A Very, Very, Very Late-Term Abortion

Ann Coulter's latest commentary – in which she likens, for effect, capital punishment by more traditional means to a "very, very, very late-term abortion" – gets an "A" for Ann.

Society's punitive bullets in the front of a culpable murderer's body surely seem less cruel and unusual social punishment than an abortionist's scissors in the back of an innocent fetus's head.

If scissors in the back of the head are socially just enough for millions of immaculately blameless fetuses, then scissors in the back of the head might also seem socially just enough for a few entirely culpable criminals whose social immaturity compels them to rape and murder the daughters, wives, or mothers of their community brothers and sisters.  On the whole, though, a firing squad seems less personally traumatic for the punitive functionaries themselves.  In any event, why obsess about the unavailability of equally lethal chemicals?

Quite apart from society capitally punishing those who capitally punish it (the former being but society's reaction to the latter individuals' voluntary action), why – in theory, at least – should society not also more generally employ corporal punishment as well?  Society might well expect far fewer repeat malefactions if its reaction were five lashes on a malefactor's bare back for his first offense, ten for his second, and so on.

At any rate, caning seems to have worked pretty well for Singapore's society.  I've never been in any other major city where I felt everywhere less likely to be violently put upon by urban malefactors.  Maybe that's no longer true there, either (it's been several decades since I was once in Singapore), but major American cities seem, by contrast, akin to zones of citizen peril and civil treachery.  And that seems to be getting worse decade by decade – particularly the present prevalence of black-on-white violence (whether flash-mobbing, polar bear-hunting, or just general gangbanger mayhem), which in this putatively post-racial society seems verging almost on urban pre-epidemicity.  Where's the Southern Poverty Law Center about that?  Or is that just the 21st-century occasion for its victims to check their "power and privilege" during the course of receiving their long overdue comeuppance for past transgressions?  Maybe we need a Northern Affluence Law Center or something.

Singapore aside, our own malefactor-punishment practice (or lack of it) seems, for whatever reason, obviously failing what should be society's reasonable expectation of urban civility.  Perhaps it's time to reassess punishment's objective.  Surely punishment's objective is the remediation of socially unacceptable behavior.  If whatever faux punishment society now practices isn't achieving that objective, might it not be time society considers something more...well, punitive?  Objectively, society should focus less on punishment's incivility and more on society's civility.

Punishment for punishment's sake is cruel and unjust to the punished, but society's failure to punish for the sake of its own civility is cruel and unjust to the society.  In the end, concern and compassion for the society upon which malefactors prey is a higher case than concern and compassion for the predators who prey upon society.  For myself, I say whatever it takes, because – were it to be substantively otherwise – the ultimate result might become a police state, with neither concern nor compassion for anyone.

Ann Coulter's latest commentary – in which she likens, for effect, capital punishment by more traditional means to a "very, very, very late-term abortion" – gets an "A" for Ann.

Society's punitive bullets in the front of a culpable murderer's body surely seem less cruel and unusual social punishment than an abortionist's scissors in the back of an innocent fetus's head.

If scissors in the back of the head are socially just enough for millions of immaculately blameless fetuses, then scissors in the back of the head might also seem socially just enough for a few entirely culpable criminals whose social immaturity compels them to rape and murder the daughters, wives, or mothers of their community brothers and sisters.  On the whole, though, a firing squad seems less personally traumatic for the punitive functionaries themselves.  In any event, why obsess about the unavailability of equally lethal chemicals?

Quite apart from society capitally punishing those who capitally punish it (the former being but society's reaction to the latter individuals' voluntary action), why – in theory, at least – should society not also more generally employ corporal punishment as well?  Society might well expect far fewer repeat malefactions if its reaction were five lashes on a malefactor's bare back for his first offense, ten for his second, and so on.

At any rate, caning seems to have worked pretty well for Singapore's society.  I've never been in any other major city where I felt everywhere less likely to be violently put upon by urban malefactors.  Maybe that's no longer true there, either (it's been several decades since I was once in Singapore), but major American cities seem, by contrast, akin to zones of citizen peril and civil treachery.  And that seems to be getting worse decade by decade – particularly the present prevalence of black-on-white violence (whether flash-mobbing, polar bear-hunting, or just general gangbanger mayhem), which in this putatively post-racial society seems verging almost on urban pre-epidemicity.  Where's the Southern Poverty Law Center about that?  Or is that just the 21st-century occasion for its victims to check their "power and privilege" during the course of receiving their long overdue comeuppance for past transgressions?  Maybe we need a Northern Affluence Law Center or something.

Singapore aside, our own malefactor-punishment practice (or lack of it) seems, for whatever reason, obviously failing what should be society's reasonable expectation of urban civility.  Perhaps it's time to reassess punishment's objective.  Surely punishment's objective is the remediation of socially unacceptable behavior.  If whatever faux punishment society now practices isn't achieving that objective, might it not be time society considers something more...well, punitive?  Objectively, society should focus less on punishment's incivility and more on society's civility.

Punishment for punishment's sake is cruel and unjust to the punished, but society's failure to punish for the sake of its own civility is cruel and unjust to the society.  In the end, concern and compassion for the society upon which malefactors prey is a higher case than concern and compassion for the predators who prey upon society.  For myself, I say whatever it takes, because – were it to be substantively otherwise – the ultimate result might become a police state, with neither concern nor compassion for anyone.

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