The Death Penalty
The national murderer has been obliterated.
He exists no longer anywhere in the world. Whatever may be speculated
in regard to his thinking part, his soul, he is no longer a man
among men. With what object has this been done? Assuredly not for
vengeance; the old Jewish idea of revenge in punishment has disappeared
from our legislation, although many street speakers and some editors
are willing to have it appear still to animate them. The penalties
of the law are inflicted nowadays with a view either to reformation
of the offender or to protection of the public. Those who may thereby
be deterred from further offending are deprived of a portion of
their property or of their liberty; those whose existence is too
serious a menace to the rights of others are wiped out—put to death.
If a man is too dangerous to live with other men, the law does not
think of punishing him that he may become better; still less of
making him feel the suffering that he has caused others; it simply
decrees that there shall be no such man.
This is the enlightened modern idea,
on which coming generations will no doubt act more generally than
do we. And there is little room for doubt that instead of restricting
they will broaden the use of a wise and merciful death-penalty.
There are many beings born of human parents, to permit and assist
whom to live out the full term of life is cruelty to themselves
and injustice to our children.