A few minutes ago, on Twitter, I suggested that if illegal use of lethal force by the police were a capital crime, it would be much harder to fill the ranks of police forces, and also have additional benefits.
It was, in some degree, a snark, but it led someone to ask about my stand on capital punishment. I’ll answer that here.
For most practical purposes, I believe the state doesn’t have the moral right to take a human life. I do not, however, take that as being true for all times and all places under all circumstances. Usually, when someone says, “Well what about…” it is followed by a description of some heinous crime. But the more heinous the crime, usually, the more likely it is that the person who committed that act is sick; and taking the life of someone who is sick merely for being sick is barbaric. It should also be noted that, in addition to the number of death row inmates being disproportionately minorities, and wildly disproportionately poor and working class, there are also a huge proportion who are mentally impaired to some degree or another. Killing such people is monstrous.
Are there circumstances in which I would favor capital punishment? Well, if you’re talking about State killing, my first question is, what State? A government responsible for Hiroshima, for Nagasaki, for the war crimes against Vietnam and creating dictatorships in South America, the Middle East, Ukraine, a State that, today, is encouraging its police forces to simply shoot us down for the most trivial excuses, well, such a State long ago lost the moral right to take anyone’s life, ever, for anything. Show me a State I can support–for example, a workers state, and show me that, under certain circumstances, it must be willing to take lives and use other terrorist means to preserve itself from Imperialism, and then, yes, I’d be willing to concede that such barbarism might temporarily be necessary. If I am to support the right, in fact the duty, of the working class to take power into its hands, then it would hypocritical not to also support actions necessary for the working class to protect itself from fascist counter-revolution.