Camus, ‘Reflections on the Guillotine’ (more)

Thanks to the kindness of Nicholas Dahmann, I’ve been sent a copy of the Camus piece mentioned in the last post. (I already have the book it is in, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, on order, so this merely sped up my ability to read it.) As Eduardo had said to me, it is a powerful piece. If the Troy Davis case in particular, or the issues it raises in general, are of concern to you, I strongly encourage you to find a copy to read. Some quotations:

Today I share absolutely [Arthur] Koestler’s conviction: the death penalty besmirches our society, and its upholders cannot reasonably defend it.

Many laws consider a premeditated crime more serious than a crime of pure violence. But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared?

As a general rule, a man is undone by waiting for capital punishment well before he dies. Two deaths are inflicted upon him, the first being worse than the second, whereas he killed but once. Compared to such torture, the penalty of retaliation seems like a civilized law. It never claimed that the man who gouged out one of his brother’s eyes should be totally blinded.

The death penalty as it is now applied, and however rarely it may be, is a revolting butchery, an outrage inflicted on the person and body of man… There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed.

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