Seeking perfect justice blinds the debate

Dr. Jackson describes a point of view that is ideologic rather than practical and describes how that creates situations where “the very premise is inane and hypocritical.” The topic at hand is the death penalty but the same phenomena is at the core of many other issues ranging from the environment to energy to war and peace and terror.

To quote Justice Scalia (18): “Like other human institutions, courts and juries are not perfect. One cannot have a system of criminal punishment without accepting the possibility that someone will be punished mistakenly. That is a truism, not a revelation.”

Perhaps a part of this is that a person on death row is a concrete entity that exists and is easy to identify and comprehend. That person is a victim and it is easy to loose sight of whether he is a victim of society or his own behavior. He is a victim who is available for sympathy and will respond. That brings the response and feedback very close and that means very powerful. In debates like this, the close and (emotionally) powerful can overwhelm the more distant and diffuse social needs.

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