The 21st Century Nightmare post and thread below was not an attempt to have a general debate about the rights and wrongs of capital punishment, as if bringing it back in the UK was some sort of a viable option, because clearly it isn’t. It was more that I began to wonder if the occasional bellow (only remaining argument?) from the populist Right – that a majority ‘support’ it – is not only morally and constitutionally irrelevant but actually incoherent, because ‘supporting capital punishment’ is, in terms of practical application, meaningless.
(If I did want to have a debate about the rights and wrongs of capital punishment generally I would certainly mention the usual and well-rehearsed philosophical arguments, such as the internal conceptual problem of a society thinking it is demonstrating that it holds life sacred by punishing murderers with death.)
But our beloved American contingent inevitably broadened the argument because in the States it is still a live issue (if you’ll pardon the expression). Difficult thing to come up against, American exceptionalism. We all hate having our business criticised by forriners, but boy, Americans really hate having their business criticised by forriners…as I suppose you would if you believe your founding documents to be, effectively, sacred texts.
All of which preambling brings me on to the point of this post. Here is a random A-Z list of some of the 137 countries that have banned the death penalty outright:
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuala.
And here is a random A-Z list of some of the 69 countries where capital punishment is still technically permitted (although nearly 90% of actual executions worldwide occur in China, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US alone):
Afghanistan, Burundi, Cuba, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan
Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, United States, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
Full lists are here: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html
So my question is this: is there a more striking anomaly anywhere, in terms of global approaches to ethics and politics, than the fact that the US is on the second list rather than the first?