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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Eugene Volokh parades his inattentiveness.

It's not difficult to understand, if one is paying attention: The difference between "I support the death penalty only for this only" and "I support the death penalty for this, that, and t'other" is itself different from the difference between "I support the death penalty for this only" and "I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances whatsoever." The one argues only over where the line shall be drawn; the other argues over whether there shall be a line at all.

There is no reconciling "Saddam Hussein should suffer death for his crimes" and "I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances whatsoever"; the person who advocates that Hussein twist in the wind can only argue over where the line should be drawn. And quite a few of those who now say Hussein should make the acquaintance of Jack Ketch have been known, in the past, to preen themselves upon their absolute opposition to capital punishment, self-righteously refusing to consider the merits of actual cases, and slathering their contempt upon any who say those merits ought to be considered.

This brings to mind, many persons, otherwise absolutely opposed to the death penalty, went on a similar toot when John Lennon was shot. It didn't last long.

-- posted by Clayton 12/23/2003 05:12:00 AM

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