I have other posts in the queue, but I feel half-compelled to say something about the elephant in the room (at least if you pay attention to current events), the Troy Davis execution. What with my niche interest in criminal law and all.
But writing anything feels pretty empty and useless right now. Perusing the interwebs last night, it all seems so backward. I see a bunch of liberals who, after months of demanding jobs and health insurance from our elected officials, are suddenly disillusioned with the awesome power of government. In the other corner, we have a bunch of pro-life, small government conservatives who are perfectly fine with government officials dispensing eternal justice despite all doubts. Yes, of course, it’s different for you than it is for the people on the other side. Except no it isn’t. Go away.
I think Jonah Goldberg, an editor of the conservative National Review, captured a common sentiment in this tweet:
I'm in tweet crossfire now. FTR: I'm 100% in favor of death penalty for truly deserving, 100% in favor of not killing innocent people.
You could easily spin that to a position more amenable to people on the left. Say, “I’m in favor of investment in green jobs, just not debacles like Solyndra,” or “I oppose war, except when a guy I like is waging them.”
The issue is this: who makes that call? How do we determine the “truly deserving”? I think our justice system is one of the best in the world and has many safeguards. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t mess up. A lot. So I refuse to support things that give it more power – mandatory minimum sentences, registries for every type of criminal, and yes, the death penalty.
Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t effing trust other people that much. Especially people who acquire vast amounts of power by winning perverse popularity contests and control inconceivable amounts of money that don’t belong to them. I don’t trust them to spend that money wisely. I don’t trust them when they tell me they can create high-paying, permanent jobs with their tears. I don’t trust them when they tell me that plan X is going to have effect Y. Hell, I had a team of about 10 actual experts looking at the exact same documents to help exactly one person, me, determine how to treat his cancer. You saw how fun that decision was. And you expect me to trust a bunch of elected lawyers to overhaul a health care system?
I don’t trust them. I don’t trust fallible humans subject to emotion, prejudices, and politics enough to give them ever-increasing amounts of power over me and my fellow citizens. Including the power to hand down irreversible “justice.”