A Time to Kill


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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56 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    i don’t think deterrence is the key issue in support of the death penalty when it comes down to it. it’s just about vengeance, pure and simple, and at least bunch admits it. I tend to believe civilization and legal process should temper our worst urges, clearly many of my countrymen don’t share that belief.Report

    • Lev in reply to greginak says:

      I agree completely. But I think that the death penalty debate essentially comes down to a lot of the deepest moral shibboleths that our country possesses about good and evil–namely, that they’re separable, that evil can somehow be defeated, that it’s somehow morally acceptable to do evil in the name of good. Most countries have long since ditched the death penalty as ineffective and inhumane, but I’d be surprised if America ended it in my lifetime. For all the good things about America, a sophisticated understanding of human nature has never really been something we seem to possess, and the Puritan ideas that have guided our morality for so long owe so much to Medievalism (and not of the Aquinas kind).Report

  2. Roque Nuevo says:

    I agree with the gist of your piece. I’m sure that revenge is a basic human desire. There are studies that show experimental subjects’ brains lighting up when they are placed in a situation simulating revenge. On the other hand, it’s far more satisfying to think about than to accomplish.

    Further, I’m convinced that justice as society’s retribution preserves human dignity in a way that the rehabilitation model lacks entirely: a person’s autonomy is respected as he or she pays the price. If he or she is to be rehabilitated, then their indivuality is canceled. They no longer choose since the state assumes that role. Rehabilitation is the Nurse Ratchet model, which ultimately devolves into a Penal Colony state.

    Whatdever the merits of the death penalty, the tendency today is to outlaw it. In another few generations, people will look at it as a historical cuiosity, like the property requirement for voting or voting rights for women. We’re going to have to come up with a satisfying mode of revenge that stops short of state sanctioned murder.Report

    • greginak in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

      wow i never realized rehab was so evil. you had better start going to AA meetings to tell all those folks how they are risk. and think of all those people helped by therapy…and those prisoners who get some education so they can get a job when they get out…..golly how fiendish.Report

      • Murali in reply to greginak says:

        greg, I rarely agree with Roque Nuevo, but in this case, he is right. Punishment as rehabilitation fails to adequately respect the person-hood of the criminal. It says: “poor you, you couldnt have done better, come along, we’ll fix you”

        People are not machines that we fix for other people’s purposes. Note that AA and rehab are more in the form of medical treatment and less of punishment. In fact, we may want to rehabilitate criminals (maybe on a voluntary basis) after their punishment, or ,aybe during their punishment so that we dont waste time.

        On the other other hand, if you recognise that the criminal is culpable in the way only persons can be, then you have to assign moral responsibility to the criminal. Assigning moral responsibility just means that we acknowledge that the criminal has transgressed against society, and that the transgression cannot stand. Insufficient punishment fails to sufficiently redress the imbalance caused by the transgression, while excessive punishment is an entirely new transgression.

        That’s why we want proportional punishment, why we hunt down old Nazis and othe war criminals even if they won’t do what they did again etc etc.

        The criminal justice system ought to be there for retribution and retribution only.

        There is something utterly chilling about a person who has got no concepts of deserts.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to greginak says:

        I referred to rehabilitation as justice v. retribution. AA/therapy has nothing to do with it. Neither does giving convicts a chance to get an education and to make it in the legal economy. In all these cases people are just taking advantage of an opportunity. Considering criminals “sociologically sick”, like the “Officer Krupke” song, takes that freedom away. People would prefer to be punished (by losing their liberty), do their time, and be released than to be subject to liberal feelgood re education willy nilly.

        Try and keep up.Report

        • Murali in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

          I dont know that people would prefer it, but it is what is justly owed to them.Report

          • greginak in reply to Murali says:

            mur, rn—The stats about the large number of prisoners who have substance abuse and mental health problems are commonly known and easy to find. so thanks for agreeeing that a lot of the rehab is just cool. other then those things educations, as in HS kind of stuff, is the other common kind of rehab, so thanks again, RN, for rebutting yourself before i got to it. so you guys are fine with the actual rehab that goes on in prison. i’m glad we could agree.

            other then that it seems obvious punishment and rehab can occur at the same time. so i don’t really know what you guys are objecting to. A clockwork orange was not a documentary.Report

            • Murali in reply to greginak says:

              No, clockwork orange isnt a documentary, but if you take punishment as rehabilitation to its logical conclusion, clockwork orange wouldn’t be morally abhorrent.(Although, you may think that it was kind of stupid making him incapable of self defence) i.e.Mandatory rehabilitation, taken to its logical conclusion would mean that some version of clockwork orange, or Bentham’s panopticon would be appealing to you.

              The distinction I’m trying to draw is that rehabilitation may be nice to have and a definite plus if it happens, but rehabilitation cannot justify punishment.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

                Bentham’s Panopticon was never properly implemented!Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t rehab as justifying punishment. They are separate concepts although both may occur with a prisoner. Criminals who are mandated to treatment always have the option of not cooperating or refusing. There is no forced rehab. People go if they, cooperate if they want and pretend to cooperate if they want. Rehab is an opportunity they have to look good, learn something or get better. but it is always up to them.

                Full disclosure I have worked with many addicts who were mandated into substance abuse treatment. Some decided not to do treatment and just did their sentence. Some played along and some tried hard and got better.Report

              • Roque Nuevo in reply to greginak says:


                First, I’m not “rebutting myself.” I never said I was opposed to rehab. I just said I was opposed to rehab as a model for correction. I favor punishment as a model for correction for the reasons I’ve outlined above. This doesn’t mean that criminals shouldn’t be given opportunities in prision for rehab. Of course they should.

                I really don’t need stats on prisoners with mental health/drug problems. I assume that they all have some form of either or both. That’s why they’re criminals. They can’t figure out a better way to survive in this economy than just taking what they want.

                I’m objecting to the ideology that makes the justice system and prisons into a vehicle for rehab, rather than punishment. Taken to its logical conclusion, it devolves into a Clockwork Orange world, as Murali so aptly argued. Even though rehab can happen with a punishment model the opposite isn’t true. If rehab is your theory and method, then criminals are not rational beings to be punished for breaking the social contract, but sick people in need of a cure. One can’t punish the sick, can one? But one can provide opportunities for rehab to a criminal under sentence of punishment without any contradiction.Report

              • greginak in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

                Everything taken to some sort of logical conclusion leads to bad things. Slippery slope arguments are lame.Report

              • Murali in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

                @greginak (since I cant nest comments any deeper)
                A few points.
                1. You don’t in fact believe that rehabilitation is the raison d’être of the justice system. (At least so far as I can tell) So the remaining part of the post is going to treat you as though you did. This is me trying to pre-empt any replies to the effect that you dont in fact believe what I attribute you to believe. (Unless you genuinely are a rehabilitationist)

                2.Logical entailment is different from slippery slope. If the whole point of your system is to make prisoner’s fit to live with when they rejoin society, then a benign variant of clockwork orange is not morally problematic. Of course the whole argument will not work if your intuitions vis a vis clockwork orange are different from mine.

                3. Different slopes are slippery to different extents. Many slippery slope arguments are bad, but there are some that may actually work. don’t press me on this because I cant think of any at the moment. But I’m sure I’ve heard a few good ones somewhere…Report

  3. Freddie says:

    What this debate should no longer tolerate is the fantasy that the death penalty can be implemented “fairly”. Human systems mean human failure. The number of people who have been falsely sentenced to death and later exonerated is staggering. The imbalance in the likelihood between black and white offenders getting the death penalty for the same charges is staggering. It’s only because of the historical accident of modern DNA testing happening during our lifetimes that we even know that so many people have been falsely sentenced to death by prosecutors, jurists and judges who knew the accused was guilty. How many people, do you think, were put to death on faulty evidence before the advent of DNA testing? And guess what– we have all the modern technology imaginable, and we still sent an innocent man to his death.

    No, there are not infallible human systems, which means that a human system for sending people to death is going to screw up, and everyone who supports the death penalty is endorsing that system regardless. If you want to send people to death, you have to man up and say “I can deal with the Cameron Todd Willinghams. It’s worth it, he and those to come being put to death, to satisfy my revenge. I can imagine his last night on earth spent contemplating his imminent wrongful execution and I am willing to allow for that happening if it means we get to put people to death.” You’ve got to own that. You’ve got to endorse the death penalty in the knowledge that it has and will put innocent people to death.Report

    • Murali in reply to Freddie says:

      Freddie, maybe you only have to do that if you’re american, or if your justice system is already scarily corrupt.

      Maybe in Singapore, where everything is a lot cleaner, it seems that the death penalty would be a lot more justified.

      i.e. you must separate 2 issues.

      1. The death penalty in general is a justified form of punishment.

      2. The implementation of the death penalty in certain polities contains too high a moral risk.

      You seem to be arguing point point 2. And it may very well be the case that you are right in the case of America. But, given that I’m not obliged to assume that America is not the centre of the world (obligatory snark), the second issue doesnt seem that serous an issue.

      This also can extend to a whole lot of other issues. Education, healthcare, gun control.

      Even if we grant that people have rights, it is not clear that they have a right to bear weapons. If I have no right to kill you, why do I have the right to a tool which seems designed to do so?

      Granted, your american constitution says you have the right, but why believe that the constitution is right in the first place?

      I dont put any moral valence on my country’s constitution, so why should you?Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to Murali says:

        Even if we grant that people have rights, it is not clear that they have a right to bear weapons. If I have no right to kill you, why do I have the right to a tool which seems designed to do so?

        Too many problems here. You seem like an open minded sort so I recommend your thinking through the relationship between the right to bear arms and democracy. Why assume from the getgo that you know more than Madison and Hamilton? Why not first try and figure out their reasoning before going out on a limb like you do?

        Next, you do have the right to kill me–in self defense. That’s why we have the Second Amendment. The Constitution isn’t sacred but we do put a certain “moral valence” on it after all. People broadly agree that it is the best way for the country to be governed. I’m sorry you don’t feel that way about your own country.

        Granted, your american constitution says you have the right, but why believe that the constitution is right in the first place?Report

        • Murali in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

          Why assume from the get go that you know more than Madison and Hamilton? Why not first try and figure out their reasoning before going out on a limb like you do?

          maybe I dont find their arguments convincing?

          I’m sorry you don’t feel that way about your own country.

          Have you seen singapore’s constitution? Powers of arbitrary detention etc are enshrined in the constitution itself. Singapore in fact does govern according to the constitution. But, it doesn’t mean that I believe that there should be no constitution, merely that the constitution should be different.

          Moreover, why should I accord any weight to the views of Sang Nila Utama, Stamford Raffles or Lee Kwan Yew beyond the actual merit of those views.

          As with regards to the founders, maybe I’m too enamoured with my own intelligence, but it seems to me that we aren’t being sufficiently critical of them. Many of them believed in all sorts of crazy ideas. e.g. that the truth would win out in a market-place of ideas. That would only be true if we made patently false assumptions about people’s ability to reason correctly.

          Or, the founder’s ideas on what is a good architecture of government seems to be quite wrong. America may now be a lot more libertarian if it stuck with a Westminster system instead of moving to the congressional system.

          Or, for that matter Lockean property formation.

          The kind of stuff they believed in does not lend itself to the kind of credibility you think they have.
          There are reasons to suppose that they did not think through

          Now, it may in fact there were good ideas by the foundersReport

          • Murali in reply to Murali says:

            just to continue. There may have been good ideas by the founders, but these have to be evaluated on their own merits.Report

            • Roque Nuevo in reply to Murali says:

              Well… if you want to continue, you came to the right place!

              1. Since you go into some detail about your country’s constitution, I can only repeat myself: sorry about that. Arbitrary detention is prohibited by the US Constitution.

              2. I really don’t think that Americans take the Constitution/Madison/Hamiltion as sacred cows, not to be critiqued ever. Law schools are full of people doing just that full time. However, I think people agree that following it, even in changing it, gives the nation strength.

              What arguments regarding the right to keep and bear arms are you thinking of, specifically?

              You seem like you have quite a background in philosophy, etc etc. Can you explain why self defense is not a natural right?

              3. I see it this way (and I’m open to correction from you): the right to keep and bear arms was added to the Constitution as an amendment for political reasons: along with the other nine amendements of the Bill of Rights, it was required so as to get people to vote for ratification. The framers of the Constitution thought that these ten amendments were superflous–the rights they enshrine were already implicit in the Constitution itself.

              Therefore, people back then wanted the right to keep and bear arms to be written in stone, as it were. They believed that this was their natural right and furthermore, that it was all that was standing in the way of tyranny. Tyrannies are always models of gun control. I think most people take it as a “doomsday” clause in the Constitution. If things get really bad, then people can fight for their own survival the best they can.

              The people who ratified the Constitution were not so different from Americans today. Guns and freedom go together in most people’s minds.

              The above seems irrational to anyone educated in a “gun controlled” nation. Aren’t guns for killing? Isn’t killing bad? Why make it the people’s right to wield lethal force against others? And so forth.

              But if you consider history, and therefore the context in which the Constitution was written, you may see that the right to bear arms only belonged to the noble classes. In some nations (Japan, for example) simple possession of arms caused the death penalty. Therefore, whenever they wanted to they could practice their swordsmanship on the nearest peasant or just test the sharpness and strength of the blade on his or her arm, if that was pleasing to them.

              Firearms became the great equalizer. A peasant with a gun was just as good as some knight/samurai with a lifetime of martial arts training, special diets, and so forth.

              Don’t you find this argument convincing, if it explains the presence of the Second Amendment in the US Constitution?Report

              • Murali in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

                Roque Nuevo, a few points

                1. I’m leery of natural rights in general, but even given natural rights, I’m fine with self defence. The concept of self defence can come apart from the concept of fire-arms. The point is that people seem to do fairly well in defending themselves in gun controlled societies.

                2. I can see that the explanation you gave in your point 3 explains why the 2nd amendment was thrown in, and why there is a cultural attachment to the right to bear arms.

                I see rights as the lines that define what precisely is cooperation vs defection if we view the whole of society as a prisoner’s dilemma. As such, I would say that maybe in the american context there is a right to bear arms. However, this would be nowhere near universal. I could also consistently say that in much of the rest of the world, there is no right to bear fire arms. Some rights are more culturally relative than others because what counts as cooperation and defection depends on the particular ends that the people comprising society have. That would vary from culture to culture, and not all of those ends are necessarily subject to rational criticism. Some ends are simply there.

                3. As a matter of principle, I dont think that there is a coherent right to rebel. (depending on how you define rebellion) For example, if the army is to defend the constitution and the republic, then if the politicians themselves threaten the republic, action taken by the army would not be rebellion. Also, the government in Singapore would never turn the military against the general populace. Because we are all conscripts, there is pretty much no-one to turn the army on other than our own women, children and other non-combatants.

                4. Doomsday scenarios in general seem to be a very bad way to organise society. That is a lot like building a 50 ft thick wall so that you are protected from even the strongest explosions, earthquakes etc etc etc.

                Anyc itizen’s militia will need far more than hand guns, shot guns and hunting rifles in order to stage a coup or to pose any serious threat to the army.Report

  4. Freddie says:

    At its core, the death penalty is supposed to deter crime.

    There is no correlation– none– between death penalty states and lower murder rates. The death penalty does not deter crime and never has.Report

    • http://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/amlawe/v5y2003i2p344-376.html

      Professor Rubin (one of my former profs) would disagree. I’m not convinced, given that their paper is one of very few (only?) to find a deterrent effect.Report

    • pinky in reply to Freddie says:

      I’m no authority on this subject, but my understanding is that the death penalty appears to be a deterrent when viewed longitudinally but not cross-sectionally. That is to say, if viewed over the last hundred years or so, the application of the death penalty correlates to a decrease in the murder rate. Comparing states, the death penalty seems to have no effect.

      The problem with longitudinal data is that it’s next to impossible to account for societal changes over the period.Report

  5. Also, I covered this topic at my blog, too. (Yes, I am post-whoring, but how else am I going to drive traffic to a fairly new blog?)

    • Will in reply to Justin_Anderson says:

      Interesting post, Justin. I think I agree with you insofar as there are real moral distinctions between certain categories of crime, but the uncertainty of guilt strikes me as a concern that applies just as much to a cop killer as a petty thief. Indeed, I suspect the heated circumstances surrounding particularly heinous crimes like terrorism or cop killing make it more difficult to ensure those defendants get a fair hearing.Report

    • Dude, post-whoring is always welcome here. I suspect most of the originators of this site never would have found each other were it not for our post-whoring (E.D. and I first came into contact when I post-whored at Freddie’s old site, for instance).Report

  6. Sonny Bunch says:

    I’ll be without access to the Internet over the next couple of days…but since you linked I thought I should make clear that I have abandoned the pretense that the death penalty deters capital offenses. I used to make the half-hearted argument that it did, but I’ve given that up. In the case of heinous criminals — murderers, rapists, etc. — I don’t think of prison as a place of rehabilitation but one of punishment.* And I feel that some people commit crimes so heinous that death is the punishment they deserve.

    *You can rehab a 18-year-old carjacker. You can’t rehab a multiple-felon first degree murderer/multiple-rapist. And really, even if you could would they deserve the chance?Report

    • Will in reply to Sonny Bunch says:

      Fair enough. But wrongful execution bothers me more than the
      thought of some convict getting life without parole instead of a death sentence.

      Also, if you’re going to Savannah, Churchill’s Pub is worth a visit.Report

  7. Trumwill says:

    One of the arguments in favor of the death penalty is incapacitation. Executing someone is the only way to ensure that this person never commits murder again. My sometime coblogger (in favor of capital punishment) and I (opposed) are having a discussion about that right now in fact.Report

  8. Bob Cheeks says:

    There are those who need a good hanging. Some with weight, others without.Report

  9. I’m slowly coming around to opposition to the death penalty. It’s not immediate enough or frequent enough (or gruesome enough) to act as a meaningful deterrent. There is always a risk of innocents being executed. I would be fine with the death penalty going away if we made other changes, like hard labor and unpleasant confinements in far away places.

    And I also think this statement by Megan McArdle awhile back is one of the wisest things I’ve heard in a long time:

    “Actually, I’m told that a shocking number of prisoners request DNA tests that confirm their guilt; they have nothing to lose, and apparently want to gamble on the slim possibility of a miracle exoneration. But this seems irrelevant to me. If they get a DNA test and it proves them guilty, we’ve lost little time or money. If they get a DNA test and it exonerates them, we’ve set an innocent man free. DNA tests would have to cost $1 million apiece for me to consider that a bad bargain.”Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    I kinda agree with Bob Cheeks. There are, in fact, people who just need killin’.

    I’d trust (generic countryman) with the ability to make that decision before I’d trust The Government with it, though. There are too many upsides for prosecutors, judges, governors, etc, etc, etc and too many downsides to saying “whoops, we screwed this up”. All of the incentives are wrong. (I mean, look at some of the stuff that Balko has written about… prosecutors have withheld evidence from the defense. What does this mean? The prosecutor has reasonable doubt that the guy they caught is the guy who did it and *STILL* cares more about getting the conviction than getting the guy who did it. That’s *INSANITY*.)

    I don’t trust the government with that particular power.Report

  11. Jon H says:

    The key with this case is that the perps were essentially caught red-handed by the police, in a completely unambiguous fashion.

    I’d have no problem with using the death penalty in cases where it’s so clear. The problem is that it is used in cases based on far weaker evidence.

    – JH

    BTW, this happened in my hometown.Report

    • Scott in reply to Jon H says:

      Just b/c a case has “weaker” evidence does not mean the defendant is not guilty. If the law required that the defendant be caught red handed for the death penalty to apply then almost no one would get the death penalty b/c really the police are only there to clean up after the fact.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

        “Just b/c a case has “weaker” evidence does not mean the defendant is not guilty.”

        True, but do we really want to be executing people when we can only be 90 or 95% sure that they’re guilty because of the relative weakness of the evidence? “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is not the same as “beyond any doubt.”Report

        • Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          I personally don’t have a problem with executing people when we can only be 90 or 95% sure that they’re guilty because of the relative weakness of the evidence. Although I would say that if we are only 90 or 95% sure that they’re guilty the evidence would probably not be “weak”. You are never going to get 100% certainty for anything and if the the standard was “beyond a doubt” then no one would ever be convicted of anything. I believe the system can and should be improved but that doesn’t mean that we should throw the whole thing out.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

            The thing is that the death penalty sort of prevents you from weeding out those 5-10% of innocents.Report

            • Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Remember those 90-95% we were talking about are those who we are sure are guilty. Falling into the other 5-10% doesn’t make you innocent, it makes you someone we are not totally sure was guilty. Of course no one on trial ever thinks they are guilty.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

                Wrong. If we’re only 90-95% sure that someone is guilty, that means there is a 5-10% chance they are innocent. Are you comfortable executing someone if there is a 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 chance that they’re innocent? I’m not. And how do you delineate between the cases where we’re absolutely “sure” that someone is guilty and the cases where we’re only 90-95% “sure” that they’re guilty?

                The fact is you cannot design a completely flawless justice system. It is impossible. This means that you are, on occasion, going to convict innocent people. It also means that you are, on occasion, going to kill innocent people as long as you have the death penalty. The appeals process is primarily only good for dealing with procedural flaws, not factual weaknesses.Report

              • Scott in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                No the system is not perfect and won’t ever be perfect. I think it is silly to require the system to be perfect before you would allow capital punishment. I think the system we have now could and should be improved but I am comfortable with it.Report

  12. Mark says:

    The irony is that those who are most in favor of the death penalty – and most convinced that it’s right – are the most loathe to trust the government with any other function. At least this seems ironic until you realize that the death penalty is a vehicle for obtaining ‘vengeance’ against the poor and minorities who may or may not have killed someone. All other government programs are viewed as redistribution to the poor and minorities and are hence rendered untrustworthy.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mark says:

      You can flip this around, though.

      Those who trust the government with everything from licensing personal trainers to providing health care to marriage licenses to wealth redistribution to curriculum decisions in elementary schools suddenly balk at the idea that, maybe, the government might put to death a multiple murderer/rapist.

      You’ve given the government your wallet, your marriage, your children… and now you balk at the idea of the government killing someone a jury of your peers has determined is guilty of raping and killing beyond the shadow of a doubt?Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Wow it is almost like different functions are , you know, different. They have different purposes, context and costs. Some are minor, some are major. Some cost a lot, some cost little. Some benefit me, some benefit others. Some I disagree with, some I don’t.

        But then again there are a lot of things I don’t get. I here so many people tell me that the gov is all in my wallet and controls what I do, but I have never seen that. the gov has been hired to do certain functions which seems to be legal in a democracy. I guess it must be the metal plate in my head, I just can’t see the Stalinist hell hole so many others see.Report

        • Murali in reply to greginak says:

          greg, sarcasm is obscuring the point you were trying to make. Try again please? Seriously, I honestly have no idea about what your position is and what you are trying to advocate.Report

          • greginak in reply to Murali says:

            Well I don’t think can ever be to much sarcasm.

            My point. ……ummm…..urr..my point….oh yeah. I was responding to what sounded like generic gov is evil silliness. There are range of gov functions that have differing levels of cost and affect on our lives. it is just not reasonable to compare and contrast them out of context and purpose. I am all for many government functions and against some others. it is entirely possible to think the gov should license some types of work but think the death penalty is bad.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              Nope. Just pointing out a flipped perspective.

              I have heard the following from one of my pinko friends: “I can’t believe the righties are such hypocrites! They oppose abortion but support the death penalty!”

              I have heard the following from my, erm, more socially conservative acquaintances: “I can’t believe the lefties are such hypocrites! They support abortion but oppose the death penalty!”

              And both people were saying this completely impassionedly without a drop of self-reflection.

              It gets on my tits, it does.Report

      • Roque Nuevo in reply to Jaybird says:

        You can flip this around, though.

        Very true. But the clearest case for your argument is that the same people who oppose the death penalty will usually support abortion on demand. And vice versa. The only exception I can think of is the Vatican/Pope, which opposed both. And maybe me, who supports both.

        The state can and does license murder under certain circumstances. The death penalty and abortion are two examples.Report

        • Murali in reply to Roque Nuevo says:

          roque, its not murder if it is permissible for the state (or anyone) to do it. Murder is defined as wrongful killing. The reason why we would permit abortion and the death-penalty is because the killing is not wrongful under those circumstances. Therefore it is not murder.Report