Tuesday, May 15, 2012

America Exceptional in Executions

In both Death Penalty in Error and Free Will and Capital Punishment Panderbear considered various aspects of capital punishment. In particular Panderbear argued the lack of moral justification for the death penalty and noted that when applied in error is an irremediable tragedy.

But how does the United States compare to other nations regarding the use of capital punishment? According to Amnesty International the United States was the only Western democracy and the only member of the G-8 group of developed nations that executed any prisoners last year, 43 to be exact. 43 to 0 - pretty astounding. In fact America's total executions in 2011 ranked as 5th highest in the world. With regard to executing our own citizens we are in the company of China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. Nice crowd.

Capital Punishment

Of course American Exceptionalism, rampant national hubris, among our pandering politicians and most conservatives prevents us from taking into account how unusual our capital punishment policy is compared to other nations, including our allies. We are the nouveau riche barbarians at the table and yet are willfully blind to our vulgarity.

The irony is that while the U.S. represents itself as the civil rights conscience of the world, proselytizing country after country for inhumane treatment of their citizens, we are one of the few to still invoke the cruelest possible punishment - oblivion. Other nations label our conflicting words and deeds hypocrisy, as indeed it is, even as American Exceptionalism blinds us to that fact and inures us to our own cruelty.

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