When there has been brought home to any one, by conclusive evidence, the greatest crime known to the law; and when the attendant circumstances suggest no palliation of the guilt, no hope that the culprit may even yet not be unworthy to live among mankind, nothing to make it probable that the crime was an exception to his general character rather than a consequence of it, then I confess it appears to me that to deprive the criminal of the life of which he has proved himself to be unworthy solemnly to blot him out from the fellowship of mankind and from the catalogue of the living is the most appropriate, as it is certainly the most impressive, mode in which society can attach to so great a crime the penal consequences which for the security of life it is indispensable to annex to it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
An Appropriate Response
Last night John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in Jarratt, Virginia, specifically for the murder of Dean H. Meyers who was gunned down as he pumped gas. But of course Muhammad along with Lee Boyd Malvo was responsible for the murders of ten people in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area in September and October 2002. As an opponent of capital punishment, Muhammad's death sentence initially gave me pause but I have since come around to the view that there are some crimes so heinous, so horrific by their very nature that a death sentence is the only appropriate punishment. John Stuart Mill, in his 1868 Speech In Favor of Capital Punishment, said it best: