04 February 2007

Perspectival shift and capital punishment

Recently, quite a few bloggers have laid out their arguments for and against capital punishment, and the appropriate extent of its deployment, but to what degree do logical arguments move people to form/change their opinions? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion - make executions public. The moral horror of such an event would be experienced in its full glory.

But of course, restrict the audience to those above 18. Online videos of Saddaam's execution have spawned copy-cat hangings by children.

- Tan Eik Fong


KiWeTO said...

Here's another possible perspective - the economic one.

(Caveat - does NOT apply to pre-determined sentencing rules such as the ones applied in the Tochi incident.)

In what the majority of society will consider henious crime (serial murder, mass murder, and god knows what other anti-society acts possible), the economic perspective to the use of capital punishment is simple - lower costs.

To incarcerate someone away from society (since banishment went out of vogue, incarceration is the only other alternative) is the equivalent of removing the person from threatening society. In certain crimes, the sentence is life. And the costs of life imprisonment are huge - odds are the individuals will not be able to work jobs enough (even in prison) to pay for the costs of keeping him (her for all those PC-correct people) away from society.

As we have heard in various english media, the Americans and the British are running out of prison space. In the SG context, do we need to build more prisons to accomodate that 8m population target?

on another note: is crime statistically linked as a percentage of population; is it just the way we are - animals under the veneer of civilization?

perspectives of capital punishment are irrational - it really is what one is brought up to believe. Tan Eik Fong's suggestion will not work, for medieval societies grew up with public executions, and it was a public spectacle, not a moral horror.

Is morality real, or it is really relative to one's experiences?


Teck Soon said...

I don't think that making executions public is a good solution. Actually, I think people like attending executions. That's why the Saddam video got downloaded so many times. There are public executions in Saudi Arabia (like the execution of 2 homosexuals in Jeddah around 5 years ago), for example, and there seems to be no "moral horror" there. Human history has spanned thousands of years, and only very recently have executions become 'not public'. I don't think we're particularly more moral than our predecessors, and our urge to peek at executions is not so far removed from the Romans' urge to watch gladiators fight to the death.

Ben Lim said...

I'm not Christian or religious, but
let's say, hypothetically, that one day you DIE and go to heaven, and saint whats-his-name stands at the pearly gates with his keys in hand, jangling them meaningfully, telling you with every line of his body that he is the GATEKEEPER! Or as George Bush would say, the DECIDER!

He asks: "So, what will it be, my son/daughter? Will it be mercy or justice?"

What will you choose when it's your turn?