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Oh, Stanley

Death-penalty-map

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Yesterday, I stumbled upon this piece by Timothy Stanley, a Daily Telegraph contributor and American historian. American in the sense that he loves American history. He’s not a yank.

Anyway, his piece was about the death penalty potentially being discussed again in Parliament. At least, that’s what he started off thinking:

Britain is talking seriously about the death penalty for the first time in over a decade. It was last discussed in Parliament when the Human Rights Act was passed in 1998, and now blogger Paul Staines (of Guido Fawkes fame) is petitioning for another House of Commons debate in 2011.

It seems Dr. Stanley has fallen at the first hurdle here. From what I can gather, Britain is NOT talking seriously about the death penalty. Paul Staines is. And, of course, the Twittering classes are buzzing, as are most politico/commentary blogs. These groups are from representative of Britain.

The ePetition process has to gain 100, 000 signatories before it ever gets anywhere near Parliament, and, at time of writing, it has garnered only 7, 992, so, hopefully, the dear Doctor won’t be the only one to fall at the first hurdle.

He goes on:

We can expect anti-death penalty campaigners to point to America as an example of why it should stay banned.

Not so careful reading of the petition to maintain the ban doesn’t just point to America, but states:

British Justice should not be in the same league as China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria

I understand the Doc is an Englishman in New York, or, rather Los Angeles and occasionally Washington, but, in the scheme of the debate, I don’t think the US version of capital punishment will, or should, be used as the only example of what’s wrong with the sentence.

Accepting the many obvious injustices in the US legal system, there is an instinctive British snobbery towards Americans that renders any comparison between our two countries unflattering.

I don’t think the reason the death penalty was outlawed had anything to do with snobbery. But, good try.

Another chestnut:

the reason for the decades criminals spend waiting for their execution is simple: money-hungry lawyers and sympathetic liberals keep on appealing their sentences.

Is the Statesophile of the belief that innocent men have never been executed by the state? Execution cannot be rectified. People must always be allowed to appeal their sentence. What about the case of Sally Clark, wrongly convicted of killing her children, who was released 18 months later. Under the terms of Staine’s petition, she would have been executed, without a doubt if ‘sympathetic liberals’ and their appeals were ignored, an act which, as it happened in reality, exposed major floors in our justice system, not to mention if Clark had been executed.

But, in the ultimate form of cognitive dissonance:

Opponents will point out that the death penalty is practiced in the states with the highest murder rates. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that executions don’t work – it just means that they take place where they are needed most.

A vicious circle, if ever there was one. And, Dr. Stanley exposes his right-wing, conservative, and self-confessed Sarah Palin, gun loving buffoonery for what it is. BULLSHIT.

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