Certain Principles

Matt Yglesias nails it when talking about faux-outrage over people complaining about the execution of Saddam Hussein:

Do these guys not understand the concept of principles? The point of the belief that all people are entitled to fair trials before receiving criminal sentences is that all people are entitled to fair trials. The point of the belief that capital punishment is immoral (not a belief I share, incidentally) is that it’s always immoral. It’s not as if Amnesty International is confused and doesn’t understand that Saddam isn’t a very sympathetic case. Rather, the point is that organizations committed to principles of human rights — fair trials, no executions — need to uphold those principles even when violating them sounds appealing. If they didn’t, the groups wouldn’t be standing for anything.

He’s also got an excellent assessment of the execution itself:

Sad to see even something as justice for a major-league war criminal rendered tawdry by this administration.

Further blogging on this issue would be superfluous.

Posted in War

2 thoughts on “Certain Principles

  1. In some sense this is an unusually clean case against the death penalty. Arguments in favor of this penalty concentrate many times on practical and semi-rational arguments (e.g. deterrence etc. etc.). In this case it is clear no practical purpose is served, certainly the peace and prosperity of the region will not benefit from this execution. This just brings to the front the real reasons for executions more generally, which are much more, how shall I put it, biblical…

    I’m curious if it was televised, I’d be shocked but maybe not surprised.

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