I’m often taken aback at how readily my fellow citizens resort to sadism when discussing our justice system, fantasizing about how miserable a future prisoner will be, expressing no compassion over botched lethal injections, even excitedly daydreaming about the prospect of male-on-male prison rape. We should be striving for a system where punishment is rarely needed and humane when necessary.
I was reminded of all this when reading an article the other day about the history of the guillotine, which was intended to provide a quick, merciful, and egalitarian form of execution. But the first time the French used it (in the 1790s), the observing mob, disappointed at the lack of entertainment, shouted, “Bring back the gallows!” I fear not much has changed.
[Originally posted on Facebook.]