The View From 1776
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Sanctity of Criminals’ Lives
Some groups like the ACLU, who advocate abolition of the death penalty for murder or rape, enthusiastically endorse murder by abortion.
Many Christians and religious Jews, along with secular liberal-progresssives, sincerely oppose the death penalty for convicted murderers or rapists. They are firmly persuaded that the God-given miracle of life is too precious to leave in the hands of fallible human jurors and judges.
Almost all people agree that murder, taking matters into one’s own hands without the sanction of civil justice, is forbidden. Indeed, that view is one of the oldest imbedded in society’s laws. Those same laws of society, from time immemorial, also dictated executing murderers and rapists, provided that they were brought before a lawfully constituted body and convicted by requisite evidence. Justice was fitting the penalty to the crime.
Justice was viewed from the standpoint of the whole of society, not solely from the viewpoint of the accused. Acts of rape, mutilation, or murder were crimes against the order of society, as well as against the specific victims.
Ancient law codes, from the Ten Commandments to Hammurabi’s law, were based upon an explicit reference to the gods recognized as the protectors of that society. Thus executing murderers and rapists, as well as acts of murder or rape, inevitably raise moral questions. Today those questions tend to be confined to the criminal who commits such acts. Little thought is given to the morality of protecting society from such people, as well as the rights of victims and their families. Little thought is given to the degrading effect upon society, the contempt for law and justice, engendered by limiting punishment of murderers and rapists to prison confinement, from which they all too often escape or are paroled. Little thought is given to the frequency with which escapees or parolees murder, mutilate, and rape new victims.
For more details regarding that aspect of the death penalty, see Lester Jackson’s essay on the TCS Daily website.
Many Christians and religious Jews who oppose the death penalty also oppose abortion. But many secular liberal-progressives oppose the death penalty while advocating an absolute and unilateral right of a woman to murder her baby via abortion. Why, it’s fair to ask , are the lives of ruthless criminals so much more important than the lives of innocent unborn or just-born babies?
Opposition of the ACLU and other liberal-progressives to the death penalty and their support for abortion pivot off their support for civil rights. Because a disproportionate number of murders, mutilations, and rapes are committed by blacks and other minorities, the ACLU says that the death penalty is itself discrimination against those minorities and an infringement of civil rights. Because the ACLU, and liberal-progressives generally, reject Judeo-Christian morality as a foundation of social order, they have no compunction about elevating feminist ideology over unborn babies’ right to life.
The underlying philosophical support for such doctrine is socialism’s concept of social justice. The first prominent statement of that doctrine was the work of French Revolutionary philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the middle 1700s. Rousseau asserted that, in the original state of nature, there was plenty of everything for everybody and that people were benevolent, resorting to neither aggression and crime, nor war.
In Rousseau’s imagination (he admitted that he had no historical or other evidence to support it), this idyllic perfection, the secular-liberal-progressive version of the Garden of Eden, was ended by the advent of private property rights and the structuring of societies to protect those property rights. Once someone declared a piece of ground to be his property and asserted a right to prevent its use by others, avarice, greed, aggression, crime, and war were unleashed upon a formerly peaceful and benevolent humanity.
Opposition to the death penalty rests in part upon Rousseau’s imagined benevolence of people in the original state of nature. If crime is the product of ownership of private property, then humanity can be returned to its natural benevolence by redistribution of property under a socialist regime. Murderers and rapists can be rehabilitated through the ministrations of secular social scientists, because humans are all good when not corrupted by a social and political structure that protects property rights.
This doctrine is unsupported by historical experience, indeed totally repudiated by socialist experiment, from Revolutionary France, to the Soviet Union, Hitler’s National Socialism, and Mao’s Red China. But it was the genesis of the ACLU, which was organized during the First World War to support socialists’ and anarchists’ efforts to sabotage America’s preparations for entry into the European conflict.
The ACLU, ever since, has adopted as its official purpose supporting any effort to degrade the Judeo-Christian moral ethos upon which the United States was founded.
For the ACLU and its liberal-progressive supporters, at least, opposition to the death penalty is, at bottom, just one more way to corrode the moral foundations of constitutional government in the United States, a constitutional government founded upon the essentiality of private property rights. It is precisely this same objective that governs ACLU advocacy of abortion.