Demise of the Death Penalty?

Every morning my first newspaper check is a column on the front page of the Wall St Journal which is titled “World Wide”. It is a round up of bad news for President Bush and bad news for Conservatives.

This column often telegraphs the “news” items that the Media Class will be concentrating on in the days ahead. On Friday, January 6th my eyes caught the following stand-alone paragraph. “Virginia’s governor ordered DNA tests in a crime for which a man was executed in 1992. Proof of innocence may transform death-penalty debate”

That was it! A prediction, rather than news, but this is the Media announcing that it intends yet again to try to change the public attitude on punishment in general and capital punishment in particular. I will bet all I possess in this world that a poll of Media people would show that more than 90% are opposed to the death penalty for murder and treason. You might wonder why the Media Class is so resolutely out of step with public opinion on this issue. To reach the answer, one has to understand the composition of the Media Class, examine its roots and grasp what it has to do to maintain a network of activists on the streets and in the political process.

As I have stated in previous articles, the Media Class is a coalition of related interest groups who have accidentally inherited power on a wave of technological innovations. The melding of news and entertainment, fashion and Arts, advertising and celebrity, that TV required, brought together Leftists, social Bohemians, neurotics, perverts, hedonists and some capitalists. It has conferred on them great power and much wealth. Numerically, however, the Class is small and could not hold power alone, let alone advance its agenda. It needs to share its agenda with both its component groups and a wider army of political activists. Keep this in mind whilst I run through the anti-capital punishment arguments. (I make no apology for now putting many words and phrases into inverted commas, as I wish to draw attention to the dishonesty and hypocrisy the words represent.)

The Journal’s little front page paragraph indicates that we are going to hear yet again the argument that “innocent” people are being executed and therefore we must abolish the death penalty because it is so final! Rarely is this argument borne out by indisputable facts. The cases cited mostly hinge on disputed facts cobbled together by biased journalists and biased academic “researchers” long after the trials and the victims are forgotten. Most often, the “innocent” executed person has a history of crime prior to the final murder and has languished on death row through endless appeals. Frequently with the passing of time, no one is left who has an interest in defending the conviction and the field is left to the anti-capital punishment “researcher”. In the UK, where the abolitionists out maneuvered and over ruled public opinion decades ago, the cases most cited were Derek Bentley (partner in burglary and a police killing with a 16 year old) and Timothy Evans, a resident in the Reginald Christie (who was later convicted as a serial killer) household, who murdered his own wife and who was often incorrectly described by abolitionists as mentally handicapped. The execution of Ruth Ellis, who incontestably murdered her lover, was also used to intimidate pro- capital punishment supporters on the baseless claim that she was a victimized woman who deserved sympathy. No mention of sexual equality here!

Modern forensic science improves every year and juries can recommend life sentences, so miscarriages of justice are going to be few and far between, if at all. Nevertheless, if a shred of doubt can be conjured up in this Virginia case, expect the Media to make the most of it.

Some opponents of the death penalty employ religious arguments. “Jesus would have opposed it”, and “only God has the right to take life”, are typical examples. We can excuse the Pope for using this argument, but most of the active abolitionists who use it are anti- Christian in every other respect. Still, the anti-Christian Media will give them a pass on this hypocrisy, when interviewing or quoting them.

Another argument is that the “civilized world” has rejected capital punishment and only the USA is out of step and out of date. The people of Western Europe have not, in fact, rejected it, though their elites have. In the UK, for example, a referendum on the issue would show overwhelming public support for the re-introduction of the death penalty for murder and for longer prison sentences in general. Of course, there will be no referendum.

One of the most cited arguments is that “minorities” are executed for murder disproportionate to their percentage of the overall population; therefore capital punishment is unfair and racist. Since few Asians or other minority people are executed and few are in jails at all, this is really a code for “Blacks are once again being persecuted” and is another version of the race card. The Media, when trumpeting this argument, will omit the racial component of crime statistics showing that Blacks commit more murders. A similar argument used is that the “poor and disadvantaged” are executed disproportionately. This is the typical Leftist pitch that ignores the obvious truth that people who are impulsive, violent, criminal and dysfunctional are likely to be poor.

One can assume that some of those most powerful in the Media Class care little about capital punishment one way or another. They are too busy acquiring wealth, buying large properties or preening themselves in front of cameras, but we should not forget that many have Leftist roots. For them, capital punishment impacts on the “underprivileged”, the “minorities” and the have-nots and it feels good (whilst acquiring and enjoying great wealth) to polish one’s Leftist (and elitist) credentials, especially at Hollywood, Marin County and Manhattan social gatherings. It fits well with outrage about Bush, outrage about the environment, about Iraq and all the other “causes” that champagne socialists love to spout about whilst feeding well at the trough.

For those lower down the Media scale, such as newspaper reporters, University journalist schools have ensured that only the “right-thinking” have been recruited and indoctrination will do the rest when combined with peer pressure. Since the journalist’s working world is uniform in its beliefs and expectations, any reporter who hopes to advance to a trough with more nourishing contents, is not going to step out of line. Consequently, all reporters start with an assumption that capital punishment is brutal disgraceful, primitive and unfair. Facts are discarded and journalists seek out their political friends in the “activist” and “human rights” groups for quotes, biased stats and emotional spin.

Opposition to the death penalty is really part of a larger opposition to punishment for crime. Scratch an abolitionist and usually you will find a deeply seated loathing of punishment as a principle. Punishment for crime in the abolitionist’s mind is associated with property rights and the right to self-defence. There are two interconnected themes here. One is the Leftist fantasy that people only commit crimes because they have been denied their birthright by an unjust society. In a perfectly just (socialist) society no one would need to commit crime, and those who now steal and kill are really rebelling against injustice. Thus their crimes are unconsciously revolutionary. The other Leftist fantasy is that anti-social people will respond if only we all are nice to them and show empathy. In any case punishment will never deter those who cannot help their impulses or are driven to desperation. One can see why these fantasies appeal to those who live in the fantasy world of show business and the Arts. Curiously, the same people are great believers in punishment as a deterrent when it concerns those who have politically incorrect beliefs. The BNP leaders in the UK face many years in prison for agitating against immigration (exercising free speech) and Leftists certainly believe that this will deter others from exercising free speech. “Hate-crime” legislation is a modern example of the Leftists’ belief in deterrent punishment. They are right, of course!

We can see that the Media Class anti-capital punishment campaign plays well with Leftists of all persuasions, from the hypocrites who gather at swank social gatherings to the angry agitators on the streets and in the ghettoes. These people are indispensable to the Media Class for political campaigning and for votes.

The Media Class has one other reason for pressing the abolitionist case at all times and this one gives them great satisfaction as well as playing well with the Leftist mob. It is that conservatives and Nationalists, (always more realistic about human nature), rightly believe that deterring crime against people and property, keeps society stable. When murderers (and other criminals) receive lenient punishment or escape punishment altogether, good people are demoralized, thus paving the way toward a society where anything goes.

So, if the Virginia case throws up the smallest hint of a “miscarriage of justice” expect the Journal’s prediction of a “transformed death-penalty debate” to be borne out. The Media will ensure that this prediction comes true.

What's Your Opinion?