Having read an erroneous blog post, entitled 'Capital punishment, good or bad?', I feel compelled nay, duty bound, to reply. Mr Lewy presents a, if you will, juvenile case; one which has been created through the approach of an inexperienced youth. That isn't to say this is a failing on his part; everyone was once young.
The best demonstration of this is the 'reasons for prison sentences.' Perhaps the biggest reason for prison is omitted; protection. Will the punishment sufficiently protect the public? A lifetime in prison satisfies the aims; the man gives up his life, people are put off committing the same offense, and the public is protected. However, this may lead the opposition to claim that the dead can't hurt anyone so the death penalty is the best form of protection.
But how many of us feel protected when the threat of death hangs over us? Let's not be foolish, wrongful convictions occur all the time. And if the punishment is death, there's no going back; mistakes should be able to be undone. Derek Bentley and Timothy Evans were both pardoned in the 1950s after they had been killed; you cannot say that such a mistake is acceptable. Walter Rowland in 1947 was convicted and sentenced to death but someone else confessed to the crime; the judiciary makes mistakes. People should not be fearful of the state or the judiciary; if I were accused of a murder I should have full confidence that justice will be served. But the pragmatic truth is that I wouldn't feel safe now, and I'll be more fearful if death loomed of me. We all would.
I also question the nature of Mr. Lewy's politics. Conservatives have traditionally said that the state should have less power and control (hence privatisation) but for some reason the power of life and death is not too much control. The state having power over someone's very existence is not conservative, it's fascist. But then that's a minor niggle, a small inconsistency.
" The reason for this is because people see him in a prison cell, in a courthouse and they can visibly see that what he has done is wrong, they can see the example that society is trying to set."
As a case against him becoming a martyr if he's killed, this argument is deeply flawed. Those who would be galvanised by his death don't see 'what he has done is wrong' because they don't hold the same view as us. They would see that we see what he has done as wrong and they would disagree. The argument is that if he were killed, apparently for his viewpoint, the people who share his viewpoint would be so outraged by this attack on their beliefs that they might become militant. Death has far more great an impact than imprisonment. Hence the very existence of the word martyr.
We then come to the main issue; should the state take away a fundamental right. In this high emotive case it's easy to say 'kill him' because he admits he did it. But as soon as the case becomes more nuanced there is room for grievous and highly consequential mistakes. You cannot say that a person who is convicted of a double murder is 'more convicted' than another person who did the same thing. If you convict someone but say 'no death penalty for you, we're not certain you're guilty' you are undermining the law. How can two people get two sharply different sentences (one life, one death) for the exact same crime? It makes a mockery of the system.
Even if we were to accept such a ridiculous premise, if there truly is no doubt as to the guilt of the person you are implementing vast amounts of infrastructure for perhaps one death sentence a year; how many Norway shootings do we see in Britain? Almost none. You surely cannot encourage the state to employ such an expensive option when less money can be spent on a punishment that is far more effective on the broader scale.
" How can you claim to have the right to a life when you don't feel the children on Utoya Island do, when you don't feel that the 77 people in Oslo city centre do."
I feel like the children do, and so does the murderer. What's the problem? It seems like you're saying that if I were there I'd say the children should die? This, I think, is known as a strawman fallacy. Just because the children died doesn't mean they should have.
"Obviously he doesn't believe in rights, so why should we enforce them? "
This is despicable. I'm truly shamed to think that such an aspiring person would advocate sinking to the level of a mass murderer. Should the law not be objective? Should the law not be above such a petty remark? The man believes Islam is taking over his country, so should we enforce that view as well as not enforcing the right to life, just as he did? No. The law enforces what is moral; it does not change just because it is convenient to do so. Such a statement is a disgusting display of immorality and injustice.
"I don't agree with this "An eye for an eye" nonsense"
"In the words of Mohandas Gandhi "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." I'm not sure that I buy this argument"
I believe that's called an internal inconsistency; either you've made a mistake or you haven't clearly laid out what you're arguing for or against. You also say that retribution is an aim of punishment but then say you disagree with it. Your assertion that "it wouldn't be very impressive to enforce a 'legal rape'" easily leads to the conclusion that murder shouldn't lead to 'legal murder.' But then you say a murder has 'lost their right to a life' which seems to go against what you said. Your argument doesn't follow logical steps.
"And the most effective form of deterrent is capital punishment."
I found a report on a survey which said that "eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide." Criminals tend not to think of punishment when committing crime and at the level of murder life in prison and death don't evoke much restraint. On paper it would seem logical that the death penalty is the best deterrent but in the real world this holds little water.
To conclude, your argument is poorly constructed. I wouldn't mind so much if the conclusion were 'McDonalds is better than Burger King' but it is about life and death. Such a sensitive and large topic should include logical thought and careful considerations.