I suppose the latest tawdry tale of a US execution will briefly raise the 'Capital Punishment Debate' again, though it’s a defunct one in this country. As I’ve become more right-wing over the years, as most sensible people do, I’ve only become more convinced of the wrongness of the use of execution as a punishment. That shouldn’t be surprising really since the strongest (and a wholly sufficient) argument against it is a conservative one: that the State, being composed of flawed humans and corruptible systems, sometimes gets the wrong man even when it has the best of intentions, and therefore ought not to be trusted to kill its own citizens because killing them is a uniquely irreversible punishment. There aren’t many good arguments in favour of capital punishment and the most commonly used one is the very worst: that it meets a need for societal revenge (my perception is that a great many intelligent rightwing Americans only end up using these bad arguments because the debate is part of that country's narrow but intense left-right polarisation in political discourse, and therefore arguing against execution puts you on the same ‘side’ as such buffoons as Sean Penn, which is less tolerable than acknowledging that Penn’s conclusions may be righter than his reasonings).
Ultimately the Worst Argument reduces - because it is based on our sense of outrage and the (correct but not pertinent) notion that some crimes really deserve death - to a defence of mob rule. In which case we may as well junk civilisation now since the great achievement of the rule of law is to acknowledge that the little voice in your head, of justified outrage and desire for immediate righting of wrongs, must be suppressed while some sort of least-worst objective rational process, flawed as it is, takes its course. All of which brings me on to the hellish ordeal of Eddie Thompson: a true 21st Century nightmare that demonstrates, for the zillionth time, why everyone is innocent until proven guilty and that mob rule is the opposite of justice.