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Osama, Justice, and the Death Penalty

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Liberals today are cheering (some of them) and pretending to cheer (others of them) the killing of Osama bin Laden.  That's because they know that, only slightly below the surface, is the question they've been dreading:  If he'd been captured instead of killed, would we be right to execute him?

Abolitionism has to answer, "no."  That is, after all, what abolitionism means.  The problem is that not only is that answer incorrect, it is so wildly incorrect that they can't say it out loud.  And they don't.  You will search in vain for any liberal commentary today about whether a live capture should properly have been the precursor to putting Osama in the death chamber.

There is much to say on this subject, but for now I only want to quote what I thought was an insightful paragraph by Andrew Klavan in the City Journal (the city being New York):

Justice is a moral necessity of the human heart. We cannot live without it....This is a harsh truth because justice is a harsh good. It is not gentle like mercy. It is not stagnant like equality. It is not a soft, shapeless word to be slapped on bumper stickers or chanted during rallies in order to inflame one's own sense of virtue. Justice is an exact description of a specific social interaction: the awarding to men and women of the outcome they deserve. This does not exist in nature, not in this life. It's something we do, something we give and often, too often, when evil has been committed, it has to be delivered at the end of a gun. There is sometimes simply no other way.


 

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