Quotations about   capital punishment

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Like enough, you won’t be glad,
When they come to hang you, lad:
But bacon’s not the only thing
That’s cured by hanging from a string.

Hugh Kingsmill
Hugh Kingsmill (1889-1949) English biographer, literary critic, man of letters [pen name of Hugh Kingsmill Lunn]
“Two Poems, After A. E. Housman”, No. 1, st. 2 (1925)
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Houseman, writing to his brother, said of the parody: "It's the best I have seen, and indeed, the only good one."
 
Added on 2-Aug-22 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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When I talk about the death penalty to people, there are a zillion pragmatic arguments to make that the death penalty is more expensive, that you could make mistakes with the death penalty. I try to never use them, because I believe that as soon as I use them, I have dropped what matters to me. Because those arguments are disingenuous. To say, “What if we put an innocent person to death?” I am then telling you that if you can promise me we won’t put any innocent people to death that I’m somehow OK with that, and I’m fucking not. Killing people is wrong. Government shouldn’t fucking do it. End of story.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
Interview by Kahterine Mangu-Ward, Reason (Jan 2017)
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Added on 10-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Jun-21
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To reform man was a tedious and uncertain labor: now hanging was the sure work of a minute.

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857) English playwright and humorist
The History of St. Giles and St. James, ch. 15 (1845)
 
Added on 22-Sep-16 | Last updated 22-Sep-16
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Executions, far from being useful examples to the survivors, have, I am persuaded, a quite contrary effect, by hardening the heart they ought to terrify. Besides, the fear of an ignominious death, I believe, never deterred anyone from the commission of a crime, because in committing it the mind is roused to activity about present circumstances.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Letter 19 (1796)
 
Added on 21-Apr-16 | Last updated 21-Apr-16
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To execute a murderer is simply to adopt his point of view.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Pieces of Eight (1982)
 
Added on 7-Apr-16 | Last updated 7-Apr-16
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One of the oldest Russian proverbs remains as inexorably true in modern America: “No one is hanged who has money in his pocket.” Or, one might say, capital punishment is only for those without capital.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Syndicated column, Chicago Daily News (Apr 1971)
 
Added on 31-Mar-15 | Last updated 31-Mar-15
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Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated, can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Reflections on the Guillotine” (1957)
 
Added on 15-Dec-14 | Last updated 15-Dec-14
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Shoot straight you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Harry “Breaker” Morant, to the firing squad (27 Feb 1902)
 
Added on 20-Aug-14 | Last updated 20-Aug-14
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Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 1 “The Taming of Sméagol” (1954)
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Frodo recounting to Sam the words of Gandalf (approximately) in The Fellowship of the Ring.
 
Added on 26-Jul-11 | Last updated 10-Feb-22
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I am against using death as a punishment. I am also against using it as a reward.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
 
Added on 25-Jul-07 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” [Gandalf] (1954)
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Frodo later recounts these words (approximately) to Sam in The Two Towers.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-22
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