What is the death penalty?

Really? The name gives it away.

Don’t be a dick.

The death penalty is when the government kills you for being bad.

I repeat: don’t be a dick.

The death penalty is state-performed murder, a shameful and vestigial remnant of our savage past, and a pathetic reminder of the mean heart and blind dicksuckery of Americans.

There you go. The death penalty is a grand and ancient tradition, though.

Hell, yeah. The first knot humanity leaned to tie was a noose. In fact, throughout most of history, you would be lucky to get the death penalty.

Explain.

“Death penalty” implies that it’s the state executing you, which means maybe you had a chance to plead your case somewhere along the way, or get a last meal; most of the time, criminals would be beaten to death in the street by a mob.

Oh.

Or, you know: a guy that the mob mistook for the criminal. Or a woman accused of being a witch.

The past was terrible.

It was, yes. Luckily, we’ve managed to preserve a goodly chunk of it known as capital punishment. Like historical re-enactors with corpses.

Do any other countries still execute criminals?

Sure, tons of them.

Any decent ones?

Nope. All of the shittiest place, and us.

Yay. I’ve noticed you’ve dismissed the death penalty out of hand. Some people are in favor of it.

Fuck ’em; they’re wrong.

Would you like to make an argument or just curse in a folksy manner?

The state should not be given the power of life and death over its citizens. And holy shit should some of the states not be given that power. You know who runs Arkansas? River otters in glasses, and they’re corrupt. The people in charge of this decision should in no way be in charge of this decision, so my vote is to take it from their hands. Shit, the only reason that capital punishment exists at the state level is that dopey Tenth Amendment.

Which one was that?

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Oh.

Which is such a fucking punt. “Whatever we forgot, you guys take care of, ‘kay?” Reminds you that the document we hold so sacred is the compromise between slavers and people who just wanted to do business with slavers.

This is just a pragmatic argument, though.

Those are the best ones.

But not very lofty.

You want righteousness and morality? Sure. On the question of the death penalty, there are two sides: one of them counts among its members a large hooded man with an axe. He is a murderer, and that is the wrong side to be on.

Capital punishment is not murder.

Of course it is. Premeditated and with malice aforethought

Some would disagree with your definition of “malice.”

Why do we execute? To punish? Because the will to punish is malicious. Is it the will to revenge? To obliterate, to make non-existent? Are these not malicious?

But isn’t the desire for revenge natural?

One of the basest and most primal of needs is for revenge. But a government isn’t a person, and it shouldn’t abide by the rules of vendetta.

What about serial killers?

They are so scary.

We shouldn’t execute serial killers, or child rapists, or terrorists?

Listen, I’m not saying that some motherfuckers don’t need to die. I’m saying that the government shouldn’t be the to one do it.

Which method of execution would you choose?

Giant slingshot against a brick wall, and everybody can watch. Put on a show for the people.

You’re a good guy.

I am, yeah.