Thursday, March 17, 2005

THE DEATH OF THE WEST. When critics say that radical professors have "a unique hostility toward Western traditional and commonsense attitudes," and that their "true raison d'etre is in practice nothing other than to destroy to destroy utterly whatever allegiance a young person might have to traditional conceptions in morality, religion, politics and culture," are they talking about this guy?
…I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging…

…I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness.
These are the words of right-wing legal eagle Eugene Volokh, whose sadism is excited by the Iranian mullahs’ decidedly pre-Enlightenment idea of justice.

Though the guilty party – and I suppose his guilt is a settled matter, the Iranian courts being models of probity – was convicted of unspeakable crimes, you might expect a Professor of Law (Constitutional Law, at that!) to at least acknowledge that flogging, stabbing, and slow-throttling to death is definitely Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Professor Volokh does, but with a surprise twist!
I'm not an expert on the history of the clause, but my point is that the punishment is proper because it's cruel (i.e., because it involves the deliberate infliction of pain as part of the punishment), so it may well be unconstitutional. I would therefore endorse amending the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause to expressly exclude punishment for some sorts of mass murders.
His fellow tenured radical agrees. Well, Volokh was always comfortable with torture – I just didn’t know he considered it a desirable part of the criminal justice system of free nations.

This is about as anti-Western as you can get, but somehow I don’t think Feser, Horowitz, and all the other Canon-keepers will give Volkh a hard time. Because while they’re not above using Western Civ as a cover for their inquisitions, they really couldn’t give a shit about it. What do they care about? Hard to tell. I think it has to do with power, and perhaps pain.

UPDATE. Fixed links.

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