An editorial yesterday in the NYT criticizes the pending execution of John Errol Ferguson in Florida. At least the Times for once describes the crime, however briefly: "Mr. Ferguson, who brutally murdered eight people in 1977 and 1978, has sat on Florida's death row for 34 years."
The point of the editorial is that the execution would be unconstitutional, because, so says the Times (as ever along with defense-hired "experts"), Ferguson is insane. This sort of stuff is old hat, and my point here is not to rehash whether the Times' editorial board knows the law better than the numerous state and federal judges who have approved the execution after a painstaking inquiry into Ferguson's mental state. Instead, my point is to take on one particularly absurd argument I see all the time from abolitionists. As the Times puts it:
Both Mr. Ferguson's and Mr. Hill's crimes were unquestionably horrific; the crimes of death-row inmates almost always are. But to focus on the crime obscures the central moral dilemma of capital punishment. As Sister Helen Prejean, the death-penalty opponent, has put it, the question is not whether someone deserves to die but whether we deserve to kill him.
What hogwash. First, the question, in death penalty cases, as in all others, most certainly is what the parties deserve. Although the Times seems to have missed this, the whole point of the justice system is to give the parties what they deserve. Does the Times have some other purpose the system ought to be pursuing?
But putting that to one side, if "we" -- i.e., the duly empowered organs of democratic government -- cannot, after years of the most probing deliberation, give a multiple murderer what he deserves, who does the Times recommend for the job?
It's just astonishing what sophomoric baloney abolitionists want to palm off as "wisdom."