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In which Cziltang the Ratbastard discusses a bumper sticker.

Driving home this evening I saw one of those cute little eco-boxes with wheels driven by earnestly, passionately caring green/left folks.  I know this because it was plastered with enough bumperstickers to give the impression of being covered with litter that somehow never quite made it to the ground.  One in particular caught my eye:

Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong?

When I was a very young man, I thought this bumpersticker was one of the most profound pieces of wisdom ever recorded in the history of mankind.  Like so many things that impressed me back then, this bumpersticker (like me) was both overly simplistic and completely missed the point, not to mention the fact that it is deliberately (at least I hope it’s deliberate, otherwise the original author was a lot stupider than I imagine) disingenuous.

Murderers fall almost exclusively into two categories; those who commit crimes of passion and those who commit cold calulated murder.  It would be difficult to argue that a significant portion of either group don’t know that what they are doing is wrong.  It is, quite simply, a lie to say we execute people to demonstrate that murder is wrong.

We execute people for a variety of reasons, including deterrence, retribution, justice or simply out of the belief that actions have consequences and that the consequence for murder should be death.  One can argue whether executions actually accomplish any of these things, or whether any of these things are legitimate aims.  One cannot, however, reasonably argue that we execute murderers for educational purposes.

So, the bumpersticker?  Cute.  Clever.  Expresses (or perhaps oozes) loads of politically correct feelings.  But remains intellectually dishonest and pretty much a red herring all the way around.

Which may or may not explain the momentary urge I had to give the eco-box a Ratmobile encounter of the close kind.  Thankfully, the moment passed, as ramming the eco-box could have potentially caused some of those politically correct bumperstickers to rub off on the Ratmobile.

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