Captial Punishment, Part 2

Those who argue against abortion are sometimes the same people who argue for capital punishment. Those who are for abortion will then claim this is an inconsistency on the part of anti-abortionists. But why do we need to argue for the one and against the other?

To those who think the practice of abortion should be ended
(or severely limited) AND think capital punishment should be maintained (or expanded), which do you consider more important? If you could only get one, which would you take?

Personally, I think an end to abortion would be the greatest good of the two – and greater by a very large margin. As a non-proponent of capital punishment, I have the option of using the rhetorical strategy of focusing on what I consider to be the greater evil, and allowing liberals (I know not how monolithic they are on this issue) to have “their way” in not practicing capital punishment.

But is the non-practice of capital punishment a devaluing of life, as some have suggested? My guess is that liberals take their opposition to capital punishment as an expression of valuing life. One might argue that they are simply wrong, but I don’t see how they could be, since valuing is a subjective process. Now it may be that they are wrong to value the lives of guilty murderers (or homosexuals, or horse thieves or traitors – or whoever Caesar might decide to punish), but that is not the same as saying they
don’t value it.

If Caesar says, “Let’s have a war. Those people in that other country are a threat to us and to our way of life (or they might be tomorrow),” and then Caesar sends soldiers off to kill (and quite possibly be killed), is that a valuing of life or a devaluing of life? Might the question be answered differently depending on the object of one’s allegiance? If one gives allegiance to Caesar and his kingdom, one might be inclined to take Caesar’s actions as valuing life. If, however, one owed allegience to the other country (and its leader), would one still be inclined to judge Caesar’s actions as valuing life?

I can imagine in such a situation that one might say, “Well, I can see how Caesar would take our actions as a threat to his kingdom and way of life. So the fact that he is here killing our people is an expression of his valuing the lives of his people. But how ought the fact that I can understand his action as a valuing of the lives of his people – though not of some abstraction called “life” or “lives” – what ought I to learn from this as I seek out my own course of action?

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