It sounds like Allah from what you write but, well, who knows. It could be any and, let's face it, it probably doesn't matter which god hypothesis you choose as you'll probably be wrong.

3 August 2011 at 11:05  
Anonymous tony b said...

Anon. The murderer. Not the innocent man.

3 August 2011 at 11:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Frank: "We'll never know how many potential murderers are deterred by the threat of a death penalty, just as we will never know how many lives may be saved by it."

We can have a rough guess at the numbers though by looking at the murders rates per capita over the last 100 years or so. We might want to adjust for certain social factors too, like population density and social cohesion.

Of course, people commit murder for many different reasons. The death penalty probably has no effect on potential spree killers. It probably has no effect on so-called crimes of passion either.

3 August 2011 at 11:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Peter,

Thank you for your reply.

I think that neuroscience does leave Christian concepts of moral responsibility pretty empty.

In a way that's the point I was wanting you to unpack. Do you mean that neuroscience shows our actions are really causally determined? If so, why is it Christian morality that is empty? Surely it is all morality that would go (or at least any semblance of moral choice).

3 August 2011 at 11:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with the argument based on “convincing” statistics is that no person who is in principle opposed to capital punishment will be sufficiently convinced by any statistics that are suggestive of changing trends in criminal justice. This was graphically illustrated some years ago at a symposium on criminal justice held at Arizona State University. Two distinguished abolitionists, Professors Hugo Bedau of Tufts University and Charles Black of Yale Law School, were asked whether they could be persuaded to change their convictions if in fact statistics brought conclusive proof that the death penalty was serving as a strong deterrent. Both replied that this would not change their views. Asked if they would remain abolitionists even if homicides in this nation ballooned to a dizzying 1,000 percent, they responded in the affirmative.

The truth is that an abolitionist will remain an abolitionist based on passionate ideological commitments. Statistics will not change any bias that is rooted in deep-seated convictions. Above and beyond any statistical verification, abolitionists choose to ignore the obvious implication of the death penalty — namely, that it eliminates the possibility of the convict repeating his capital offense. This consideration is fully aside from the $600,000 cost of imprisoning a convict for life.

It is remarkable how insistent abolitionists can be in denying the likelihood that punishment can deter criminals. Sadly, this often occurs at the expense of time-tested wisdom and common sense. Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the criminal mindset was done some years back by Drs. Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow in their landmark work, The Criminal Personality. This study was based on 16 years of observing 255 criminal patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. Yochelson, a respected neuropsychiatrist who died in 1976, started the Program for the Investigation of Criminal Behavior in 1961. He was joined by psychologist Samenow in 1970. The two researchers’ conclusions proved to be controversial: criminals were found neither to be victims of society’s problems nor of “character disorders”; they acted with deliberation and were in control of their behavior.

The authors also concluded that the fear of death was very strong, persistent, and pervasive in the criminal’s life. Some crimes, it was observed, were ruled out because of these fears. It is indeed ironic that abolitionists claim the burden of proof for the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent rests on the shoulders of its advocates. Most human beings, after all, are inclined to avoid situations or circumstances that are likely to produce unpleasant, painful, or fatal results.

Does the fear of death deter? Hoodlums in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the nation know the answer. Given the growing dilemma of witness intimidation in murder cases, law enforcement authorities note that the refusal of witnesses to testify, for fear of being eliminated themselves, is making it difficult to prosecute murder suspects. “It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest problems we face,” concedes the chief of the U.S. attorney’s office in the nation’s capital.

If capital punishment does not serve to deter the potential murderer, the abolitionist will thus need to acknowledge the grim reality that neither will any other form of punishment. (Thus, any punishment is arbitrary.) If, for the sake of argument, capital punishment is implemented under the mistaken notion that it deters, the lives of convicted murderers are lost. If, on the other hand, capital punishment is abolished due to the mistaken belief that it does not deter, then innocent lives — indeed, many lives both within and without the prison system — are lost.

3 August 2011 at 11:24  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Seems to me that even given the notion that God exists, He has made a crappy job of leaving anything approaching clear instructions regarding temporal justice.

Parts of the Bible says this - parts of the Bible contradicts - part of the Bible say something else - what a load of improbable nonsense on which to base so called moral authority to condemn a fully mature adult to death.

Surely we are of our time. That which passed for the applied logic of the day thousands of years ago has little direct relevance to the present. But of course some basic rules and norms will apply - pain hurts; shit stinks; murder will happen - how we deal with the issues changes as we have changed. We should not have the issues of today fudged by muddled biblical references - that will not bring about justice. We have the capacity to think for our selves - we should be guided only by that which is appropriate to today.

We just don't live in those times anymore.

3 August 2011 at 11:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"But of course some basic rules and norms will apply - pain hurts; shit stinks; murder will happen - how we deal with the issues changes as we have changed."

Actually, mine smells of roses. As no doubt some people here have guessed. :)

3 August 2011 at 11:27  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Chortle! :-D

3 August 2011 at 11:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opponents of the death penalty are quick to cite the potential for executing an innocent person. The fact that potential for error exists in the criminal justice system is undeniable. Yet no domain of our legal system is predicated on a zero-percent chance of error; the system is indeed fallible. This is not to say, however, that the system is not workable. Fallible people work nevertheless for just results. Sadly, it is rare that abolitionists confront “the other side of the story.” Fifteen years, 30 years, or life in prison inevitably afford the murderer the possibility of escape, pardon, or parole, and more tragically, the chance to kill again — whether inside or outside the prison. Abolitionists appear unwilling to concede that innocent deaths resulting from released or paroled criminals are far more frequent — and tragic — than the rare instance of an innocent convict dying. If the risk that an innocent person will die is present with or without the death penalty, why not devise the system in favour of society and not the convict?

Another difficulty with the abolitionist argument of erroneous execution is the degree to which the media inevitably discount or obscure forensic evidence against a convict — evidence of which the general public has little or no knowledge. Consequently, a shift occurs in death penalty cases from adducing and evaluating forensic evidence to the exploiting of public sentimentality.

Compassion, when it is anchored in objective morality, is redemptive and restorative in nature. Historically, this has meant that compassion has been (necessarily) directed toward the victims of crime. “Compassion” that is directed toward the violent criminal, at the expense of the truly oppressed victim, is a moral-legal miscarriage (Isa. 10:1-4). For those, both inside and outside of the criminal justice system, whose sense of compassion is not guided by universally normative notions of good and evil, innocence or guilt, it is often the murderer who — fully aside from corroborated evidence — is regarded as the “victim.”

Carried to an extreme in this century, “compassion” for certain “poor” (e.g., Stalin and the Communists), abetted by “compassionate progressives” in the West, resulted in the murder of about 10 million “rich” in the gulags. Ethically speaking, when compassion supplants morality and truth as the highest value, the results are horrific. One political historian estimates that roughly 170 million lives worldwide have been deliberately sacrificed in this century alone because of political-ideological (i.e., non-military) reasons — in the name of compassion, to be sure. As former Attorney General Ramsey Clark once noted, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom-fighter. When the notions of objective “good and evil” fall into disuse, moral judgments can be no more than personal opinions.

3 August 2011 at 11:43  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Does the death penalty for premeditated murder constitute an “uncivilized” or “barbaric” response by society to crime, as many abolitionists fervently maintain? The answer depends fundamentally on how a society perceives the moral difference between crime and punishment. Those who contend that capital punishment is barbaric are incapable of morally distinguishing between punishment and criminal acts themselves. To abandon the criteria of righteous and just punishment, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, is to abandon all criteria for punishment. Thus, punishing the innocent can be justified, since it has nothing at all to do with desert. Moreover, in a moral vacuum, retribution and restoration are indistinguishable from revenge.

Contrarily, a view of life that acknowledges proportionality for crimes is not predicated on “barbarity” (a description that many abolitionists have curiously chosen not to use regarding abortion), but rather on life’s inherently sacred character. To be punished — however severely — because we in fact should have known better is to be treated as human beings, endowed with dignity and moral agency. A society unwilling to impose the penalty of death upon those who murder in cold blood is a society that has deserted its responsibility to uphold the unique value of human life.

In the context of a moral universe, premeditated murder is unique in terms of significance and severity of consequence. By biblical standards, it is the one crime for which there exists no possible ransom or restitution (Num. 35). It is precisely the acknowledgment of the reality of “good and evil,” as well as moral accountability in the present world, that allows the Judeo-Christian framework of law to infuse the criminal justice system with moral guidelines of an enduring nature. The biblical teaching on punishment derives from a world view in which the absolute moral good of the Creator and the moral depravity of human beings cohere. While just punishment is scandalous to the secular mind, it is central to the biblical mindset. A foreshadow of divine judgment, punishment is the necessary restoration of morality and social justice.

Rendering life for life in the case of premeditated murder is not to be carried out in the context of personal vengeance. Social justice requires — indeed demands — uniform standards of sentencing. Certainly “due process of law,” “equal protection under the law,” and “equal justice for all” are meant to avoid the morally repugnant effects of unequal justice. However, a truly “civilized” society indeed will distinguish between mercy and justice. Civil authorities make a mockery of justice by considering the life of an offender of more value than the life of an innocent victim who did not have the luxury of even choosing life incarceration. A sense of “justice” that expresses undue sentiment toward the murderer, hailing him as a type of champion of “victims’ rights,” is a perversion of true justice and a travesty of monumental proportions.

3 August 2011 at 11:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thus, punishing the innocent can be justified, since it has nothing at all to do with desert.

3 August 2011 at 11:53  
Blogger Albert said...

Anonymous,

Ethically speaking, when compassion supplants morality and truth as the highest value, the results are horrific.

This is a good point. The ease with which some utilitarians allow infanticide is chilling (if logically cogent given certain seemingly compassionate assumptions).

3 August 2011 at 11:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contrary to modern practice in most jurisdictions, punishment for a crime and restitution for the victim are interrelated concepts. In the case of premeditated murder, compensation is not available as an alternative; thus it should carry a mandatory death sentence, in recognition of the sacred character of human life.
Arguments that seek to undermine the authority or binding force of the universal moral imperative found in Genesis 9 — an imperative that is assumed throughout the whole of biblical revelation — have little to commend them. Responsible involvement in this debate by the Christian community must proceed from a sober “consensus” reading of relevant biblical data — a reading that, on the balance, favors retention of the death penalty.

Contrary to modern abolitionist arguments, the inherent morality of the death penalty does not stand or fall on the fallibility of judges, jurors, and lawyers, or the government’s ability to administer justice “fairly.” Neither is it predicated on the use or abuse of Eighth Amendment provisions, the possibility of mistaken executions, or vengeance for the aggrieved. All these factors, powerful and volatile as they are in informing debate over capital punishment, are insufficient in explaining a moral standard of justice by which to measure and respond to violent criminal acts. Most notably, all are susceptible to excessive human manipulation. A framework for criminal justice can in fact administer justice only to the extent that a consistent, unchanging canon of justice is adhered to and advanced. The failings of the system lie not in the fallibility of the instruments who execute justice, but rather in our failure to acknowledge and implement an abiding moral standard.

Left in the hands of moral philosophers who exalt sentiment over substance, society’s framework for criminal justice becomes devoid of moral accountability and inevitably turns on those who are to benefit from its protection. In its place is the triumph of the “Little Man.” Well-meaning Christians only add to the ethical confusion surrounding the debate by calling for abolition to the death penalty in the name of some “higher” Christian ethic.17 To suggest that the ultimate human crime should not be met with the ultimate punishment at the hands of the civil authorities is not “compassion” as some would have it; rather, it is moral prostitution of the highest order. If a person cannot be made to answer for a capital crime, then everything in the world is arbitrary and nothing is certain.

Reducing matters of morality to private elitism, public opinion, or mushy religious sentiment will only obscure the pressing issues of our culture. How contemporary American society in the future will view the moral difference between crime and punishment depends to a great extent on the church’s involvement in ongoing cultural debate.

All notes are from the Christian Research Institute, USA.

Thank you for taking the time out to think through the issues.

3 August 2011 at 12:38  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len said...
"Dodo ... If you knew that a convicted killer (having served his sentence) when released would kill again, would you respect his 'human rights' and release him regardless.?"

Don't be silly!

I supported the life long imprisonment of Hindley, regardless of her 'human rights', which, in my opinion, she forfeited, because of the heinous nature of her crimes and the inability to judge whether she might reoffend. However, I did not support the State killing her to exact revenge or discourage others from committing similar crimes.

3 August 2011 at 12:44  
Anonymous Philip said...

"It is incongruous that those who endorse abortion (the taking of an innocent life) baulk at the taking of a guilty life by capital punishment." (Len at 2013).

Absolutely correct. Shows the utter moral perversion of the Lib Left.

For example, the BBC. Interesting how they don’t take the opportunity of the Norway massacre to encourage debate on the death penalty. Rather they prefer in recent years to encourage debate on i.e. be cheer-leaders for, legalising murder of sick and elderly people.

As for Mr Cameron who opposes the death penalty for murder, i.e. shedding innocent blood, perhaps he would explain what measures he will urgently introduce to stop the slaughter of innocent unborn children, which surely he must consider should not occur in a civilised society.

The case for the death penalty for murder is not our desire for revenge, nor even primarily to deter, (although this is legitimate reason for it, and to deter genuine wrong-doing is a reason for the whole justice system which should even instill fear of doing wrong), but because the shedding of innocent human blood morally requires it. And civil authorities are the appointed means to dispense this justice in their God-given role to restrain evil and promote good, to dispense justice and protect the public.

As Mr Brievic admitted his crime and the evidence was obvious, surely he should have been speedily executed by now.

3 August 2011 at 12:54  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

...Thus, punishing the innocent can be justified, since it has nothing at all to do with desert...

? - !

You need locking up Singh.

3 August 2011 at 13:08  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Why are The Norwegians trying to get Breivik tried in the Hague for 'crimes against humanity'?

Why won't the socialists try him in Norway?

Is there soemthing wrong with an inherently socialist criminal justice system?

Why are the socialists repudiating their own criminal justice system?

3 August 2011 at 13:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Dreadnaught

Calm down dear and see it in context:

To abandon the criteria of righteous and just punishment, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, is to abandon all criteria for punishment. Thus, punishing the innocent can be justified, since it has nothing at all to do with desert. Moreover, in a moral vacuum, retribution and restoration are indistinguishable from revenge.

3 August 2011 at 13:14  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Is a Norwegian accused under Norwegian law to be denied being tried under Norwegian law?

But if that were to be the case then the moral defect must lie with the Norwegian people.

But if that were to be accepted: then it would mean that Norway itself was on trial.

3 August 2011 at 13:20  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said

In accordance with the Old Covenant, laid down by divine command even before the Mosaic Law (Gen 9:6), and contiguous with the New Covenant, which nowhere abrogates the provision, the laws of the realm may punish with death. Into the question whether capital punishment is advisable or not there is no need to enter.

Why do I rail against religion? Because the likes of Cranmer happily justify any action if he believes it is sanctioned by a ridiculous and archaic text written (so we are told) several millenia ago.

This is the same argument that justified 7/11, 7/7 and countless other atrocities undertaken in the name of God.

There is no humanity here, just blind, thoughtless and ignorant obedience. Dress it up in fine phrases but it is still pig ignorance, bereft of any moral authority.

3 August 2011 at 14:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...

All right Davis explain to us your theory of crime and punishment.

3 August 2011 at 14:54  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis does not understand what he reads.

For example 'Old Covenan': just blind, thoughtless and ignorant; dress it up in fine phrases but it is still pig ignorance.

3 August 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger Ian said...

I believe that a truer form of justice is served by letting the offender rot in prison ala hindley. She failed to repent but she had the opportunity. If she had then '...all the joy in heaven is served by 1 sinner who repenteth...'. This is not served by state sanctioned killing. It fails to allow the sinner to repent.

3 August 2011 at 17:07  
Blogger Hazel said...

Graham Davis

Cranmer said

In accordance with the Old Covenant, laid down by divine command even before the Mosaic Law (Gen 9:6), and contiguous with the New Covenant, which nowhere abrogates the provision, the laws of the realm may punish with death. Into the question whether capital punishment is advisable or not there is no need to enter.

Why do I rail against religion? Because the likes of Cranmer happily justify any action if he believes it is sanctioned by a ridiculous and archaic text written (so we are told) several millenia ago.

Indeed, I haven't yet had an explanation why Ex 22:19 was cited but not Ex 22:18 - right next door to each other after all.

3 August 2011 at 17:35  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Dr Singh said "Why are The Norwegians trying to get Breivik tried in the Hague for 'crimes against humanity'?".

Passing the buck has become endemic. We saw the same thing in the Catholic Church when the well named bishop Rembert Weakland, referred a paedophile to the Vatican instead of dealing it with himself by defrocking the pervert and reporting him to the police. The problem is that some bishops like Weakland should themselves be defrocked and until we get rid them the cancer remains.

3 August 2011 at 17:46  
Blogger len said...

How about the Lockarbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds, the man now has become a 'martyr' and made a complete mockery of the legal system.

Hows that for Justice?

3 August 2011 at 20:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My issue with the death penalty is that the State should not have the right over the individual.

Reducing the state is paramount.

If it is wrong to kill why should we allow the state to bypass this wrong.

3 August 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len said...
"How about the Lockarbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds, the man now has become a 'martyr' and made a complete mockery of the legal system.
Hows that for Justice?"

You do have a nasy streak for a professing Christian. Does the goodness of our actions ultimately depend on how others repond to those acts?

What about St Paul and the Trinity?

3 August 2011 at 22:35  
Blogger len said...

So justice is now for people with 'nasty streaks' Dodo,
You really have no idea.

Look up 'the trinity' in the Bible for me and quote me some verses please.

And Paul claimed to be an Apostle so I suppose he is then?, unless you know different?

You remind me somewhat of the Pharisees in the Bible asking 'loaded questions' hoping to catch one out.

My authenticity as a Christian lies with the Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps you would like to ask Him if you have any questions about me.
Should be an interesting conversation.

Bless you. And in the Words of Dave Allen "May your God go with you"

3 August 2011 at 22:49  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Len! Bless you! You have it exactly; I've been trying figure-out for some time now, whom Dodo reminds me off : a bloody smart-arsed, smug pharisee! (With a side-order of 'snivelling'...)

3 August 2011 at 23:48  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len

Evasion, evasion, evasion.

It was you who unsolicited said Paul may have been inspired by Satan and stated his writings contradict the recorded words of Jesus. You too who question the Triune nature of God although it is there in the Gospels for a child to see.

Maybe it is you who are creating Christ in your own image rather than the flaw resting with me.

4 August 2011 at 01:12  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Ps

The Pharasees were trying to catch Jesus out because of His greater understanding and knowledge of Judaism. Not really suggesting a comparison are you!

4 August 2011 at 01:15  
Blogger prziloczek said...

Do you ever read down to here? Me, I am theoretically in favour of the death penalty, of course.
The problem is the lawyers who gain remittance and who delay the process often leaving a wretched criminal on death row for years and years.
Nobody - not even Hannibal Lector deserves that.

4 August 2011 at 07:06  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Just to clear up something regarding the introduction of the death penalty by the EU (I am garteful to a Dr Dennis Cooper who has supplied the following correction):


I've seen that argued, but it relates to extra-judicial killings rather than death sentences imposed by courts.

Article 2 of the original Convention ran:

"Article 2 – Right to life"

"Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:

in defence of any person from unlawful violence;

in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;

in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection."

Protocols 6 and now 13 have amended the first paragraph by completely prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty by courts, but as far as I know the remaining provisions have not been changed.

Before getting too alarmed about the EU signing up to the ECHR and therefore to those provisions allowing exceptions to the general principle laid down in the first paragraph, it's worth remembering that all of the EU member states are already signed up to them, in the case of the UK since the Convention first came into force in 1953.'


In other words officials, it appears, are free to shoot rioting students for example.

4 August 2011 at 07:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

This is worth a look:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/3867/death_penalty_ga08.pdf

4 August 2011 at 09:48  
Anonymous Knox said...

Guido has shown that there is real support for capital punishment in the UK, and as much as 30% of the electorate might support it. This is clearly an issue MPs need to spend time talking about.

4 August 2011 at 23:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God that St.Paul's writings about earthly authority being granted by God were not heeded by Winston Churchill - else we WOULD have capital punishment,courtesy of living under a Nazi regime.

I accept the thrust of YG's argument on lefties and death sentences , but you could have used better illustrations thaN the words of Hodge.
Expressing pleasure in Saddam being "held to account" is not the same as condoning the nature of punishment.


Marcus Foxall

5 August 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger len said...

The writings of St Paul should never be taken on their own because they are open to misinterpretation.They could easily lead one off into believing 'another Gospel'.
I do not believe this was St Paul`s intention.
Paul`s writings must be read in conjunction with Jesus instructions and commands, the two must never be separated.

7 August 2011 at 14:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

So, two main e-petitions:

In favour of restoring it: 9,727
Against restoring it: 17,004


so far.

8 August 2011 at 06:42  
Anonymous Ade said...

The only reason that the Pwers that be are testing the public attitude towards the death penalty is that the EU already has a death penalty buried in a footnote of a fotnote within the EU Lisbon treaty.
This whole charade is simply to present the illusion to the electorate that we still make our own laws in this country, which we most certainly do not.

The EU Death Penalty waiting in the Wings

15 August 2011 at 02:08  

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