Capital punishment

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Capital punishment

Postby Brightonian » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:51 am

Reading The Bicentennial Man yesterday, I was surprised and dismayed that Asimov assumes capital punishment will still be in force in the 24th century, apparently under the jurisdiction of a World Court. But I suppose this is quite plausible if the world becomes increasingly dominated by the US and China, as depicted in Joss Whedon's Firefly universe: China is one of the world's most prolific executors of human beings, and the US is certainly the most enthusiastic in the western world.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby admin » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:28 am

I gather you oppose capital punishment. I'm on the fence. Of course, the way capital punishment is applied today is horrible, with poor blacks executed many times out of proportion to the number of crimes they commit. But I've read that something like one percent of the population commit ninty percent of the serious crimes, and that one percent of that one percent are true sociopaths, and cause a huge amount of death and suffering. If for every poor black gangbanger we executed one rich white banker, capital punishment might work very well.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby Brightonian » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:08 am

For some reason I'm reminded of the line in Voltaire's Candide: it's a good idea to shoot an admiral every now and then, to encourage the others.

Good points but one percent of one percent is still a lot of people, e.g. about 30,000 Americans. You can't really execute them all and you don't want them in the police or armed forces (which is where many doubtless end up). Anyway, my comment wasn't so much directed at current policy, I'm just surprised that Asimov doesn't envisage more rational means of dealing with violent crime in his future world, or indeed of eliminating it from society altogether.
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Re: Capital punishment

Postby admin » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:05 am

Utopias make boring fiction.
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