Guthrie to Maggie and Max

MScoleman at MScoleman at
Sat Mar 6 17:48:59 PST 1999

In a message dated 99-03-05 11:02:45 EST, Max writes in part response to Carroll Cox:

<< One can hold up for criticism the way the death

penalty is employed, or more comprehensively the

system that uses it. But this, much like Yoshie's

argument, concedes the moral question. Which is

it? Is it wrong as matter of principle, or merely

a bad political influence or inefficiently and/or

unfairly exercised?

>> well, since my email is full of notes with my name (and max's) in the heading, I guess I should say something. something. sigh, i guess levity is out of place here. I think Max has raised some key points in the above paragraph and what I have to say is by way of adding my bit to his AND responding to some of the other points I've been reading (and no I won't attribute every bit because I really can't remember who exactly wrote what). 1. While some rabid right wingers tend to be both anti-abortion and pro-death penalty (and heavens knows I work with some), to say this is a majority or even really frequent is a mistake. For every right winger with this almost caricature like position, I know people pro-choice and in favor of the death penalty, pro-choice and opposed to the death penalty, and people pro-choice for others (not themselves) and opposed to the way the death penalty is carried out in most cases, but not against the death penalty in principle, etc., etc., etc. (Oh, I forgot, there are also people opposed both to abortion and the death penalty.) These discussions tend to deteriorate pretty quickly into attempts to pigeon hole discussion into good and bad: all those in favor of the death penalty should be shot with poison pen arrows IMMEDIATELY for favoring something which is NOT, politically CoRrect, thank you very much. My original message, way back when, which was thoughroly trashed by whatshisname (bill lear always trashes anything i say -- i believe he receives real PLeaSure doing this), basically said that I believe in the death penalty in some cases, Now, I may not have been particularly clear in what I was trying to portray (definitely a mortal sin per saint lear) so I will try to restate my position: For horrendous crimes (like John Wayne Gacy who killed how many young men?) I think the death penalty is appropriate. Simply that. Criminals who commit horrendous crimes do so without personal penalty, and I think they should suffer the same penalty as their victims. 2. As per the left and who in the left is in favor of the death penalty. Well, you could probably say almost anything about this depending on how you define the left. If the left is your friends who are not in favor of the death penalty, then I guess the left is not in favor of the death penalty. This seems a little post modern in the extreme.... The LefT, or the LEft, or the leFt has been very much in favor of the death penalty throughout history -- unless you want to put Uncle Joe Stalin in the republican party? Or, after the Chinese revolution drug dealers were summarily put to death. The North Vietnamese were not exactly liberal with criminals, and the Communist Party in Laos spent years slaughtering the innocent. To say leftists are anti-death penalty in general is like saying the Republicans really want to protect motherhood (white, upper-class, maybe). 3. In general, I think that most people in the US are conflicted when it comes to the death penalty. That conflict between seeing that some individuals commit horriffic acts which demand reaction and a deep moral sense that all killing is a waste of life. That's certainly how I feel, and to characterize this sort of position from these sort of ultra moral high ground eyries which basically say-- beat the bitch she made a politically incorrect statement---is really a waste of time. These posturings neither open the discussion to different sides of a debate, nor do they change my mind, and I doubt if Max is going to change his mind any time soon.. maggie coleman mscoleman at

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list