Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Facile Appeal of Round Numbers

If I see or hear or hear tell of one more goddamned article or feature on North Carolina's execution of Kenneth Lee Boyd, who early this morning became the 1,000th person executed in the United States since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, I am going to vomit.

Listen, either you approve of capital punishment or you do not. There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the debate, and the debate is ongoing. The debate has never stopped. The debate doesn't rekindle. It just is.

The question whether it is an appropriate function of government to execute malfeasors, defined however (presently, near-majority, non-mentally retarded murderers who committed their crimes with malice aforethought), is among the most critical questions of policy we have. It stands cheek by jowl with abortion and preemptive war as a question of policy positively metaphysical in breadth. To consider the issue deeply, personally, ought to take one's breath away, regardless of where one comes down on the issue.

But as with the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which has been around and a topic of discussion for years, the MSM builds a bandwagon then jumps on it, and acts like it just discovered something.

Don't believe it. To loathe the thousandth execution is to loathe the first, and the one inflicted the day after tomorrow. It is an ongoing conviction, not a Hallmark holiday.

It's a debate that is rekindled only for those too foolish to care. Those who are only thinking of it in light of this arbitrarily selected occasion, well, they won't be thinking of it next week, and so they have no material role in the debate.

But to have no role is not to have no interest implicated; everyone has an iron in this fire, whether he or she realizes it or not.


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