Monday, January 16, 2006

Beyond The Pale

I've written recently about how I don't believe that the death penalty is appropriate, not that the worst criminals don't deserve death, but that we as a society damage ourselves in the process. The controversy has stayed in the news recently, with DNA evidence posthumously confirming that an executed man in Virginia was indeed guilty. Now in a couple of hours, California will execute a 76-year-old blind diabetic man (who is also a multiple murderer). It's unfortunate that the most appropriate penalty for these criminals is no longer practically available. Exile. It is perfect in its justice. These people have violated society and for a fitting punishment they should forfeit all the benefits of civil society. Some crimes are beyond the pale, and that is literally where such criminals should be sent. If only we still had someplace like Devil's Island or even Australia a few centuries ago. Perhaps the best we could do today would be to negotiate a deal with Kim Jong-Il: we'll give him some food and some energy, but he has to take some of our prisoners as well. (He wouldn't even have to keep them imprisoned. Just let them live in North Korea the rest of their lives. That would be justice enough.) But if we can't do any of those things, we should at least lock these people away for the rest of their lives in complete forfeit of all the benefits of society. I'm not talking imprisonment as we currently do it. I mean no telephone, no television, no books, no letters. No visitors (especially no visitors brokering book or movie deals). No protection from their fellow exiles. In short, no society. Put them where they have put themselves: beyond the pale.

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