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Thursday, June 19, 2003
Americans are from Mars... Europeans are from Never-Never Land
It's well known that there's a split between the United States and Europe on the issue of capital punishment. (Or at least between the U.S. and European elites; I've seen polls in the past suggesting that the European aversion to the death penalty isn't quite as universal as has been portrayed.) But if this Op/Ed in yesterday's New York Times is accurate, the gap in attitudes is far greater than that:
In the rest of the Western world, the desires for retribution and permanence — so compelling when one sees through a victim's eyes — do not drive legal policy as they do in the United States. The European Court of Human Rights has suggested that to deny lifers the consideration of change and the chance of parole is "inhuman and degrading," and of the Western European nations, only England does. It has all of about 20 such prisoners.

Like our use of the death penalty, our embrace of the natural-life sentence is seen as alien by almost all the countries that share our culture and legal heritage. (Tellingly, death penalty opponents in the United States have been vocal advocates of life without parole, as though to supply a substitute answer to the acute American need for vengeance and finality.)
Wow. I'm speechless. Now that takes bleeding-heart soft-on-crime liberalism to a whole new level. Even life-without-parole is too harsh for them?

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