Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy posts about an interview the Dallas Morning News had with abolitionist law professor Mark Osler of Baylor University. Professor Osler last year published a book, Jesus on Death Row, summarizing his reflections on a mock trial he organized to see how Jesus would fare in the Lone Star state.
Against my better judgment, I read the interview.
1. The title of the interview is, "What if Jesus had been tried under Texas law?" Of course the answer is easy: He would have not have been given the death penalty, since Texas law provides capital punishment only for murder, and Jesus was not charged with murder.
Thus one need read no further than the title to understand just how deceptive and biased Osler's presentation is. The premise is that, under Texas law, Jesus could wind up on death row. The suggestion beneath the premise is: "How could we be so awful as to even think about executing the Son of God??!!" But the whole thing is a fraud, from the first word on.
2. One of the commenters on the Morning News blog raised that obvious point. The response was that this was a thought experiment, and the reader should just imagine that Jesus was on death row. I found this a wonderfully concrete illustration of how abolitionists insist on disconnecting an inmate's being on death row from the behavior -- namely some grisly murder or murders -- that put him there.
This is an almost comic reflection of the fantasy that we routinely execute the innocent. The theory behind this fantasy -- if it can be called a "theory" -- is that people show up on death row by magic.
3. Professor Osler repeats the false and insulting bromide that retentionists are moved by anger, while abolitionists are moved by humanity and a higher wisdom.
I wonder what it feels like to regard one's self as so superior.
It's natural, I suppose, to feel anger toward cruelty and and sadism, but that is not what lies behind retentionism. What lies behind it is principally the view that a prison sentence, no matter its length, is not justice for such crimes as drawn out child rape and murder, or calculated mass murder such as McVeigh's. For many, the deterrent value of the death penalty, and its consequent saving of many innocent lives, is also a strong reason.
To belittle retentionists as foot-stomping children is arrogant and mendacious, and abolitionists know it. Will they ever stop?